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Reston Association Board Agrees to $45K Review of Lake House

by Dave Emke January 27, 2017 at 11:30 am 18 Comments

Reston Association Board Meeting - Jan. 26, 2017

The Reston Association Board of Directors has agreed to a $45,000 independent review of its Lake House project, to be conducted by the StoneTurn Group. Terms of the review require the work to be completed by Feb. 28.

According to information provided by the Reston Association board about the deal:

StoneTurn was one of the original finalists chosen by the Tetra Review Committee to conduct the impartial study. After a local company, Mediaworld Ventures LLC, terminated contract negotiations with the Reston Association earlier this month, the board moved to enter into negotiations with StoneTurn immediately during its regular monthly meeting Thursday.

Several concerned residents addressed the board Thursday evening, following the announcement by Vice President Michael Sanio, to share their thoughts about the ongoing saga. Karen Wilkens, of Waterview Cluster, said she is frustrated about what she sees as continued overspending on the project.

“I’ve lost a lot of faith in Reston Association, and I’m stunned to hear that you’re contemplating signing a contract that would spend an additional $45,000 on that property,” she said. “The amount of money that was overspent, it’s gross negligence.”

The Lake House property was purchased from Tetra in 2015, for a cost nearly double its tax assessment. Renovations on the property to transform it into a community building have cost three times more than expected. An independent audit was requested.

Mediaworld Ventures LLC came together and announced they would do the work for a $1 fee. After months of negotiations with the RA board over the details, that proposal fell through with finger-pointing from both sides.

Reston resident Jill Gallagher, a management consultant and former budget analyst, was a member of the Mediaworld committee. She addressed the board Thursday night and expressed her sorrow over the fact that the hard work the committee did was, they view, stonewalled by the RA board.

“I was very disappointed that we didn’t get the contract,” Gallagher said. “We had worked very hard from August until the end to try to understand what happened.”

Gallagher provided board members, for the record, with the assessment the committee had drawn up regarding the meeting at which the board voted on a referendum to purchase the property.

“We had many, many questions, including a two-hour executive session that occurred before the project was even presented. To members, it looks like a lot of the decisions were made before you even heard about the project,” Gallagher said. “A lot of things happened at that meeting that your members are not aware of. I think that is the source of this problem.”

Ed Abbott, representing Reston Recall, provided the board with a report on what his group — which has the expressed goal of having board members involved in the Tetra/Lake House purchase removed — has analyzed about the deal.

“The only way Reston gets back to its purpose as defined in the deed, articles of incorporation and bylaws, is to elect a board with a majority of members who will undertake a thorough evaluation of RA’s organization including but not limited to the senior staff leadership team,” Abbott said. “Reston Recall will be reaching out to the candidates in the upcoming election and supporting those that agree.”

Concerns about the quality of the board’s minutes were also brought up during the meeting — first by a director, Sherri Hebert, who questioned the report from a Dec. 7 special meeting with the Mediaworld committee.

“[The minutes] lacked any substance, meaning there was nothing in the minutes that even talked about why the meeting was happening, nor what some of the major concerns were within the discussions,” Hebert said. “I’d like to see the minutes be added to… to add some of that context to the minutes. Minutes should be written so that if we want to reflect on them at some future time, we know what happened.”

Board Secretary Eve Thompson said the board’s standard for minute-taking is not to try to capture the dialogue, but rather just to capture topics and decisions.

“I believe I followed the standard as I understood it,” Thompson said. “What else would one put? That people were upset? That people were happy? … I don’t think it’s realistic and it’s not the standard of any of our minute capture to try to do that.”

The Dec. 7 meeting was also not video recorded and placed on YouTube, as regular meetings are.

The board eventually agreed to re-assess the minutes from the Dec. 7 and Dec. 13 meetings and bring them back for approval at February’s meeting.

Citizens who spoke later in the meeting also expressed their feelings about what they see as bare-bones minutes. Resident James Dean said given controversial actions such as the Lake House purchase, residents deserve more from the board’s meeting reports.

“It may be usual for you to just record votes and actions,” Dean said. “[But] your membership wants more information from you than just a recording of your actions and your votes.”

The next meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23.

