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Park Master Plan Provides Framework, But Not Necessarily Facilities

by Karen Goff July 11, 2014 at 9:30 am 4 Comments

Baron Cameron Park/Credit: FCPABaron Cameron Park may one day be home to a large indoor recreation center or other new amenity.

Or it may stay very much like it is, with garden plots, athletic fields and Reston’s only off-leash dog area.

Two weeks ago, the Fairfax County Park Authority approved a Baron Cameron master plan revision that includes the option for a large indoor recreation space.

Bill Bouie, Chairman of the Fairfax County Park Authority Board, says the approved master plan merely reserves the option to build there.

That doesn’t mean anything necessarily will be built at the 60-acre park.

“A rec center might not happen at all,” he said. “But before this, these was no approved plan in place. What this does is say ‘in Nirvana, when and if we get the money, this what it should look like.’ ”

The park authority board discussed the future plans for Baron Cameron Park for more than a year before voting on the plan. The goal was to update the master plan, which had not been done since 1990. The park has at various times been property of the Fairfax County Public Schools (which at one time was going to build a high school there), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and finally, the Park Authority.

But with Reston population expected to grow with the opening of the Silver Line Metro this summer, the timing was appropriate to look at how Baron Cameron can serve more people in the region. Baron Cameron is designated as a district park, meaning it should have a variety of uses in order to serve a wide variety of needs, said Bouie.

Over the last 18 months, the Reston Community Center has held a series of community meetings and conducted a feasibility study on teaming with the parks authority to build the a 50-meter indoor pool and rec center at Baron Cameron. RCC would build the center on land donated by the park authority.

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

The swimming community is in favor of a new pool as RCC’s 25-meter indoor pool is outdated and crowded, they said.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.

Bouie says what may eventually wind up at Baron Cameron may not even be a pool.

“It could be an indoor track, it could be tennis, it could be a field house, it could be a pool,” he said. “But we need to reserve the right to build something there because we don’t have any other property that is buildable.”

Plans or no plans, the question of money remains. For the park authority to make improvements, it will need at least bond money — and preferably some developer proffer cash as well, says Bouie.

There are no park bonds scheduled to go before voters until 2016, and it may take as long as 2023, Bouie said. The cost for park improvements in the master plan (excluding the indoor center) would be about $25 million, he added.

“The improvements at Baron Cameron Park will not result in a tax increase to any residents of Reston unless it is part of an overall tax increase across the county,” said Bouie.

Meanwhile, RCC would need to hold a referendum among Small Tax District 5 voters for the $30 million cost of the pool and rec center construction. A referendum won’t happen in 2014, RCC executive director Leila Gordon said.

Some RCC pool opponents say Small Tax District 5 residents, who currently pay to support Reston Community Center, are taxed enough and should not be asked to pay for a new RCC.

“RCA/Reston 2020 has done exhaustive analyses of this issue, which totally refutes the idea that building such a facility is supported by facts or valid studies,” Tammi Petrine of Reston 2020 commented on an earlier Reston Now story on this issue. “In fact, local #5 taxes would go up to pay for an amenity that anyone in county can use.  … The cost of the referendum alone is $75,o00. 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. ”

Read the entire Baron Cameron Park Master Plan Draft.

  • NO

    NO NO NO to a Rec Center paid for by Small Tax District 5!

    LET THE COUNTY PAY — everyone in the county will use it.

  • Adrian Havill

    Leave it as is. Save money as well.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Too bad they didn’t put a high school there. Could have been Baron Cameron High or Lake Anne High.

  • Tammi Petrine

    Why does Bill Bouie insist that the FCPA has no
    other buildable land in Reston??? There is a 5
    acre FCPA “park” at Town Center North (TCN). (For those wondering,
    Town Center North runs east / west from the Spectrum to the Hospital and south
    / north from New Dominion Parkway
    to Baron Cameron Avenue.) It has been on the books for years but is
    largely unmarked, and certainly unkempt and unimproved. The PA doesn’t want
    anyone to even know they/we own this land. They and/or the county is/are in
    negotiations with INOVA to swap parcels to consolidate each’s holdings in order
    to maximize profits when the land is sold to developers. INOVA plans to sell
    its ½ to fund its new cancer center in Fairfax/Merrifield. What is unknown is will
    the cash-strapped county sell off our land including the PA’s 5 acres on the
    sly? No one knows… We are being kept in the dark certainly until the swap with
    INOVA is a fait accompli.

    Regarding TCN, while we are all massively
    concerned about where our new library will be located there and what it will
    look like given that the county’s current library director Sam Clay seems
    intent on killing our library system by refusing to fill vacancies and
    disposing of huge numbers of books – YES, Indeed, dumping is STILL going on!, I
    think that we in Hunter Mill District deserve a fair trade for OUR 5 acres of ‘invisible’
    parkland somewhere else in Town Center North and preferable close to the
    library site.

