RCA: Library Should Be a Top Priority for Town Center North

Reston Regional LibraryThe Reston Citizens Association is concerned that the Reston Regional Library will be minimized in the upcoming Reston Town Center North development plans.

Fairfax County is preparing for the redevelopment of 49 acres from New Dominion Parkway to Bowman Town Drive and Town Center Parkway to Fountain Drive. The area encompasses the current Reston Regional Library, the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, the North County Human Services Center and the former Cameron Glen Care Center site.

The development will be completed in phases, and the county recently received Requests for Proposals (RFP) for developers interested in working on the first two phases. There will be more discussion on the RFP at a community meeting Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Reston Community Center Lake Anne).

In a white paper authored by RCA member Hank Schonzeit, RCA highlights the importance of Reston Regional Library in the community and outlines concerns such as a long shutdown, like the one at Pohick Library, which recently closed for renovations for an estimated 18 months.

“The Reston Regional Library is an integral and vital part of Reston and for many of us it is one of our most valued local institutions,” reads the white paper. “It is also the busiest library in the Fairfax library system. At the same time the community recognizes that the Reston Regional Library is currently undersized, underfunded and understaffed.

The library goals are derived from RCA discussions with library staff, email correspondence, and independent research. Library staff was not asked to take an official “position” as they are employees of the County, said RCA.

Some of RCA’s goals for the new library:

  • The library management should have oversight and final review of the design of a new library.
  • The Phase I redevelopment should include a modern, accessible library, with adequate dedicated free parking.
  • Given that the Phase I of the RTC North redevelopment does not include Blocks 1, 3 and 5, the location of a rebuilt library should be within Blocks 7 and 8.
  • The new library must be sized right, for both Reston’s current and planned growth – between 60,000 and 80,000 square feet.
  • Funding for the increased staff needed for a larger library should be allocated by Fairfax County.
  • The redevelopment should eliminate or minimize the time that library is in temporary quarters.
  • Consideration should be given to opportunities for added revenue generation such as the inclusion of a café within or adjacent to the library.

“Many Restonians feel that the library is under siege,” the author continues. “The library budgets continue to be cut and many staff positions have been left unfilled. At the same time, other local counties are investing more in their libraries. For instance, Loudoun County has one library staff person per 1,500 residents, while Fairfax County has one per 3,000 residents.

“At the July 29 meeting both speakers stated only that the library ‘may’ be included in the redevelopment. Given this atmosphere, RCA is concerned that the library will be moved to temporary quarters and remain there for years, as have the classroom trailers around Reston. “

The white paper also has suggestion a smooth transition for the Embry Rucker Community Shelter. The paper suggests the shelter relocate temporarily to the former site of the Cameron Glen Care Center, which would be renovated to house the shelter. The paper points out that Cameron Glen already has sleeping quarters, an institutional kitchen and other facilities a shelter would need.

The paper suggests building the new library on the site of both the current library and the shelter and building a new shelter eventually on a parcel closer to Town Center Parkway and Baron Cameron Avenue.

“This approach satisfies the major requirements for RTC North redevelopment, Phase I,” the white paper says. “It allows for uninterrupted operation of the library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter; provides additional space for both (currently undersized) facilities; and addresses the challenge of placing market-price housing near a homeless shelter.”

See the entire white paper in the document below.

TC North Redevelopment – RCA White Paper

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