  • cRAzy

    For those who do want to see a fairly thorough set of notes on the December 7 special RA Board meeting with Mediaworld, Reston 20/20 posted notes and commentary. Maybe most importantly, it shows Eve Thompson’s disdain for RA members, i.e.–“the peanut gallery.” Here’s the link: http://reston2020.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-peanut-gallery-perspective-summary.html

  • Drip

    My family is considering moving to a bigger house and specifically told the realtor that we want to look in the area but outside of reston due to the downward spiral re RA’s lack of accountability and complete waste of member funds, along with other factors such as paid parking and increased traffic. The Reston charm is gone. Why Fulkerson is still employed is beyond me.

    I also always pay my Reston fee right away in full, but I honestly haven’t been able to bring myself to pay it this time around. I want to send a note back with the word “Tetra” and nothing else.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      Why ask why? Just do it.

      • 30yearsinreston

        They will put a lien on your property

  • 1 of 5 hours

    As Lucinda Shannon board member pointed out the board has trouble with motions and how to add action items to the meeting. Much of the time is spent bickering and passive aggression, over simple things like meeting notes. Also, that the board practically denied three months of free effort conducted by media world, with one of the employees raising very valid points about some of our board members doing good work and speaking out against the cost overruns.

    Also, Ed Abbot, very touching how he raised the Tetra issue but to his detriment probably one of the worst public speakers.

    Many issues also were raised with transportation 2050 and how the county may further complicate RA budget plans and actually threatening its existence.

    Lastly, RA priding itself on webtracs having accomplished 30% voting electronically, or 6000 member votes. This is very dismal, it should be 80+ % , why webtracs so complicated.

    These points and more should all convince you, we need a solid board working together and we need to get rid of the bad apples at a minimum. Its not hard to tell who is who, and I am happy to hear Ed may be able to tell more along with residents that had worked for mediaworld.

    There is always hope but we need a solid team and without a election participation we will just end up further down the hole. Reston dock, pony barns, expensive tennis water coolers etc need I say more.

    • Ed Abbott

      If you would like to see our report it is on Facebook.com/RestonRecall. Also, I will work on my public speaking. Not sure what you mean by “touching.”

      • 1 of 5

        I was touched, emotionally, you spoke from the heart and I realized you put a lot into this effort. Perhaps the reason why your words did not come out so easily.

        Thanks for making Reston better,

        • Ed Abbott


          • Tammi Petrine

            Ed, you have served RA for years and you know much. Thank you for your efforts to uncover the rot at RA. There is much good but the bad actors need to be exposed and banished.

        • Conservative Senior

          Ed may speak from his heart but he & Terry Maynard also speak with solid facts surrounding the entire Tetra/Lake house mess. They have tried to inform the entire Reston membership with the realities & cover-ups by the board. Sign up on FB-Reston Recall.

    • 30yearsinreston

      If it was gone I wouldn’t miss it
      The glossy PR magazine should be scrapped immediately

    • Reston2000

      Some Board members are doing a great job asking the right questions, slowing down the process, and making sure that the discussion is captured in meeting notes. There are many gaps in meeting notes. For example, in the meeting when the Board was discussing the project for the first time, several Board members cautioned about the pace, and suggested that the process be slowed, and this was never reflected in minutes. Not good!

  • 30yearsinreston

    The best thing that could happen is if R
    A and the Parasitic ‘senior staff’ are fired
    Too many bloated chiefs aka directors and too few workers
    Last example of a director having 2 staff in his ‘department’ is farcical

  • Reston2000

    A couple of us on the Mediaworld team have continued to analyze all the documents leading up to the Lake House purchase…we provided the Board with our analysis and questions from the first meeting on the Lake House, and will continue to release our findings as they are completed. Here is the link to the summary of the first meeting: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3T_QngHS_LWenBhZnVLaVVicDA/view

    • #mediaworld

      I dont think we need to spend another 45k to come to the same conclusion.

      Thanks, good job.

  • cRAzy

    StoneTurn Group has FOUR WEEKS to collect, analyze, draft, and finalize a report based on interviews, review of the public record, and access to heretofore hidden RA documents. Don’t expect much more than a whitewash–which is just what the RA Board is seeking.

    StoneTurn would do well to begin its effort with the work by Recall Reston, the Mediaworld team members, and the eight issues laid out by Reston 20/20 last summer. Certainly the community will compare what StoneTurn produces with these publicly available benchmarks.

  • ichrysso

    Were the terms and conditions for the Stones Turn contract more amenable to the RA Board than was MediaWorld’s contract? This article seems to be absent this very important detail considering the reasons why the MW negotiation fell through…

    • Reston2000

      Totally agree – I would like to see that contract and see if they were offered the same terms – great point


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