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RA Pools Open This Weekend — With Big Cutbacks on Schedule

by Karen Goff — May 23, 2016 at 11:30 am 19 Comments

Ridge Heights Pool/file photoWhen Reston Association Pools open for the season May 28, double check pool schedule before you grab your towel.

Seven of RA’s 15 pools are open weekends only from May 28 until Fairfax County Public Schools close in late June. That’s a departure from recent years, when most pools were open, even if just for a few hours in the afternoon, during the RA pools’ “Season 1” schedule.

It’s part of a money-saving measure the RA Board approved in a vote last September.

Reston Association’s outdoor pools cost about $1.6 million annually to administer and staff. They also take in upwards of $800,000 in revenue, according to RA documents.

Changing to the weekends-only schedule early in the season is going to save about $10,000 annually, RA estimated when examining making the change. There will also be a reduced number of pools open in late August. That will save the association another $14,000.

RA aquatics officials said that the pools are scarcely used during mid-day hours while children are still in school.

Here is what you need to know:

From May 28 to June 23 it is weekends (Friday evening-Sunday) only for Dogwood, Golf Course Island, Lake Audubon, Newbridge North Hills, Shadowood and Tall Oaks pools.

North Shore and Ridge Heights, RA’s two heated facilities, are open daily from 1 p.m. (11 a.m. on weekends). Also open daily, but with more limited hours, are Autumnwood, Glade, Hunters Woods, Lake Newport and Uplands. See the complete schedule on Reston Association’s website.

The “Season 3” summer schedule, with all pools open daily (minus one day a week for cleaning, training, special events and lifeguards’ day off), runs June 24 to Aug. 21.

Four pools — Ridge Heights, North Shore, Glade and Lake Newport — will be open Aug. 21 to Sept. 4. In previous years, eight pools had been open during that time. RA has said staffing problems are widespread in late August as aquatics staffers head back to college.

The RA Board had looked into permanently closing the least-used pool in each district: Shadowood in Hunters Woods/Dogwood; Tall Oaks in Lake Anne/Tall Oaks; Autumnwood in North Point; and Newbridge in South Lakes.

Autumnwood has had an average of 10,165 visitors per summer over the last five years; Shadowood, 3,542; Newbridge, 4,211; and Tall Oaks, 4,587, RA said.

Closing each pool would save RA from $47,116 to $59,849 per pool annually, but that would only result in a savings of less than $3 on annual assessments, RA estimates show.

Larry Butler, RA’s Senior Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources, said the expense of shutting down and repurposing a pool becomes very expensive. The board voted to keep those pools open.

Butler said it cost RA about $700,000 to repurpose Lake Anne Pool into a park more than 10 years ago. He added that $40,000 was in demolition costs alone.

Board members said last fall closing pools is a tough subject that is worthy of more discussion, but not as a means of keeping assessments down. They said it should be part of a future bigger discussion on facilities and long-range planning.

“Some pools are just not getting utilized and it is costing us,” At-Large member Michael Sanio said when the board discussed the pool issue in September. “We have to look at what the opportunities are for savings.”

  • Pools

    Close pools but purchase the Tetra building. Great job RA.

    • Mike Maestas

      Let me understand. You’d rather have all the pools open for the entire schedule than purchase an asset?

      • Reston.All.Grown.Up

        Will there be an ROI on the asset?

      • MaggieSays

        “Asset”.

  • cRAzy

    Yes, close the pools so we can spend an EXTRA half-million dollars on the Lake House. http://reston2020.blogspot.com/2016/05/tetra-renovation-nearly-half-million.html

    • ItsNotMyMoney

      Even if the figures in that report are accurate, the additional $22 per household is totally worth the extra money from our pockets. It’s simply the price we need to pay for the preservation of greenspace. Even though it mostly benefits only those residents on the lake, the feeling of community protecting those properties from the evil greedy developers certainly overshadows the cost per household.
      It’s easier to think of it as simply giving up a weeks worth of lattes for the preservation of greenspace

      • cRAzy

        Well, first, the Tetra office building is not “greenspace” by any stretch of the imagination.

        Second, if the building were torn down, NOTHING could be built there because Lake Newport and the areas around it are part of the
        Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area (RPA)–a federal law protecting the Bay. Let me say that again: NOTHING could be built there. That is why no one else was interested in the property, especially at its outrageous price.

        So, instead of spending $2.6MM plus growing renovation costs, we could have just let it rot and the owner would have eventually torn it down, if only by county decree.

        Then we would have had added “greenspace.”

        • Mike M

          I think the post is in jest.

    • NotCrazy

      Personally I’d rather reduce the schedule on a few under utilized pools and own the Tetra building than have pools open and staffed with no one using them. Not that it was Tetra vs the pool schedule, but when you put it that way it seems like a silly comparison.

  • Reston.All.Grown.Up

    I just read some where that RA is changing the motto….Live. Work. and Less Play! keep up the good RA!!

    • Nyla J.

      No one has time for play. We have to work more to keep up with all the tax hikes, special assessments and subsidies. Yay Reston!

      • Mike M

        Live, work, pay!

        • Reston.All.Grown.Up

          Brilliant Mike!!

      • Reston.All.Grown.Up

        Maybe RA in its infinite wisdom realizes this and is showing us the way. How silly of me? Now I see it! RA is slowing removing the Play so we have less options to Play and focus on our our obligations!!! Thank you RA!!

    • Reston.All.Grown.Up

      Hypothetically speaking, wouldn’t it be funny if RA closed all the pools and then kept raising assessments (as they do normally) but cited the rising costs of maintenance! Then RA realizes they closed the pools and so they cited the rising costs of maintaining the trails…then they voted to close the trails…too funny! Of course, this is pure conjecture as my math isn’t very good! lol

  • dick

    RA spent $650,000 on legal fees last year…not sure for what. That money could have kept most of OUR pools open.

    • Reston.All.Grown.Up

      You bring up a very good point! Maybe, I can refer RA to legalzoom.com. If we go with them, we might be able to save a few dollars! lol

  • Greg

    The Shadowood pool should be closed for good just was the RA’s expensive consultants recommended years ago. Nothing has improved and attendance at the Shadowood pool hardly justifies the cost of operating and maintaining it for fewer than eight weeks a year. Close it and be done with it!

  • Greg

    They must be hiring the law firm to do this work! Those numbers are outrageous and absurd.

    “Butler said it cost RA about $700,000 to repurpose Lake Anne Pool into a park more than 10 years ago. He added that $40,000 was in demolition costs alone.”

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