RCC’s Future Top Topic at Candidates Forum

RCC LOGO Candidates for the Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors talked about the future of RCC Monday night — its 2,000 annual programs in general and the plans to build a 50-meter indoor pool and recreation center, specifically.

Four candidates running for three openings in the annual preference poll took part in the 2014 Candidates Forum at RCC Hunters Woods. Two, William Penniman and Vicky Wingert, are incumbents.

The other two candidates are longtime Reston resident Linda Singer, who has served in a variety of local organizations, and William Keefe, a former RCC board member who was not re-elected in 2013.

As Reston, which has a new master plan and the first of its Silver Line Metro stations, prepares for growth, it is important that RCC grow with it, all candidates said.

“RCC is unique,” said Penniman, who has served on the board for eight years. “There is nothing like it in Virginia. No other community center has this kind of energy — it is important we preserve it. It is important we continue to strengthen and rise to meet needs that will grow.”

RCC will probably have to do that in the face of tough economics. The candidates said they do not want to have to raise the special tax that residents of Small Tax District 5 (Reston) already pay. RCC has studied building the new pool at Baron Cameron Park on land donated by the Fairfax County Park Authority, the county is also facing a cash crunch.

Residents of Small Tax District 5 are currently taxed 4.7 cents per hundred dollars of assessed home value. RCC officials say the expectation for future growth is that the tax base will grow with the population, not by raising rates.

“It is difficult [to predict] given the financial situation,” said Keefe. “It will take some time to assess what capital needs and revenue sources will be. We would like to diversify funding, proffers from developers and a series of other things to get to where we need to go to improve facilities for all people in Reston.”

Added Singer: “The county does not have the money either. There is space at Baron Cameron Park where we can build something, but I don’t believe the park authority will pay for it. All residents of Fairfax will not be happy if their taxes had to go up to pay for it.”

The board has been examining the proposed new pool since early 2013. Consultants from Brailsford & Dunlavy, hired for a feasibility study, say the new facility will cost about $30 million. The community has had mixed reaction to the expansion, and many of the detractors have said it is not a financial sound idea.

Before the idea can move forward, it will face a voter referendum, and RCC executive director Leila Gordon said that won’t happen in 2014.

“Our job as the Board of Governors is to find the best possible solution and deal that we can find,” said Wingert. “I think we are pursuing all the options possibly available. We [candidates] are all taxpayers too. It is ultimately up to community to decide what priorities are going to be and up to us to come up with best possible package.”

Residents of Small Tax District 5 should have received RCC ballots in the mail. Voting opens Sept. 12 by mail, online or in person.

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