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Money for Reston Rec Center May Be Five Years Away

by Karen Goff — March 11, 2015 at 9:30 am 15 Comments

RTC NorthFairfax County Park Authority Chair Bill Bouie says the process to build — particularly amassing the funding for — a 90,000-square-foot indoor recreation center in Reston will not be a quick one.

The money to build the facility in the Town Center North area will primarily come from bonds. There are two upcoming bonds to be voted on — an $87.7 million bond to be put to voters in 2016 and an $88 million bond on the ballot in 2020, said Bouie.

“The projects and bond categories for those bonds have not been determined at this time,” he said on Tuesday. “Those discussions will take place later on this year and early next year. The eventual rec center will have to be built with a combination of bonds and proffers within these confines.”

The cost of the facility, which would probably include a 50-meter indoor pool, is not yet known. Previous estimates for a smaller facility at Baron Cameron Park were $30-40 million. Those estimates came from a feasibility study done by Brailsford & Dunlavey for Reston Community Center, which looked into a partnership with FCPA to build a rec center at Baron Cameron Park.

Baron Cameron Park is also a FCPA park. RCC, whose 25-meter indoor pool at the Hunters Woods location is more than 35 years old, spent two years discussing and obtaining community feedback on constructing a new rec center on land at Baron Cameron donated by the park authority. Last year’s Master Plan update for Baron Cameron Park includes an indoor rec center option.

That proposal was met with mixed community reaction. Some of the concerns: traffic, whether there is really demand for a new facility and unfair costs to Small Tax District 5 (Reston) residents.

Bouie says the FCPA will be seeking developer proffers to help pay for the Town Center North facility. Typical proffers are around $800 per residential unit, he said. 

Bouie also said that the Brailsford & Dunlavey report will not be applicable to the Reston Town Center North plan. The FCPA will conduct its own studies, he said.

“Park Authority staff will handle the design and programming of any new facility,” said Bouie. “FCPA is in the process of wrapping up our overall parks needs analysis with a 10-year view. FCPA will put together a business plan for the facility as it will be a part of our Revenue Fund and will not be supported by the General Fund or property taxes.

“The B&D study was necessary because of the hybrid nature of the proposal and the mix of people that were slated to use the facility. The new facility will be a park authority owned-and-operated facility and will be open to ALL county residents. Restonians will not receive any additional discounts because it is located in Reston, so this is as much for Great Falls, Herndon, and Vienna that will now have a closer rec center.”

The Hunter Mill District is the only area of Fairfax County without its own county recreation center.

There will be a public hearing on the topic April 8 at the Fairfax County Government Center at 7:30 p.m., and the FCPA Board will vote that night whether to proceed. After that, the county will put out a Request for Proposals to see developers’ ideas for the space bordered by Town Center Parkway, Baron Cameron Avenue, Fountain Drive and Bowman Towne Drive.

“We will have a better idea once proposals have been received to see what developers are proposing to do with their developments,” said Bouie.

Meanwhile, the Reston Swim Team Association this week approved a resolution in support of the county facility.

Said the RSTA resolution:

Swimmers of all ages develop valuable traits in and out of the water that help them throughout life, including strong organization and time management skills, good sportsmanship, teamwork and mutual respect.

Reston Community Center’s current indoor pool at Hunters Woods Village Center is 36 years old and in need of modernization, and is not adequate for hosting competitive swim meets. RA outdoor pools are open less than 20 weeks out of the year.

There is not enough available pool time and space in the Reston area to meet the current demand for aquatics programs, causing Reston to lose its young swimmers to other non-competitive Reston teams.

The RSTA fully supports the construction of a new 50-meter indoor pool facility dedicated to year-round developmental and competitive swimming and diving.

A new REC center would further enhance the “Live Work Play and Get Involved” principle Reston was founded upon by enabling Reston to train swimmers and divers of all ages, attract and develop knowledgable instructors, coaches and officials and boost the local economy by enabling Reston to host major swim meets.

Photo: Town Center North area/file photo

  • JoeInReston

    Reston is part of the larger Northern Virginia community, which is part of a large DC metro area community. Each area in the community does not need its own a self sustaining set of resources. Reston residents wishing to swim in a 50m pool have many options outside of Reston (they can also make do with the 25m indoor pools in Reston during the winter and 50m outdoor pool at Lake Newport in the summer). The fact Hunter Mill is the only district without a recenter is not justification for building a rec center. It is the opposite. Given that Fairfax has plenty of recenters, Fairfax leaders should look to devote resources to something Fairfax community lacks.

    Than there is the broader issue of whether a community is obligated to provide a 50m indoor pool to its residents. How many residents benefit from that 50m pool that wouldn’t be able to derive the same benefit from the existing 25m pools? The estimated $87.7 million dollar price tag can be invested in something that benefits a far larger set of residents.

    Largely, this discussion is being had while the county is short on resources and is going to be forced to make budget cutbacks. The main economic engine for the community – government spending, particularly defense spending – is in a bear market.

    • Bill Bouie

      Please read the article in full. The cost of the Center is UNDETERMINED at this time. The Park Authority is SCHEDULED for a $87.7M Park Bond in 2016 which the voters of Fairfax County will vote on. The contents of this bond has not been determined at this time and all of the bond WILL NOT be dedicated to a Rec Center in Reston. Any facility that will be built will be supported by a business case in which the Rec Center will pay its own way and not be supported by taxes or General Fund monies for its maintenance or operation.

