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

by Karen Goff — July 31, 2015 at 2:55 pm 16 Comments

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.

  • MJay

    “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”
    Is this the same Ray Waddell that issued numerous bombastic and unprofessional statements in support of spending millions of dollars for the Tetra property? Many of us said it back then that RA was spending money without prioritizing, and this appears to be the first evidence that the chickens will come home to roost.

    • Sigh

      The great thing about making dishonest and illogical arguments, as he did, is that there is no need to be consistent afterward. You can have a different crazy lie for every day of the week!

  • Commonsense

    350k? Really, 30k would have been plenty to clean up the space, it’s really small.

  • jvb11

    I think the Pony Barn project should go ahead. There should be equal resources for the North and South Reston parks. Highly disagree with the thought of saving the $350,000 to spend on legal fees for the golf course issue.

  • Brad

    Stay gold, Pony Barn.

    • Sigh

      Too bad the RA read that as “spend gold on pony barn”…

  • Mike M

    Organizations that have too much money buy more stuff than they can maintain. They rarely figure future maintenance costs into the buying plans. I am reminded of the Soviet Bloc where the Socialist built so much new stuff they couldn’t maintain it and it crumbled. Then there are the Chinese who build cities where no one wants to live. Then the Saudis who dispose of their cars when they have maintenance issues. Then there is the RA, busily setting itself up for future political battles on what gets maintained and what is left to rot. But that won’t be until we they start to run out of other people’s money.

  • Helen Hartmeyer DunnDisqus

    Sounds great, one additional suggestion..skylights to bring some light into the shelter.

  • Reston Crimewatcher

    Only in the world of RA can a 30K project become a 350K project and no one blinks an eye. A kiosk for historical information? Really?

  • Kim

    Brad – that was priceless. Stay gold, Pony Barn. I laughed out loud. The Outsiders was my favorite book when I was a kid.

  • John Higgins

    The RA budget for the next two years has not been developed and won’t be approved by the board until the last quarter of this year. The board set up a reserve for new spending like this. So, either they will draw down the reserve or put aside $175,000 in 2016 and again in 2017 for this purpose (if this is the high priority on their spending list.) I think reserving for new investment is a great idea, but that plan shouldn’t be confused with an actual budget.

    The project has, indeed, morphed from a renovation to a reinvention. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Can we afford it after the major investment in Tetra? As others have pointed out, it comes down to priorities. Note that RA ended 2014 with revenues in excess of expenses of $913,000. And that’s after deducting non-cash expense (depreciation) of $1.6 million. That comes close to a “wow”. And it makes a $350k investment sound quite affordable.

    • Ming the Merciless

      ^ Perfect example of what’s wrong with America…

      1. “If we have money, let’s spend it!”
      2. “If we don’t have money, let’s borrow it!”
      3. “Whatever we want to spend money on, let’s call it an ‘investment’!”

    • Ed Cacciapaglia

      Since there is such a large amount of revenues in excess of expenses, it would seem prudent to use this excess to reduce the rate of increase in our annual RA assessment instead of planning on how to spend more. I live near the Pony Barn and notice a distinct absence of usage of that facility. Perhaps selling it to finance a portion of the Tetra boondoggle would make more sense.

  • The Italian Job

    Let’s spend, spend and spend some more why don’t we?
    We can always soak the residents and raise assessments if we need more funds, right?

  • Psy

    Can I dance in the pony barn

  • Twilight Sparkle

    How about a Brony Barn instead

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