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New Rec Center Plan to Kick Off With April Hearing

by Karen Goff — March 9, 2015 at 9:30 am 1,061 49 Comments

Map of Reston Town Center North area

The Fairfax County Park Authority will hold a public hearing next month that will be the first step towards a land deal that could result in a large, new indoor recreation center in Reston.

The public hearing is at 7:30 p.m. April 8 at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12055 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax, in Rooms 106 and 107.

The five-acre property is located on Fountain Drive, down the block from the new North County Government Center in the area known as the Reston Town Center North District. The parcel is bordered by Bowman Towne Drive, Town Center Parkway and Baron Cameron Avenue.

Park Authority Board Chair Bill Bouie said last month the park authority has committed to a deal, pending a public hearing and park authority board vote, that plans for a 90,000-square-foot recreation facility to be built there.

“The future rec center will be owned and operated by the park authority and will be available to all members of the Fairfax County community,” Bouie says.

That plan takes off the table the idea of a recreation center and indoor pool at Baron Cameron Park, a joint Reston Community Center/Fairfax County Park Authority deal that had been discussed for more than two years. While the RCC plan never reached the community referendum stage, there was mixed reaction from residents, many of whom felt that Small Tax District 5 (Reston) residents would be financially burdened.

Bouie said RCC will not be involved in the Town Center North plan “unless the RCC Board decides to partner with the park authority on programs that are needed to supplement offerings, especially swimming.”

The county says conveyance of the property, called Reston Towne Green by the park authority, is being considered in response to the Reston Comprehensive Plan Amendment. When the plan amendment was approved in February of 2014, it encouraged a land use pattern “that incorporates significant new residential development and new non-residential uses to complement the existing and planned public uses and the concentration of employment in the Reston Town Center and a significant new open space to serve as a defining element in the organization of a new, more urban pattern of blocks.”

The Park Authority is seeking public comment on the deal, which will include:

  • Conveyance of the Reston Towne Green property to the Board of Supervisors in consideration for a potential 2.6-acre urban Central Green.
  • Commitment to provide approximately 90,000 square feet of density for the indoor facility within one of the new urban blocks
  • Other items for consideration that may be advantageous to the Park Authority mission.

If you wish to speak at the hearing you may sign up in advance by calling the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662 or via email at [email protected]. You may also sign up at the hearing. Organizations may have one official speaker for five minutes; individuals may testify for three minutes.

Written and e-mail comments will be taken until April 7. Written comments may be sent to David R. Bowden, Director of Planning & Development Division, Fairfax County Park Authority, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 406, Fairfax, Virginia 22035. Email comments should be sent to: [email protected].

The park authority board will vote on the matter at their regular board meeting scheduled later in the evening on April 8.

  • JCSuperstar

    As Mr. Maynard has stated already…
    Three other issues are not discussed fully here:
    1. Who actually pays for building the RECenter?
    2. Who will use the RECenter?
    3. How much will a RECenter cost?

    There are so many existing facilities in the area, with similar offerings.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Gee, ya think they are not going to answer the “what does it cost and who pays” questions until they get everyone all fired up about how awesomely awesome the rec center is going to be?

      “Reston pays but the whole county can use” was the answer last time, and I’ll be amazed if it’s any different this time.

      • Geraldo

        “Reston pays but the whole county can use” was the answer last time, and I’ll be amazed if it’s any different this time.
        It IS different. As noted in the article, FCPA is building the RECenter using County bonds and proffer $. There are already nine similar facilities in the County, but none in the Hunter Mill district. No “Reston” money is going towards this project.

        • JCSuperstar

          Geraldo, I stand to be corrected on this, but I believe Reston Association represents the largest user base for this proposed Hunter Mill REC Center. Given everything that is already available to the members, shouldn’t we have a say as to whether we really need it? As I said, there are a lot of ways Bouie (the county) could offer what we believe we need for probably a whole lot less. Maintaining the existing county parks in Reston would be a great start.

