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Reston Association Picks Engineering Firm for Pony Barn Plan

by Karen Goff — February 25, 2016 at 4:30 pm 6 Comments

Pony Barn Renderings, July 2015/Credit:RA

Reston Association set to hire Christopher Consultants to do civil engineering work on the new plans for the Pony Barn Recreation site.

RA recently put out a request for proposals. Four proposals were received and reviewed, it said.

Christopher Consultants is a Fairfax-based group that has done work for Springfield Town Center, The National Zoo, Mount Vernon, Arlington’s Long Bridge Park, Dulles Sportsplex and many more.

The firm’s tasks will include development of a minor site plan, ensuring ADA compliance for site features, addressing Fairfax County code requirements, and coordinating with the Pony Barn Working Group.

RA says its Design Review Board will consider site plans for the renovations in late spring or early summer before submitting the plans to Fairfax County.

After discussing for over a year what should be done to remodel and repurpose the aging picnic pavilion and surrounding land at Steeplechase Drive and Triple Crown Road, the RA Board approved the renovation plan in July.

The remodeling plan began as an idea to add a concrete floor to the pavilion but in the end morphed into a total remodeling of the small 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 from $30,000 to about $350,000. Money is available in the capital budget, but RA has said it is also looking into partnerships.

The Pony Barn area was once the site of an actual pony barn in Reston’s early days. 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.

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

  • John Higgins

    This will go down as perhaps the greatest unnoticed blunders of the RA board. The original proposal was, indeed, to repurpose this facility. A garden-like park, with a nod to public art, and the concept of a place to go for quiet escape. At $30,000, it sounded okay. Reacting to inferences from the words like “memorial” and “reflection”, the folks nearby got nervous. Fine, said the board, what repurposing would you like to see? Answer, same purpose, but up the budget by 1,100% and we will have one fine picnic pavilion. Done.

    One can only wonder if anything was learned from this as we hear from yet another working group on repurposing the old Tetra property.

    • Ming the Merciless

      We just can’t seem to stay away from the expensive bad ideas.

      • meh

        That’s what happens when people like Ken Plum are around.

    • PeopleAreCranky

      Here’s one thing that can be learned. If you ask people what they want and they tell you what they want, and then you find a way to do what they want, some people will STILL complain.

      There’s no winning for anyone. I’m amazed that anyone volunteers for anything in this town.

      • John Higgins

        I have to agree with just about all of what you say. Asking for member input was the right thing to do. And when you do that, you have to give great weight to their recommendations. I would offer a somewhat different lesson. When forming a study group, give them a boundary within which to work. Lack of that is what I was thinking when I called this a “blunder”. Now, it you can find a way to make it happen, maybe it’s not so extravagant after all. But look at what that “way” was….funds put aside for other repairs and renovations were redirected to this use. How will those funds be replaced? By increased assessments. Ultimately that’s always how one makes it happen.
        I have considerable respect for what the boards do for us. Comments on perceived mis-steps might inform future decisions. Or they may disagree and ignore the crank.

  • Nyla J.

    The remodeling plan began as an idea to add a concrete floor to the pavilion but in the end turned into a plan to pave everything and call it a park.

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