RA Approves Pony Barn Concept, But Must Find $350K to Implement

A project that began as an idea to add a concrete floor to Reston Association’s Pony Barn Pavilion has morphed into a total remodeling of the park, including a playground accessible for people with disabilities, a tot lot, a paved pathway, a historical information kiosk, cooking grills and a deck to overlook a butterfly garden.

The makeover has also upped the price tag to about $350,000.

Reston Association’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the new concept at its meeting on Thursday. The RA Board allocated $30,000 for the project more than a year ago, but it has not made a commitment to paying the remainder of the costs.

Larry Butler, RA’s senior director of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources, pointed out that the board has “$175,000 for each of the next two years available in the capital budget.”

Whether to allocate the needed money will be discussed at upcoming 2016-17 budget hearings. There was also mention on Thursday of fundraising and partnership opportunities to be explored.

Butler said the $350,000 price tag is not out of line considering the North Hills Pavilion area cost about $250,000 to build in the early 1990s.

The Pony Barn area, once the site of an actual pony barn in Reston’s early days, is a small park at Triple Crown Road and Steeplechase Drive. It currently has a swing set, a grill, a small parking area, a grassy area and a picnic pavilion with a mulched floor.

RA asked members for ideas at a series of meetings in summer 2014, where the mention of a Memorial Garden of Reflection, endorsed by the Initiative for Public Art Reston (IPAR) caused some friction among citizens.

Pony BarnBy late 2014, that idea was tabled, and a Pony Barn Working Group was formed. The group came up with the current proposal.

“We really value the parks,” said group member Renette Oklewicz. “Our primary goal is to refresh the parks and keep them part of the neighborhood and accessible to all Restonians.”

Oklewicz said the Pony Barn is really two parcels of land “that have been neglected.”

“Maybe we have earned some extra [money],” she said.

North Point Director Dannielle LaRosa questioned whether the working group had a prioritization list in case the entire funding amount does not come through. At-Large Director Ray Waddell said that the board should save money for what may a battle to fight development at Reston National Golf Course.

“This is a pretty big budget,” he said. “I am not saying it is not necessary, but I consider the golf course the biggest issue in this town. This is one example of competing for resources. The Pony Barn may be able to wait 6 or 12 months; the golf course cannot.”

RA will pay for an upcoming engineering study, said RA spokesman Mike Leone. The concept will also move on this fall to RA’s Design Review Board for discussion, changes and approval.

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