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Reston Soccer Says It Wants RA’s Space — Not Money — for Turf Fields

by Karen Goff — July 29, 2016 at 2:30 pm 11 Comments

Lake Newport SoccerReston Soccer wants to team with Reston Association in order to vastly upgrade two soccer fields.

The organization says it is not asking RA for is cash; Reston Soccer reps say they will raise all the money for the renovations, as well as pay RA rent to use the fields.

In a presentation to RA’s Board on Thursday, Reston Soccer President Robert Anguizola said the organization’s wish list includes transforming Lake Newport Soccer’s two grass fields into artificial turf fields made of plant-derived infill; LED lighting on both fields; and a clubhouse building with bathrooms.

The project’s very preliminary estimate to replace the fields and install lighting would be $2.4 million, Anguizola said, adding that a better estimate would come when engineering work begins.

The RA Board will return in its September meeting with a proposal to ask the community in a member if it wants the fields. The referendum would most likely take place next spring.

“I know RA is not in the mood, or some would say does not have capability, to fund anything new,” said Anguizola. “We are not asking you to fund anything. We want to model this after the Walker Nature Education Center [which was built by grants and community fundraising].”

“In a referendum, we would ask  ‘Does community want this amenity? Yes or No. If the answer is yes, then we would go fundraise. What we would ask, if we donate the money, then we want promise we can use it. You would end up having surplus time [to rent it for] other uses and sports.”

RA might end up having to pay to maintain the fields, but those costs would be paid for by field rental fees. Anguizola says Reston Soccer currently pays RA about $7,000 annually (on a per-player basis for players who do not live in Reston).

Lake Newport is the most suitable place in Reston on which to build the turf fields, Anguizola added. Virginia laws prohibit a public-private partnership on a Fairfax County Park Authority field (such as at Lake Fairfax Park or at Baron Cameron Park) with special requests for usage. Also, Lake Newport is the only RA field complex with two fields, as well as space for other potential amenities such as the clubhouse or a tot lot.

It may take some convincing to get RA and the community to sign off on lights. It took years to get lights at Brown’s Chapel baseball fields, an RA property, and the recent Lake House project involves very strict hours so outdoor lights do not disturb residents.

Anguizola said Reston Soccer has researched state-of-the-art LED lighting (similar to what lights recently installed at the new Yankee Stadium in New York). These lights provide lower glare than what are on most Reston fields now.

Adding turf and lights would add 191 extra field hours (assuming lights could be on until 8:30 p.m.) per season, plus an additional 550 hours in what is now the offseason, said Anguizola.

The board was very receptive to the idea.

“We already have soccer fields there why not try and make them the best we can make them?” said Lake Anne/Tall Oaks Director Sherri Hebert. “Lights could have certain hours. I don’t see a drawback to this proposal at all.”

  • Greg

    “Virginia laws prohibit a public-private partnership on a Fairfax County Park Authority field (such as at Lake Fairfax Park or at Baron Cameron Park).”

    Dumb law; it should be changed with the prohibition eliminated. If we can have PPP’s on our interstates, why not parks?

    • John Higgins

      Greg, the rest of the quote (“with special requests for usage”) is important to understanding this issue. Nothing prohibits a private entity from donating funds or assets to a government. (Google Clemyjontri Park in McLean for a great example.) The rub appears when the private partner expects a degree of control over the use or scheduling of the public park.
      To be clear, I tend to favor Reston Soccer’s proposal. Still, some would state it differently: “RA, your fields are shabby. Let us control how the members’ field may be used (we only want use during prime time) and we will build something that is first class. Oh, and as these things go, it is temporary. In ten years it will have to be replaced, so you will want to put aside $150,000 TO $200,000 each year until then to replace it.”

      • 30yearsinreston

        B, b, bu, bu, but , they said it so be free
        Yeah, right

      • Greg

        Perhaps, but can’t all of those issues be addressed as part of the PPA and accommodating law? Field maintenance and standards can be part of the agreement and funding. I don’t think it’s a surprise to many that our parks, from national to neighborhood, are not in a good state of repair (Washington Monument and its elevator come to mind) and that there is always more to maintain than funds, pubic or private, available. Isn’t the public better served with a better funded park with some special requests than not?

        And, yes, I am aware of Clemyjontri Park, including the deterioration it suffered for reasons I don’t recall. We lost Margaret’s Garden south of Reston to developers for lack of acquisition funding and maintenance, so if this soccer-field deal goes through, I think there should be an endowment of some sort for those six-figure rebuilding costs. Those costs should never be solely paid for by RA members.

        Also, this is RA property, albeit underused, so is it right and fair to open it for much more intensive use to many who are likely not RA assessment-payers?

      • Rational Reston

        That’s really extrapolating. RA and RSA can agree that replacement costs be shared or put squarely on RSA, too.

        • John Higgins

          Clearly, you are right. Annual gifts to a replacement reserve fund are possible, perhaps essential. I introduced the issue because this is one of the “details” that too often are overlooked in evaluating new projects. In addition to the cost of acquiring and renovating a major new RA facility, (the Lake House) money must be put aside now and in the future to repair and replace its capital components. How much has been put aside for that purpose so far? As far as I can tell, “zero” is the correct answer.

  • JoeInReston

    If the plans proceed as Reston Soccer hopes, will the fields be open to the public for general use when leagues aren’t in play?

    • John Higgins

      Basically, yes Reston Soccer is an extensive (and excellent) program serving some 1,400 kids of all ages. Between play, practice and player development these fields will be busy. Other organized use of the fields is also controlled by RA. When not reserved, they are and will be “open to the public”.

      • Faunasong

        Do you know about how many hours the Newport fields are used currently? How many hours would RSA be wanting/anticipating IF the changes were made? For what percentage of available “field time” would RSA being reserving the fields and what percentage would be “open to the public”?

        • John Higgins

          Good questions. Regret that I don’t have any info to help answer them. If lighting is provided, I presume RSA would be seeking more total hours and a high percentage of the lighted hours.
          I tend to view this proposal as similar to Little League’s domination of the ball fields, with an important distinction: there are far more pick-up games of adult soccer than of baseball. This proposal needs to be examined very carefully.

  • Guest

    Maybe RSA should just go buy some land and build the fields, maybe even inside, any way they want them–and maintain them itself.

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