Proposal: Lake House Exterior Changes Would Cost $1.2 Million

by Karen Goff June 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm 51 Comments

Lake House Map/Credit: RA

Reston Association’s Lake House project — under scrutiny by the community for the last several weeks after a $430,000 construction overrun was announced — is going to need some major exterior work, too.

The Lake House Working Group showed plans earlier this week for what the outside of the property would, could and should look like — and that includes a dock in Lake Newport; Americans With Disabilities Act modifications to the parking lot; park areas; and a rain garden.

The group says the parking lot closer to the lake (circle) reduction, as well as ADA spaces/grading, drainage and landscaping near cluster should get first priority in the exterior renovation schedule.

But don’t look for that work to be completed any time soon. At this point, the ideas of the working group are a de facto wish list for the exterior.

The original estimate for exterior work at the time of 2015’s member referendum was $9,000 (but that was for the basics such as paint and wood replacement).

With plans for new grounds, expenses for the exterior would be about $1.2 million, some estimates say.

The working group is in charge of giving recommendations about what should be done at the building, which was purchased by RA in July 2015 for $2.65 million.

It will be up to the RA Board to approve where and when the money is spent. First, it has to find the money though.

Some ideas discussed the Lake House Working Group meeting Wednesday included developer proffers; funds raised by Friends of Reston; grants; and from RA assessments (though the group said it felt strongly this option should not be used).

Meanwhile, the interior of the Lake House is finished and will open for its first revenue activities June 27, RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said.

RA says it expects to bring in more than $100,000 annually from camps, after school care (starting this fall) and event rentals.

The board is also looking to convene a group to determine how the overrun occurred and to put procedures in place to ensure an error that large does not happen again. That will be discussed at the June 23 Board meeting.

Photo: Proposed changes to exterior of Lake House/RA

  • cRAzy

    Let’s see:
    Purchase price $2,650K
    Repairs (so far) 687K
    Exterior work 1,200K

    TOTAL (so far) $4,537K

    For a property valued at $1.2MM. Such a deal!

    • Ernie

      Some of your K’s need to be M’s, but point taken.

      • John Higgins

        As the self-appointed k

  • This is criminal

    wut?The original estimate for exterior work at the time of 2015’s member referendum was $9,000. It’s now climbed to $1.2 million, the working group said at RA’s May Board of Directors meeting.”


  • Chuck Morningwood

    That new dog park is looking better and better. And as a revenue stream, RA could require higher priced passes.

  • Eric Carr

    The Tetra property is fast becoming the beast that ate our budget.
    The Lake House Working Group wants another $1.2 million to make it look
    nicer on the outside. That brings the total rehab bill to over $2
    million. For a property worth $1.2 million. So, in fact, this property
    really was worth nothing when we started, which is somewhat less than
    the $2.65 million we paid for it. With these new proposed changes, the
    total money spent on this thing will be almost $5 million!

    This is
    a black hole. It is sucking up all our resources. Let’s face it – our
    Board and CEO were suckered by Ken and his developer friend. I reiterate
    my plea from the 14 June BGC meeting: stop digging now. Pause. Develop a
    business plan for the property. Based on that plan, decide what the
    best option is for the property, to include bulldozing it, selling it,
    or eating the money and turning it into an actual community center that
    doesn’t cost $250/hour to rent. Any option should be on the table. Time
    to admit defeat.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Who would buy that dog now that its defects are public knowledge?

      “Yes I will buy it — after you do $2 million in needed renovations.”

      Right now the RA should consider bulldozing it and planting trees. The original rationale was opengreenspace, right? Starting to sound like this would cost a lot less than fixing it up.

      • Flash Gordon

        I RARELY agree with Ming, but on this we see evil beady eye to chiseled all American chest.

    • John Farrell

      Ken’s friend and now employer isn’t a real estate developer.

    • NorthRestonResident

      “The Lake House Working Group wants another $1.2 million to make it look
      nicer on the outside.” The working group does not “want another $1.2 million”, they are simply recommending ideas to the board, after many hours and weeknights of their volunteer time to attempt to cover all of the community’s needs. The finances are never shown until after ideas are given to the board. If you attended any of their meetings this would be clear to you. The next one is in September, show up with your concerns and realize these people are your neighbors not an elite group trying to spend all of your money.

  • concordpoint

    Is it April 1st? This has got to be a joke, #mistakebythelake

  • Lando Calrission

    This deal keeps getting worse all the time.


