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Park Authority Approves Baron Cameron Plan With Recreation Center Option

by Karen Goff June 30, 2014 at 9:30 am 1,031 14 Comments

Baron Cameron Park Plan with new dog park location and indoor rec center/Credit: FCPA The Fairfax County Park Authority Board has approved a master plan for Reston’s Baron Cameron Park that includes the option of adding an indoor recreation facility to the 68-acre parcel.

The board voted 9-1 in favor of the plan at its meeting last week, said Park Authority Board Chair Bill Bouie.

The park has been in the master plan process for more than a year in order to better use the space, said Bouie. Baron Cameron is a district park, drawing visitors not only from Reston but from surrounding communities.

Last spring, the park authority released a master plan draft that includes several changes to fields, gardens and lighting. The approved alternative plan includes all those changes, but also adds the option for a indoor recreation center, which would likely feature a 50-meter indoor pool.

The recreation center has been a sometimes contentious community discussion since February of 2013, when the Reston Community Center began discussing the idea of building a new facility at Baron Cameron Park in cooperation with the park authority. The park authority would give the land to RCC at no cost.

In 2013, RCC hired consultants Brailsford & Dunlavy for a feasibility study that estimated the rec center would cost about $35 million.

The swimming community is in favor of a new pool as RCC’s 25-meter indoor pool at Hunters Woods is outdated and crowded, they said. However, many community members question traffic, loss of green space, financial impact and whether there is a need for an additional indoor pool in Reston.

The next step in RCC’s process would be a community referendum, and RCC executive director Leila Gordon says that won’t happen this year.

Meanwhile, the new-and-improved Baron Cameron Park won’t happen for a long time, either. Bouie said earlier this year there are no bonds or developer proffers attached to any park improvements. That means whatever is  in the master plan is basically just a wish list for the time being.

“Any bonds we would obtain would be for 2023 at the earliest,” Bouie said.

Also in the master plan: The off-leash dog area will stay in its current location along Wiehle Avenue. There had been a proposal in one of the plan drafts to move it further inside the park, away from nearby homes. There had also been feedback from citizens at a community meeting in March to move the dog park to Lake Fairfax Park.

A group of homeowners in the Longwood Grove neighborhood, which sits across Wiehle Avenue from the dog park, filed an injunction against the park in March. In it, they complained about excessive noise and asked that the dog park be shut down.

The homeowners’ attorney was at the park authority meeting last week and asked again that the dog park be shut down.

Key elements of the master plan include:

  • Upgrading the rectangle fields to full-size, with synthetic turf and lights
  • Adding a second lighted diamond field
  • Increasing the amount of parking spaces
  • Adding a second park entrance off Wiehle Avenue
  • Adding a multi-use court complex
  • Expanding the community garden plots
  • Creating a trail network throughout the park and a new pedestrian connection to the adjacent Browns Chapel Park (operated by Reston Association)
  • Removing several athletic fields in order to build the indoor rec center.

Read the entire Baron Cameron Park Master Plan Draft.

Graphic: Baron Cameron Park with alternative plan/Credit: FCPA

  • Raykay

    I hope the park authority plans on paying for this rec center on their own. I don’t want to pay for a pool that the citizens of Reston won’t even be able to use.

    • Dexter Scott

      Exactly. If this isn’t paid for by the county writ large, then forget it.

  • Chris

    “The park authority would give the land to RCC at no cost.” Sounds to me as though the rec center would be for Reston citizens use.

  • confused about this

    Which is it — RA members can use the pool as one of our many choices or cannot but still are paying a disproportionate amount for it?

    • Karen Goff

      This proposal is not affiliated with Reston Association at all. The Park Authority has reserved the right to build a center, but as of now, there is no money available to build such a center. The Reston Community Center, which all members of Small Tax District 5 (RESTON) pay into, is interested in building the center in the park. But that would have to go to referendum first, where the community votes on whether they would want to see the facility built. So an actual indoor rec center is 1) still a long way off; 2) not affiliated with RA; and 3) would be open to the public no matter who pays to build it (though there would be different price points for Small Tax District 5 residents, county residents, non county residents, etc.

  • wireknob

    So much for listening to residents of Reston who came out in droves to the meetings to oppose this green-space gobbling rec center.

  • Constance (Connie) Hartke

    For a short explanation of the Reston Community Center tax which Reston property owners pay, see the 411 (info doc) at http://restoncitizensassociation.blogspot.com/p/reston-411.html.

  • Tammi Petrine

    For Reston residents who demand to be treated equally to ALL other taxpayers in Fairfax County: it is imperative that YOU VOTE for governors of RCC this fall who will oppose any Rec Center referendum to build such a boondoggle. RCA/Reston 2020 has done exhaustive analyses of this issue which totally refute the idea that building such a facility is supported by facts or valid studies. In fact, local #5 taxes would go up to pay for an amenity that anyone in county can use. Costs for us would be near market rate anyway and we would have the burden of upkeep forever. We, in Hunter Mill District, are the ONLY residents of the county WITHOUT a county funded rec center.

    BTW, folks, the cost of the referendum alone is $75K. I can think of better ways to spend (or save) my EXTRA Real Estate Small Tax District #5 assessment than on a referendum that would enslave me and everyone else in Reston in perpetuity for a blood-sucking rec center that should’ve been built for us long ago by the Park Authority. Vote this fall for sane-minded, responsible governors on the Reston Community Center board, PLEASE.

    And IF you want a rec center in Reston/Hunter Mill, ask the Park Authority and its board president, Bill Bouie why we alone have been short-changed… That’s a question that I have been asking for years and to which I still have never gotten an answer.

    • Fairfax Watcher

      Dear Tammi, great job on your comments! I would say: Welcome to “The People’s Republic of the FCPA”! Once you understand that the Park Authority is NOT part of the Fairfax County government, but rather is an independent “Authority” blessed by the Virginia state code, things make more sense. Which means the FCPA can do pretty much what it wants to do including eminent domain – which means they can take your property and pay you as little as possible. The FCPA has a culture of NOT answering resident’s inquiries…the best way to get an answer is to use a FOIA request which state law gives them 5 days to respond back to you.

    • Terry Maynard

      For a succinct, but accurate statement on the Reston RECenter proposal, please see Reston 2020’s statement on the matter at RCC’s recent annual public hearing.
      http://www.reston2020.blogspot.com/2014/06/rca-reston-2020-statement-on-reston.html

  • BD

    I have lost all faith in the “democratic” process in Fairfax County. This decision was made long ago and despite clear opposition by most at hearings, this is just forced on us.

    Thank you for approving something we need to pay for in Reston but everyone can use. STOP TAXING THE HELL OUT OF US!!! Enough already.

    • Bah

      Like many other things, they make us keep voting on it until they get the outcome they want.

  • kk

    An indoor bouldering/rockclimbing wall for RA member and guest use would be pretty fantastic. We could use our pool/tennis passes to pay for and gain access to it. There’s only one climbing gym in the area, and they charge an arm and a leg. Charging non-RA people could also be a nice way to bring in a little money. Just a thought.

    • Karen Goff

      This isn’t an RA proposal. It is Fairfax County Park Authority and maybe Reston Community Center. They are two different things.

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