    The Reston Master Planning Task Force
    recommended, after almost 4 YEARS of study, that a Rec Center be located in
    Town Center North in tandem with an 8 acre ‘town green’ which is slated to be adjacent
    to the police station/supervisor’s office. A TCN location is centrally located
    N to S in the community, will have the most public transit options, would have
    access to shared parking for those of us that need it and is close (walkable)
    to HUGE planned population-dense development in the TOD Corridor area and the enormous,
    already-approved Spectrum residential/mixed use project. This was discussed
    extensively for 4 years yet Mr. Bouie knows nothing of it???

    He also states that Baron Cameron Park (well
    east of Town Center North and hardly centrally located and with NO public
    transit options) is a district park: “meaning it should have a variety of
    uses in order to serve a wide variety of needs.” A district park also
    means it is NOT designated for local use but rather serves a wider population
    of citizens from Great Falls, Herndon, Vienna and generally the entire NW corner of the county as
    well as Reston users. Check it out on the map;
    it is located close to the very eastern edge of Reston
    and far north. It is certainly NOT conveniently located for most Restonians.
    So, Mr. Bouie, why would Reston tax payers (and
    nobody else) ever want to pay full freight for a rec center in such a terrible
    location that would serve DISTRICT users???

    Further the $30 Million price tag that RCC
    director Leila Gordon mentions in this article is less than 1/2 of what a
    viable rec center would cost!

    Small Tax District #5 which adds a surcharge to
    your Real Estate taxes every year would fund this amenity and those EXTRA,
    RESTON-ONLY taxes would absolutely go up, not only from rising assessments but
    from rate increases most probably. FYI,
    McLean also has a small tax district which funds only its community center because
    the PA built them a swanky rec center years and years ago and are, in fact,
    currently adding to/renovating it to a tune of $ millions as are they also for
    Oakton’s… Their PA reps lobby for them I’m guessing.) Our humble neighbor McLean’s STD tax rate is:
    22 cents/$100 evaluation; Reston’s is 47
    cents!!! We pay more than double the
    EXTRA taxes yet we have many more needy families in our community (Does McLean have any?) and a much lower income average. What’s up with that???

    Another thing that Mr. Bouie has stated to me
    several times is that RCC (ALL of us) funding a rec center is “such a good
    deal” because commercial properties also pay this tax. Really, Bill? Screw the
    commercial folks, too??? Ey yi yi…

    Every other supervisor’s district has at least
    ONE fully funded rec center. We have ZIP. Hunter Mill residents (Restonians)
    demand parity. We are sick of paying for the rest of the county to have Rec
    Centers while all we get from Mr. Bouie is “there is no $ for
    Reston.” WHY has he not advocated for Reston
    to get its fair share? WHY does the Park Authority board not ‘get’ the huge
    burden that Hunter Mill folks are shouldering for everyone else but them not
    for us???

    Yet, as we read in an earlier RestonNow article,
    there is miraculously $5 Million for the expansion of the Water Mine. Plus there is a new admin building in Lake Fairfax
    Park, etc., etc. Oh, the $ is there. It just isn’t being spent
    on us. It is being spent by the PA for Hunter Mill residents (wink, wink) on
    facilities that make $ for the PA. Then they must spend the income from the
    Water Mine and camp ground in other districts.
    Must be true ’cause BB keeps telling us there is NO $ for us.

    Bill Bouie serves
    on both the RCC board as chair of long-range planning AND on the FCPA board as
    Chairman. He keeps pushing this idea
    that Reston has unlimited resources to build a Rec Center. We ALREADY are paying Reston Association for
    the upkeep on amenities such as pools, tennis courts, paths, play grounds,
    fields and pavilions that the Park Authority’s Sandy Stallman is pleased to
    offer up at the final hearings for the Master Planning task force as “recreationally
    rich neighboring opportunities” to the new residents coming into the corridor
    who are NOT RA members and pay not one red cent in RA dues…

    Please, Restonians, who are angered by this
    scheme, stand for election to the RCC Board of Governors (deadline for
    candidate application is August 15th) and we will vote you in. We need to STOP
    this insane, unfair plan to again self-fund a facility that should’ve been
    built for us by the FCPA many years ago.

    Note to Supervisor
    Hudgins: Could you please appoint a FCPA representative for us who will
    advocate for a Hunter Mill Rec Center in TCN per the Reston
    master plan that you approved with the entire BOS last fall? PLEASE???
    We are sick of being short-changed.
    Chantilly got theirs; we want ours!!!


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