  • LHWG

    The front end of this article is a little misleading. I was present at the meeting and in no way was it suggested that the plan proposed was needed or required. The working group did a complete design that took into account the buildings new mission. We recognize that given the cost overruns none of the exterior work is likely to be done anytime soon. That being said it was a part of our scope to consider the entire property.

    I know that everyone is upset with us but we believe that we have created a wonderful asset for the community.

    • Karen Goff

      Right. That is what I am saying. This is more of a wish list as there is no money for this and it has not been approved by anyone.

      • NorthRestonResident

        Right, which is the entire point of the working group- to give recommendations to the board after hours of volunteer time, similar to the Pony Barn working group. They do not deal with money, never have. They are told the finances after they give their recommendations.

        • ItsNotMyMoney

          It would make much more sense if the working group were given some financial guidelines. Why waste all those hours for a plan which in no way can be realized. Restrict the wishlist to something that fits into a reasonable budget. What a complete waste of volunteers’ time.
          I wish there were more information regarding required changes (ADA changes, etc) and how much over the $9,000 budgeted they will take.

          • LC

            It would make sense but it didn’t happen. Even when financial guidance was requested.

    • Ming the Merciless

      ” we believe that we have created a wonderful asset for the community”

      Asset – something with positive economic value

      Liability – something with negative economic value

      It is very clear to the community which one Tetra is, though apparently the RA Board remains confused on this score.

      • Richard

        From what I can gather, the mission of the LAWG was given long before the cost overruns were identified. Their purpose was to derive the greatest benefit from the property for Restonians. Once could maybe complain about the timing of the report’s release, but the work is valuable and the group seems to have done a good job with the recommendations.

    • cRAzy

      What crap! If it’s so good, pay for yourself.

      • Overrunhell

        Greg, cRAzy, and others, I’m personally disgusted you choose to ridicule and chastise your neighbors who did nothing more than volunteer and give back to the community.

        To those honest folks attempting to have a real conversation here, well done!
        Just remember — “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
        ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

        • Greg

          Too bad. Neighbors or not, they’ve all facilitated terrible things, wasted millions of dollars and keep raising assessments for less and less every year. That’s disgusting.

          Also, what’s “personally disgusted”? As opposed to impersonally disgusted? #smh.

          Methinks your must be either a current or previous RA board member. Imagine that.

          The entire RA is a crooked disgusting embarrassment — from the overpaid, incompetent staff to the boot-licking board members.

          • Overrunhell

            This is pointless…You obviously have little or no reading comprehension. I was talking about the working group volunteers.

          • Greg

            Wrong again.

    • Greg

      “I know that everyone is upset with us but we believe that we have created a wonderful asset for the community.”

      What have you created? An wish-list of money-losing ideas? Please — if everyone is upset with you, you’ve failed.

  • Richard

    First, keep in mind that most of the commenters complain about everything, so don’t take it personally. In most cases they are far from the majority of public opinion.

    Second, their reading comprehension level is quite low. They don’t understand, or don’t wish to understand, that the LAWG’s recommendations are a wish list for future development at the property, not the required maintenance that was envisioned prior to the purchase.

    Stay on track to make this a great, long-term asset for North Reston, much like the Nature House was a nice asset on the south side. Thanks for your work!

    • Ming the Merciless

      I can’t imagine why complainers complain about being lied to and their money being squandered, and then complain when the same clowns who made serious financial errors come up with a wish list for spending another fortune in our money.

      • NorthRestonResident

        First of all, you do not seem to understand the difference between RA staff, the Board of Directors, and the working group. These “clowns” are members representative of the Reston community, from North Reston and South Reston, from the various clusters whose sole job in their hours of countless volunteer time is to come up with IDEAS for the exterior and interior use of the Lake House. These clowns are never told the finances. IF you showed up to any of their meetings, your privilege and duty as an RA member, you would realize this.

        • Ming the Merciless

          The “difference” is irrelevant. The RA staff – a bunch of clowns who wasted our money and continue to waste it – told these clowns to go create a wish list of ideas for wasting more money. The RA staff, who ostensibly know the finances, were irresponsible for asking these clowns to brainstorm ideas for spending more money, and these clowns were irresponsible for brainstorming those ideas when it is no secret that Tetra is in the hole financially even if they don’t know the exact extent of the damage.