          • Geraldo

            RECenters operate on a revenue fund which means no general fund dollars are used for operations, maintenance, etc. – the revenue they generate from admissions, classes, rentals, etc. covers all their costs. I’m totally fine with this and I think it’s a good thing for the community.

          • JCSuperstar

            Geraldo. I don’t think the REC centers cover all their cost as you state. I’ll let the number crunchers here point that out. Among the Y, Lifetime, RA, local fitness centers, and even the RCC, I believe the community is being very well served. A 90,000 sq. ft. facility is going to cost a bundle, bolt on top of that the operating and maintenance costs I bet we’re looking at a $100M over 10 years. No way the revenues can cover that, in my opinion.

            Why cant the county help RA with improved pathways to the Metro? Elevated walkways over the major arteries? Improved lighting? Or upgrade the Library? or…?? Has the county asked the RA members?

            I know, I know, you’ll say this is county Parks and Recreation — but, at the end of the day it is the BOS and Ed Long’s budget.

            JC

          • Terry Maynard

            Yes, JC, the RECenters DO cover all their operating costs. The B&D report said they recovered 114%–so there’s a “profit.”

            They don’t cover the construction costs; that’s a County GO bond voted on by County residents. And there will be not less expensive way for Restonians to have access to a RECenter in Reston that if it’s financed by the County–rather than Restonians only through RA or RCC. We are already paying for other County RECenters so we might as well have one here in town.

          • JCSuperstar

            Thanks Terry. I reviewed your prior number crunching and misunderstood one point. Your pragmatic assessment makes sense for sure, so if it’s inevitable, let’s play.

            I have to ask though. Don’t you think it’s ironic, one silo in the county can muster the resources to get a REC center, when another silo can barely scrape the necessary resources together to say — improve walkability at the major intersections near Metro?

    • Karen Goff

      That info is still not yet known. That’s what the public hearing is for. There will also be a feasibility study, similar to the ones that RCC conducted. Bouie says bonds and developer proffers will pay for building the rec center, cost still not yet known.

      • JCSuperstar

        Thanks Karen. I guess another question is: Does Reston need this facility? With the YMCA, Lifetime Fitness, RA facilities, etc, isn’t the community being well served? Seems Mr. Bouie has more power than Ms. Hudgins and Mr. Long. I can think of County bonds and developer proffers going to better uses.

        • Terry Maynard

          JC–The key driver in the rec center initiative since it was first proposed is the construction of an indoor 50-meter competition pool, which will also be its most costly element.

          No other facility in Hunter Mill District, public or private, has such a swimming capability.

          • JCSuperstar

            Thanks Terry. I thought Lifetime had a 50 meter indoor pool. I know they have several pools and programs for all ages. Or, couldn’t Mr. Bouie proffer a fraction of this effort to, say – cover Reston association’s 50 meter pool. I just wonder if this has been well thought out.
            JC

          • Constance (Connie) Hartke

            I WISH Lifetime had a 50 meter pool. It does not. A lost opportunity.

          • JCSuperstar

            Thanks for the info Connie.
            So I guess the driving factor is an indoor 50 meter pool.

            RA has one, but would need to be covered. RA is the largest base of people in the District, so perhaps the county could offer the idea of covering, if the need exists. If we are going to pay for a REC Center, why isn’t Mr. Bouie offering an indoor tennis facility? Aren’t there many that believe that is a necessity also?

            Looks like the public hearings will determine this.

          • Constance (Connie) Hartke

            Rather than the County, how about if the regional swim teams offered to pay to cover the RA pool in the winter (if the neighborhood is all right with this). I remember sitting at the public hearing on Baron Cameron Park where swimmers from Herndon, Loudoun County and Great Falls passionately pleaded for RCC (which means small tax district 5) to give them a 50 meter indoor pool.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Or we could lay off at least 20 percent of RA employees, cut those who remain to 30 hrs or less and not have to pay health care and other extravagant benefits packages and use the savings to benefit the members. Feeding the beast is using up all the money.

          • Square

            “health care and other extravagant benefits packages”

            Really?