      • JoeInReston

        Terry Maynard from a prior thread: “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… This will be a challenge for FCPA”

        The article mentioned that previous estimates for a smaller facility at Baron Cameron Park were around $30-40 million. Given that this facility is larger, and given the estimate is dated, it will definitely be over $40 million. That is still way too much for an extra 25m in pool length.

        “Any facility that will be built will be supported by a business case in which the Rec Center will pay its own way and not be supported by taxes or General Fund monies for its maintenance or operation.”

        Self sustaining given that it doesn’t have to make mortgage/rent payments? Or will it make bond payments?

        Also factor in opportunity costs of using that real estate for other purposes.

        • Terry Maynard

          OK, Joe, please do not try to use my comments to justify your position. And let me start by saying that Bill Bouie and I more often disagree than agree–sometimes publicly–about a rec center and/or the community-funded RCC (as I’m sure he can attest), but I find myself in alignment with him here.

          1. It is certainly the belief of the local swimmers–a large & vocal group–that they should not have to drive all over the County to use a 50M indoor pool. While I am not a swimmer, I tend to agree with them for several reasons. We are already paying for all the other rec centers so why shouldn’t we have one in our district? There is certainly sufficient demand/need to support one. Whatever else is wrong about the B&D studies, there is no doubt that a new indoor pool will be well used. The current 25M pool at RCC is over-booked and over-used. There simply isn’t enough room there for everyone and all the different uses people would like to put it to.

          2. It will not be a “community pool;” it will be a County pool usable by ANYONE from ANYWHERE with non-County residents paying a hefty surcharge. The good news is that it will be located in our community so we won’t have to pack a bag to go use a swimming pool.

          3. The construction price IS a BIG unknown, and I personally believe it will be closer to $80MM than B&D’s estimates around $40MM. BUT, as Bill states, we won’t know a likely price until the County studies it. And frankly, I actually think they will provide a better estimate than B&D. In the end, the projected cost will be included in the referendum question that all Fairfax citizens will have a chance to vote on (although I hope it’s not 5 years from now).

          4. As for paying for the rec center, property owners county-wide (through property taxes) AND DEVELOPERS (through proffers) will pay for its construction assuming the bond passes. Its operation and maintenance will pay for itself and, as I have said before based on B&D’s reports, FCPA may actually generate a small surplus that will help defray capital updates through its user fee structure. Such a rec center would NOT be successful (defined by B&D as recovering less than 80% of its operating costs) IF owned/operated by RCC simply because of a too small user base in Reston. An RCC facility would have resulted in higher Reston tax district tax rates to cover both building and operating costs based on my analyses. That won’t happen with a County-based recreation center so far as I can tell.

          5. Finally, the larger and most recent of the earlier RCC proposed facilities would have been 87,600 SF–not much different in size than 90,000 SF one discussed here–which B&D priced at $35-$40MM. (For specifics, see p. 25 of this B&D report update: http://restoncommunitycenter.com/docs/default-source/board-documents/brailsford-amp-dunlavey-project-update-november-4-2013.pdf?sfvrsn=0 ). In fact, I think it would be premature to hold FCPA firmly to that 90K figure. I think it could go +/-10K depending on costs, interest rates, facilities included, etc. We will just have to wait and see.

          • Bill Bouie

            Thank you Terry!!!

          • Terry Maynard

            You’re welcome, Bill, but you OWE ME! !;^)

          • Adrian Havill

            The gadflies unite.

          • JoeInReston

            “OK, Joe, please do not try to use my comments to justify your position”

            Depend on the context of how I use your comments. To clarify, in this instance, I was NOT saying “I justify my opposition because Terry Maynard doesn’t like it”. Instead, I was saying, “Terry Maynard thinks it may cost a lot more than $40 million”. Do you not think the project may cost a lot more than $40 million. Perhaps I should have trimmed the comments better, but I wanted to leave the full context lest I be accused of taking something out of context.

          • Terry Maynard

            As I say again above for the 3rd time (#3 above), yes, I think it may cost twice as much as B&D forecast, BUT I also think that spreading that doubled cost over 15X residents/property owners and at least 10X businesses (see #4 above) makes a tremendous difference in the cost-effectiveness of this proposition.

          • JoeInReston

            “As I say again above for the 3rd time (#3 above)”

            The question was rhetorical in this instance. The point of the post was to clarify how I used your original comment as you had appeared to misinterpret its use.

          • JoeInReston

            To your other points:

            we’ll have to agree to disagree. I am of the belief that local swimmers should have to drive all over the County to use a 50M indoor pool. They already exist elsewhere in the county. Its too niche to devote additional county resources towards.
            That fact that they are vocal should have no bearing on the ultimate decision.

          • Questions

            We are already paying for all the other rec centers so why shouldn’t we have one in our district?
            I am unclear on when they were built (all at the same time?) and how they were funded.
            That said, they don’t all have 50M pools (do they?). There might be a good case for us to have a rec center, but not necessarily a 50M pool, because so few people need to use it.

            Frankly I’d be much more interested in a kid-friendly water play area – like the ones at Claude Moore and Cub Run – than some la di da super-big pool.

    • Cluster Tycoon

      I think you declared yourself the authority on this topic when you started your comment with “Reston is part of the larger Northern Virginia community, which is part of a large DC metro area community.”
      After checking the map and after double checking, yes, I confirm you are right. And so the rest of your comment must be right on target. Way to go, no need to even read further.
      Thanks,

      • JoeInReston

        I don’t understand your comment. Can you elaborate on your critique?

  • east297

    Get me out of Reston! More taxes to the county…there are enough rec facilities in Reston!!!!

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