          If my credit card balance is massively overdrawn, and you know that but you don’t know by how much, and I ask you to make a list of ways to improve my house, then I am a clown for asking you to do that and you are a clown for doing it without complete information.

    • Robert Mowbray

      The Nature House is an asset for ALL of Reston AND was not paid for by assessments.

      • Richard

        Leaving money to spend for other projects like this one.

        • Robert Mowbray

          Might have been better if this one had been paid for the same way the Nature House was paid for. The RA Board refused to budget our dues to pay for it.

    • John Farrell

      Whether the money for the exterior gold-platting is spent now or later, it still makes this boondoggle a disgraceful waste of money that principally benefits 3 homeowners.

      Can you say defalcation, boys and girls?

  • RestonForMe

    The Tetra/Lake House interior is quite lovely. It is also very modest with just 2 community rooms. The neighbors who were a major force with former RA Prez in getting the referendum approved clearly see the House as sort of theirs and they have exercised an outsized role in setting terms for its use–limited indeed. For example, they have gotten RA agreement to NO USE ON HOLIDAYS, and nightly closure by 9 PM, just 6 hours on Sundays. This, along with its modest size seriously limits revenue potential and the possibility of making a major contribution to paying off costs of nearly $2 million in addition to the $2,65 million mortgage.
    The LHWG has come up with some positive ideas for community uses, but it is hard to see how it will be possible for their best efforts to dig out of the huge financial hole made for them.

    • John Farrell

      That’s because the expenditure was always intended to only benefit 3 homeowners.

    • LakeNewportLady

      I’m not sure how the space could be any bigger….the footprint is kind of established.

  • Reston Watcher

    Why does the lake house need a dock? Will there be boats to rent? Or will I be able to bring and launch my own boat?

    • John Higgins

      This is an evil grin you see, as I contemplate a new revenue stream from gondola rentals at Lake House, or perhaps a percussion band barge. Of course, not on holidays.

    • LakeNewportLady

      I believe it’s so people can launch their own boats. The dock that is closest to the building is a cluster dock so not available for use by everyone.

  • Greg

    #smfh #doomed

  • John Farrell

    $4.5 to improve the view out 3 homeowner’s backyard.

    Excellent use of RA funds.


  • 30yearsinreston

    There should be a special assessment for the 3 homeowners by the lake
    Let them.pay for it

    Otherwise time to raze this useless money pit

    This is just the start of an endless cycle of oops

    • LakeNewportLady

      Which three does everyone keep whining about because there is a heck lot more than 3 on the lake?

      • 30yearsinreston

        If there is more than 3, that would defray the cost
        Let them pay for it

  • 30yearsinreston

    surprised they haven’t proposed closing off and clearing the parking lot
    Entrance would only be via the paths from the owners houses.
    That would preserve its exclusivity

  • Hopeful

    “This is more of a wish list as there is no money for this and it has not been approved by anyone.”
    I suggest they put this wish list in their sock drawer and forget about it. To even think about spending that kind of money on top of the existing investments borders on criminal. Maybe the focus should be on minimizing costs while trying to figure out how to squeeze some sort of income out of the project.

  • NorthRestonResident

    “With plans for new grounds, it has now climbed to $1.2 million, the working group said at RA’s May Board of Directors meeting.” This is untrue. The working group did not mention finances or budget at the May meeting- they are not in charge of that. All they have done is give recommendations of IDEAS to the board.

    • cRAzy

      No, someone who knew how to calculate costs (I hope), Kimley-Horn, told the LHWG this. All the LHWG did was propose all these costly renovations and improvements without thinking about costs.

  • Overrunhell

    As predicted, the opportunity to bring the community together over this matter has passed — replaced with vindictive discourse and little to no respect for neighbors. It’s a real shame this conversation has been so easily commandeered by a few. I suspect there are many who would like to share their thoughts, but likely not here.

    I look forward to reading a piece on collaborative efforts moving the community forward on this or any other item, important to all of us.

    • cRAzy

      This conversation was dead a year ago when the RA Board went ahead with the purchase of Tetra. The cost overruns have only added a huge financial insult to the injury. What’s the basis for “collaborative efforts” when the Board so ignores its community?

    • SickOfTheBS

      It would be really helpful if YOU were to write an OpEd proposing an idea for gathering a group of folks interested in putting forth ideas on how to fix this mess.
      You’re right, comments/commenters here on RestonNow is not a a very effective forum to do so.


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