          • Terry Maynard

            As you are probably aware, JC, Lifetime Fitness is extremely expensive–my understanding is that an individual membership is $120/month whether you go or not, and that doesn’t count any special classes/programs you may want to take. There is no membership fee for a RECenter, just pay-as-you-go, and you don’t pay if you don’t go except the small amount of your property tax that helps pay for all FC RECenters.

            The best case financial situation for Restonians is a County-built & operated public RECenter because it spreads the cost across the entirety of the County–and we’re already paying for the other County RECenters through our taxes.

            The WORST financial case would be RA building and operating one because it would have the smallest base to pay the costs (RA members via their annual HOA fees and whatever the going swim/tennis fee is). It would add considerably to our annual fees. And, yes, we’d still be paying for all the County RECenters too.

            An RCC-built/operated rec center would be pretty much like an RA one from a financial perspective, except the tax base would include residents of Town Center (not in RA) as well as all businesses in Reston.

          • JCSuperstar

            well thought out Terry, and a good point. But, I wonder if anyone, including RA or the County, has ever asked for a form of public/private partnership. As I’ve learned in the private sector, the deal is typically a good one when price is the final obstacle.
            Just food for thought, not disagreeing.

          • Mike M

            Time for an Economics lesson. (Seems in Reston it is always that time.) Lifetime costs enough for them to cover their costs and to make a profit. So, the goal here is to provide services at lower than market rates? To do that and cover your costs and not price yourself pretty much the same as the private alternatives, you will likely have to borrow more money and take more from the citizens. This, ladies and gentlemen is the Socialist impulse, and it always results in less efficient operation. Always.

            I am embarrassed for those who continue to propose ever more involvement of government and quasi-government in the provision of services that the local marketplace already offers.

          • Greg

            And Cathy Hudgins and he socialist BoS and park authority members want every last penny. Hudgins and one other voted against not raising the property tax rate (that is, she voted against keeping the rate the same — no discussion with LOWERing the rate) with her comment being that the existing rate (which will result in 85% of county property owners paying more) is not enough.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            And Hudgins and the rest of the BofS just voted themselves a 20K per year raise.

          • JCSuperstar

            Agree with you Mike. The point I was attempting to make is – if there is a group of people who see the need, they should find a way to pay for it. Right now I believe the non-profit, not-for-profit and private entities are providing the line share of what Reston needs in terms of recreational services. Work with them if you are not satisfied.
            I believe the Fed, State and County need to provide the basics like defense, police, fire & rescue, etc., and profit should not be the motive. Although I give Bush Sr. credit for getting the coalition of nation states to pay for Desert Drizzle — hell, he made us money.

          • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

            Maybe the Bank of RA President Ray Wadell can give them an interest free loan?

          • JCSuperstar

            Or… Perhaps, Bouie and team, could spend a whole lot less then a $90M REC center (after all is said and done) and just offer a couple million to Reston Parks & Rec to improve/add to their facilities.

          • Seal Weddell

            Sorry, that money has already been allocated for the improvement of the Frito Bandito Cluster in South Reston. We want MS-13 to be fully invested in the Ownership Society!

          • Ming the Merciless

            Bah, let them swim twice as many laps in the 25 meter pool.

          • JCSuperstar

            That’s what I say!

          • JoeInReston

            In addition to the facilities that JCSuperStar mention above (RCC, Lifetime Fitness, RCC), local residents also have the choice of Herndon Community Center and Worldgate. Reston Association also offers 9 outdoor pools. Lake Newport is likely 50 meters or more. I don’t know for certain.

            As the area offers indoor pools and large outdoor pools, the set of people that inconvenienced by the large of a large indoor pool is extremely small. This is a niche product.

            Does the county offer indoor archery? Indoor gymnastics facilities? Roller blade derby facilities? Of course not. These are niche items that are beyond the scope of what area municipalities need provide. Large 50m indoor swimming pools is no different.

