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Lake Newport Soccer Plan Tabled ‘Indefinitely’ by RA Board

by Dave Emke — February 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm 28 Comments

Lake Newport SoccerAfter a spirited member-comment session, the Reston Association Board of Directors decided at their meeting Thursday to indefinitely table a proposal from Reston Soccer to renovate the Lake Newport soccer fields.

About a dozen members of three clusters adjacent to the fields — Bayfield Station, Arbor Glen and Concord Green — spoke before the board to express their concerns about the project. The issues at hand include the worries about lighting, artificial turf’s effect on the environment, and increased disruption to the community due to field use at later hours, year-round.

“Neighbors from the most affected clusters are united in our opposition to Reston Soccer’s proposal and are angered at the manner in which the Reston Association has mismanaged this project,” said Eric McErlain, Bayfield Station homeowners’ president and organizer of a community coalition called Preserve Newport Fields. “In our view, the proposal violates RA covenants concerning the conservation of green space, and we believe it amounts to a taking of a shared community resource for the private gain of Reston Soccer.”

Similar issues were brought up during a community meeting on the proposal earlier this month. After that meeting, Reston Soccer requested a Design Review Board session on the proposal that had been scheduled for Feb. 21 be postponed.

Residents expressing their concern about the proposal pointed to Reston Soccer’s ongoing fundraisers as proof that the project’s approval by the board was a foregone conclusion. Director Julie Bitzer (South Lakes District) said the proposal’s timeline remains in its early stages.

“To think the horse is out of the barn, and that we put the cart before the horse, is jumping to a conclusion,” she said. “We’re not there yet.”

In their decision to table the proposal, the board also directed CEO Cate Fulkerson to work in collaboration with the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee and other strategic partners to develop a five-year strategic plan describing future amenities and facilities to serve RA and its members.

A number of residents of the communities around the fields stated they did not feel they were properly alerted to proposal and to each stage of the process. The board voted to direct Fulkerson to work with the Community Engagement Advisory Committee to develop a member-notification process — similar to the 21-day notice requirement established for design review applications — to gather community input when considering major recreation amenity proposals.

“Our communication out to the community of some of the changes is not perfect,” Bitzer said. “We have a lot of work to do to make sure we get the message out… [and] we need to do better on that.”

At-Large Director Ray Wedell cast the lone opposition vote on the decision to table the proposal, saying he believes it should be scrapped altogether.

“We can push the can down the road and say, ‘Let’s look at it later on and analyze it further,’ [but] we have a lot of other things to look at,” he said. “I don’t see this ever happening; I think the objection from the people is too strong, too organized.”

  • Heh

    “To think the horse is out of the barn, and that we put the cart before
    the horse, is jumping to a conclusion,” she said. “We’re not there yet.”

    Strong contender to win the Mixed Metaphor Prize for 2017!

  • Greg

    This is a very bad proposal and should be canned. For good.

  • Jeannie

    Go, Ray Wedell!!!! Thank you for not being a ‘follower’.

    • Rational Reston

      He just followed a dozen loud voices.

      • Jeannie

        Read the Master Plan.

        • Rational Reston

          Gladly. Could you point me to where in the 183 page Master Plan, it would be more helpful.

        • Rational Reston

          I’m just scanning through the Reston Master Plan on the Fairfax County website and I saw this in Figure 14. Core Needs for Reston Park System:

          Athletic Fields
          Diamond and rectangle fields for a wide variety of scheduled and unscheduled sport play for all age groups. As appropriate, fields should have synthetic turf and lights to ensure maximum playing capacity. While land for new fields will be needed, capacity-enhancing upgrades to existing athletic fields is also an option for meeting this need. A goal of adding capacity equivalent to twelve athletic fields serving Reston should be achieved through development contributions of land and/or facilities to meet the needs generated by planned Transit Station Area redevelopment. In addition to provision of new park and school fields within the TSA corridor, enhancements to and redesign of public park, school and Reston Association fields outside the TSA corridor will be necessary to increase capacity to serve increased athletic field needs in Reston. Development contributions to these improvements are expected to offset growth impacts.

          This would seem to support Reston Soccer’s ideas for the Lake Newport fields. Though there may be (and likely is) a contradiction in the Master Plan, it would be helpful to identify it.

          • Greg

            Not really:

            “While land for new fields will be needed, capacity-enhancing upgrades to existing athletic fields is also an option for meeting this need.”

            That field has been there for at least 30 years. Those who bought and live near it have just as much of a right (if not duty) to argue and protest against the option.

            The Autumnwood recreation area is underused and has a lot of undeveloped land far from most residences. That’s another, better, option for additional fields (and with a lot more parking).

