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RA Board to Hold Meeting on Lake House Budget Review Contract

by Jennifer van der Kleut — December 6, 2016 at 12:00 pm 17 Comments

Lake House May 2016The Reston Association Board is scheduled to hold a special meeting Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. to discuss contract issues with MediaWorld, the firm it voted to put in charge of a review of the Tetra/Lake House’s budget overrun.

It has been more than two months since the Board voted 4-3 to go with MediaWorld for the budget review but the Board has yet to approve an official contract with the firm that would allow them to begin work.

After renovations at Lake House (formerly the Tetra Building) were found to be nearly triple what was originally budgeted, a review of the handling of the funds was deemed necessary. Earlier this year, RA moved $430,000 from its operating budget to help cover the project’s deficit.

All of that came after the RA took out a $2.7-million loan to purchase the building from its former occupants, Tetra Partners, which many citizens said they thought was too much to pay for the property in the first place. Fairfax County tax estimates put the building and land’s value at closer to $1.2 million.

In August, RA organized a panel to choose a professional firm to “review of the processes and internal controls that were followed across the organization in handling all decision-making, governance, administrative and financial aspects of the Association’s purchase, including the referendum, planned use, and renovation of Tetra (now known as the Lake House property), that have led to cost overruns and revenue shortfalls.”

Originally, citizens and RA staff members urged the Board to hire an independent firm to conduct the review in order for it to be completely impartial. But when it became obvious that the hiring of an outside firm could cost as much as six figures, the Board voted on a compromise — namely, going with MediaWorld but offering the help of RA members.

MediaWorld is a Reston-based company that offered to conduct the review for a fee of just $1 with the understanding that they could use RA members to help do some of the work.

In Wednesday’s special meeting, the RA Board said it will continue discussions over a potential contract with MediaWorld to spearhead the Tetra/Lake House review.

It is expected that the Board will go into executive session to conduct the contract negotiations–meaning it will be closed to the public due to attorney-client privilege, RA staff said.

The meeting could go a number of ways. The Board could come to an agreement with MediaWorld and vote to approve the contract, meaning work on the review could begin soon.

Or, if the two parties are unable to come to an agreement, the Board could decide not to continue negotiations with MediaWorld and decide to seek another company to work with.

At that point, they could go back to the list of firms that originally submitted proposals to the RA and decide to open negotiations with one of them. Or, the Board could decide to start a new search and allow other companies to submit proposals.

Wednesday’s meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters, located at 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive.

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  • cRAzy

    The fix is already in: Driven by paranoid RA atty. Chadwick at last mo’s Board executive session, the Board decided to dump Mediaworld, but it needs to give the appearance of propriety to that secret act. Tomorrow’s meeting will be the realization of that decision.

    What’s the Board have to hide that it is so insistent on secrecy???

    • Greg

      I am sure there is plenty; including the outrageous legal bills. What are they now? North of $500,000 per year?

    • Greg

      And $441,000 in IT services. WTF???

  • cosmo
  • Frustrated

    How about the fact that RA now runs an after school program at the Lake House that we all know was purchased for more then the accessed value. RA now has a fleet of buses to pick up students at the local schools, pays bus drivers $18.00 per hour in addition to paying for the staff at the after school program. So on top of over spending for the real estate purchase, renovations and attorney fees, there are now fleet, gas, bus driver and employee costs. Since when has an Home Owners Association role of responsibilities included an after care program and costs associated with it that are passed on to the homeowners members? How can Reston Association be stopped from spending members money and stop acting like a government agency?

    • Castro was right

      Reston is very expensive and these children are very poor, perhaps some of them came from Mexico on their own. It’s really in our interest to help them long term because otherwise crime will run rampant 20 to 15 years from now. If you don’t see the value in this take a listen-we really need to ratchet up our local social service programs because paying them to mow the law, do the dishes or bang the leaves is not enough. We are all in this together, I would propose a referendum to add an extension to the lake house, it’s really needed.

      Let’s be fair, live without guilt.

      • JoeInReston

        There are two different issues:
        1) the moral responsibility and benefit to helping out the poor
        2) whether the RA is an appropriate vehicle to help implement (1).

        Your argument deals with (1). The argument you are responding to dealt with (2). You can be for helping the poor (1) while still being against the use of RA to do it (2).

      • Greg

        The RA should not be in the business of providing child care let alone the political issues and costs of illegal aliens.

        If you want to take your money and even some of ours to help the poor, by all means do it, but not through the RA.

        One of the reasons Reston is “expensive” (despite the large amount of affordable and government-owned social housing) is because of the huge array of government-funded services for the underprivileged.

      • PizzaMan

        Have to call out the trolls when they appear. You voted for the Lake House, now you’ll have to accept the consequences of your decision. Be prepared for a similar fate in the next four years.

    • LakeAnne Resident

      It’s run by RA Camps and it’s not free and for what I’m paying clearly not subsidized. So I’m not clear how these costs are being passed on to the homeowners members.

      • Greg

        The RA is not supposed to be in the business of child care, regardless of who pays for it, and we doubt that the costs of providing the service are far from fully covered by whatever you pay. Moreover, there are plenty of tax-paying, RA-assessment paying private corporations that provide child-care services, including several in Reston.

      • cRAzy

        You may be paying the operating costs, but you are not coming close to paying the full cost of this boondoggle.

  • 30yearsinreston

    The RA has shown it is incompetent and cannot manage anything
    As a first step, there needs to be a wholesale cleanout
    Starting with the board, the staff on this gravy train need to be culled to a reasonable number
    No more fancy titles exorbitant expenses

  • JoeInReston

    On Sept 23, RestonNow reported the following ( https://www.restonnow.com/2016/09/23/ra-treasurer-warns-assessments-may-rise-over-700-in-2017/ ) :

    “In other RA news, the board voted to hire Mediaworld Ventures to conduct an independent review of the process used by RA to purchase and renovate The Lake House (formerly the Tetra property) last year.

    Mediworld will look at how renovating the property resulted in a $430,000 cost overrun.

    Mediaworld, headed by Reston Citizens Association President Sridhar
    Ganesan, will charge RA $1 for the review, which is expected to be
    finished in October”

    Its early December and the board hasn’t hired MediaWorld or any other company. What is going on? The review was going to be complete by October. Why has this issue been punted all this time? The longer the wait, the foggier the memories, and the less impact the lessons learned will be.

  • Seriously

    Drain the swamp. Can we find anyone to step up and force these corrupt idiots out?

  • dudewe

    Hey, the solution is simple and won’t cost a dime, fire the CEO and assistant.

    • 30yearsinreston

      Seconded

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