            90M for a large indoor pool – “The key driver in the rec center initiative since it was first proposed is the construction of an indoor 50-meter competition pool” – is total madness.

          • JoeInReston

            Minor correction to my post above…

            The phrase, “the set of people that inconvenienced by the large of a large indoor pool is extremely small”, should read “the set of people that inconvenienced by the lack of a large indoor pool is extremely small”

          • Karen Goff

            Lake Newport is the only 50 meter RA pool. RA actually has more like 15 outdoor pools.

    • Terry Maynard

      Let me add that, in general, I think the following are true about the RECenter proposed in this article:

      1. Who pays? At this point, I believe It will be built with County and developer money, but some Reston special tax money may be used to conduct some programs there (presumably for Restonians + extra charges for non-Restonians). I base these thoughts on comments by Bill Bouie and Leila Gordon as well as RestonNow’s reporting.

      2. Who will use it? It will be a County facility and, therefore, anyone in the County can use it at the County (lower) rate. Non-county users will have to pay a higher rate. This is customary across the County. FWIW: One of Reston 2020’s greatest concerns about using Reston tax money alone for a RECenter was that NON-Restonians would comprise by far the bulk of the users.

      3. What’s the cost? This is the really big question. B&D studies prepared for RCC for a +/-90K SF RECenter were consistently coming in below $40MM construction cost. OTOH, they also showed that the rec center would never be “successful” (achieving an 80%-plus operating expense recovery rate that all County RECenters achieve). Bids for a similar proposal for an rec center in Arlington County–Long Bridge Park Aquatic Center–that had a few more bells & whistles jumped from $40MM to $80MM and with much higher operating costs than consultants (including B&D) had suggested. Arlington killed that project. A much smaller project was also killed in Vienna when project costs similarly shot through the roof. For details, please see: http://reston2020.blogspot.com/2014/01/two-area-communities-dont-think.html This will be a challenge for FCPA.

      The move to the County providing a RECenter in Reston–the only County supervisorial district not to have one–is a good one that will serve Restonians and other area County residents (& beyond). Its location in Town Center North is also a strong positive, locating it centrally in the community and NOT taking away valuable and well-used open space at Baron Cameron Park. We need to make sure, however, that the ~2 acres of parkland taken to build the RECenter is offset by at least a similar increase in park space in Town Center North for the 10-20 thousand new residents planned to live there.

  • Greg

    What happened to the Office Depot?

    • Karen Goff

      Google maps takes some liberties on scale I guess. Plus, I believe retailers pay to have their names on the map.

  • eggs in a basket

    Does every neo-con libertarian kook in Reston troll the Reston Now comments section these days?

  • RestonLyons

    It was reported that as it will be a County facility, there will be a County fee and and an out of the County fee, no Reston fee. Reston isn’t truly definable anyhow. I doubt if there will be Reston fees/funding. This building if any tax payer money is used will be from the whole County not the district that pays for the RCC. I think it is great and will improve our property values. The RCC was not built to handle the number of people who live here and will be living here in the future. We will have two high density area, plus the increased density at LA, all walking distance or a short bus or car ride from this location. Sorry I am not gloom and doom.

    • JCSuperstar

      Well said Lyons. I only wonder is Mr. Bouie giving the Reston residents what they need most. Money and time will tell.

      • Bill Bouie

        JC,

        I would be more than happy to speak with you and give you all of the details if you stop hiding behind the fake name. You are comparing apples, tanks, and pizza and I would be more than willing to sit down with you and go over this. Please contact me through the RCC or Park Authority with your full contact information and I will look forward to it.

        Thank you

        • JCSuperstar

          Thanks Bill. I appreciate your offer, but, I prefer everything being discussed in public. I believe Mr. Maynard has done a pretty good analysis of the proposed REC center; I see it’s benefits will likely exceed its costs. So I stand corrected. I look forward to seeing/hearing the details during the public process.

          Also, I agree with you – I was talking about apples, tanks, and pizza. Unfortunately, it appears – I say appears – nobody has been putting the pieces together. For example, as an outsider looking in – I don’t see a strong coalition of RA and the County addressing the needs of such a large community. Instead, I see competition and some overlap.

          Perhaps I’m wrong, but I cant find too many examples of a well honed partnership. Which may be difficult, as you have to look at the county’s needs as a whole.

          I’m curious, when a developer builds a residential complex in Reston, how much money per residential unit does the FCPA receive?

          Thank you for jumping into this little fracas here, you’re a brave, determined soul.

          • gullyterrier .

            The FCPA receives no money at this time from construction in Reston. Any monies go to the RA.
            Hopefully that will change.

          • Karen Goff

            That’s not true.

          • JCSuperstar

            Gully, my question refers to proffers from new residential development in Reston to the FCPA.

          • gullyterrier .

            I will say that only new development in the non RA areas. Redevelopment in the RA zones generates no monies or facilities for the FCPA. Even new developments do not automatically generate any funds of facilities for county residents. If the desire is for say transportation improvements over parks, then no money for parks.

          • Billy Smith

            The FCPA gets 1500 – 1700 per residential unit built in Reston and then they can take it wherever they chose and they can use it for whatever projects they chose. So if a developer builds a 300 unit condo in Reston they have to pay the FCPA a proffer of 1700 per unit or $510,000 but they don’t have to spend it in Reston.

          • gullyterrier .

            You have incorrect information. You should check with the County Zoning Agency for the correct details.

          • Greg

            If you have the correct information, and it appears may, would you please share it with the rest of us?

          • JCSuperstar

            It appears to me, reading the zoning and ordinance information, it can be as high as $1800, which includes Reston, which falls under Planned Communities. The language is:

            Amend Part 1, PDH Planned Development Housing District, Sect. 6-110, Open Space, by revising Par. 2 to read as follows:

            2. As part of the open space to be provided in accordance with the provisions of Par. 1 above, there shall be a requirement to provide recreational facilities in all PDH Districts. The provision of such facilities shall be subject to the provisions of Sect. 16-404, and such requirements shall be based on a minimum expenditure of $1800 per dwelling unit for such facilities and either:

            A. The facilities shall be provided on-site by the developer in substantial conformancewith the approved final development plan, and/or

            B. The Board may approve the provision of the facilities on land which is not part of the subject PDH District.

            Notwithstanding the above, in affordable dwelling unit developments, the requirement for a
            per dwelling unit expenditure shall not apply to affordable dwelling units.
            So again, I assume this is the upper threshold and can be negotiated. The question remains, when a developer does something within Reston, and/or the old RCIG, do all these dollars go to RA?

  • RestonLyons

    The County has been operating these facilities for a long time. They want to offer programs that will be used other wise they won’t have as many people paying to get for the service. If it were something new to them, I would be considered. We lived near one when lived by Fairfax Hospital. I took classes there. I have found the people here will be please what they offer. I have no idea what the people here want but can’t think it would be that different from other areas. I have nothing special to request. Fortunately I can leave the worrying to you. I have always felt it was totally unfair that we have to pay out side of out ownership taxes for RCC tax district when all other area of the County don’t have to pay extra for their recreation centers. I rarely go to the RCC, not convenient. It really isn’t a recreation center. It is a facility with a pool. and classroom plus a theater and a lovely place to have a concert.

  • Michael P. McHugh

    Time for an Economics lesson. (Seems in Reston it is always that time.) Lifetime costs enough for them to cover their costs and to make a profit. So, the goal here is to provide services at lower than market rates? To do that and cover your costs and not price yourself pretty much the same as the private alternatives, you will likely have to borrow more money and take more from the citizens. This, ladies and gentlemen is the Socialist impulse, and it always results in less efficient operation. Always.

    I am embarrassed for those who continue to propose ever more involvement of government and quasi-government in the provision of services that the local marketplace already offers.

    Meanwhile, the state and local government rushed to hand over public road capacity to private firms on preposterous terms. Sole source, was it not?

    How broke will I be before this nonesense ends? There is a limit to how much money I have.

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