            There is another option nearby — the petroleum and natural gas pipeline easements areas are open and unused in most of Reston.

          • Rational Reston

            Greg, not disputing the neighborhood’s options and rights to question the upgrades to Lake Newport. Jennie, repeatedly suggests to “Read the Master Plan”, and that’s what I’ve done.

            I wish the neighborhood was more open about having discussions. I see that there could be an opportunity to help fix issues of the field and the adjacent houses. But it is what it is.

            Suggesting Autumnwood, however is constructive. Though many trees and parking would need to be removed as well as the (likely unused) tennis courts which will raise a big fuss from that special interest group. Not so sure about installing fields on those pipelines, or if ti’s even allowed.

          • Greg

            Good points — my main point, poorly articulated, is that the master plan does not greenlight this proposal as I interpreted Jennie’s postings.

            As to Autumnwood, the pool is one of RA’s lesser used, so it could be paved over and used with the even lesser used tennis courts for one or more soccer fields.

        • I’d rather post as a guest

          Ok Jeannie, give it a break already with the “Read the Master Plan”. How about a line from Tim Gunn: “Make it work”, more in the spirit of what made Reston great.

    • LeadershipVoid

      All Wedell needs is some orange hair and he’ll be set to go.

      • Jeannie

        Please read the Master Plan.

  • Steve

    There are 63,000 people living in Reston and the Board heard from 12 of them last night. That is 0.02% of the population. If Ray Wedell makes decisions based on this extremely limited sample size, he is not qualified for the position he currently holds.

    The fields would benefit the 1,700 children who currently play Reston Soccer. Including their parents and extended family who come to watch practices and games, the enhancements to these fields would benefit over 5,000 people TODAY. That number will only go up as Reston grows and soccer grows in popularity.

    • Jeannie

      Pls. read the Master Plan, which would have been violated by such a proposal.

  • Beau Lendman

    It’s sad to see the selfishness that drives some in our community to block such a project outright that could benefit many children and their families and add value to our community. I’m sure the project could be refined to mitigate concerns. It is a real challenge to manage the politics when a vocal self interested very small minority’s interests conflict with a larger constituency. Reston should become a model in the application of conflict resolution techniques to find ways to fairly and reasonably address the concerns and objectives of different members of the community.

    • Jeannie

      Pls. read the Reston Master Plan, which would have been in violation were this proposal considered.

    • If you like soccer so much then vote for Robert Anguizola, a trial attorney and soccer coach!

  • doug fuller

    The reality is that Reston is growing and will need more recreational space for sports like soccer, lacrosse, football, etc. Unless someone donates a patch of land to build a field, we have to figure out how to make better use of our existing fields, which is why turf fields make sense. All of the RA fields Reston Soccer uses border houses, which means that a blanket “NO” from the Lake Newport neighbors means kicking the problem down the road to another neighborhood. If the neighbors took some time to see where Reston Soccer is coming from, we could creatively solve this problem and serve the needs of the most people.

    • Jeannie

      Please take the time to read the Master Plan, which would have been violated by such a proposal.

      • Greg

        What master plan? Where is it? What sections are relevant?

        • hlwsin

          from page 44 of the master plan :

          Diamond and rectangle fields for a wide variety

          of scheduled and unscheduled sport play for all

          age groups. As appropriate, fields should have

          synthetic turf and lights to ensure maximum

          playing capacity. While land for new fields will

          be needed, capacity-enhancing upgrades to

          existing athletic fields is also an option for

          meeting this need. A goal of adding capacity

          equivalent to twelve athletic fields serving

          Reston should be achieved through development

          contributions of land and/or facilities to meet the

          needs generated by planned Transit Station Area

          redevelopment. In addition to provision of new

          park and school fields within the TSA corridor,

          enhancements to and redesign of public park,

          school and Reston Association fields outside the

          TSA corridor will be necessary to increase

          capacity to serve increased athletic field needs

          in Reston. Greg, from

      • Hillary Lane Winstanley

        from page 44 of the master plan :

        Diamond and rectangle fields for a wide variety

        of scheduled and unscheduled sport play for all

        age groups. As appropriate, fields should have

        synthetic turf and lights to ensure maximum

        playing capacity. While land for new fields will

        be needed, capacity-enhancing upgrades to

        existing athletic fields is also an option for

        meeting this need. A goal of adding capacity

        equivalent to twelve athletic fields serving

        Reston should be achieved through development

        contributions of land and/or facilities to meet the

        needs generated by planned Transit Station Area

        redevelopment. In addition to provision of new

        park and school fields within the TSA corridor,

        enhancements to and redesign of public park,

        school and Reston Association fields outside the

        TSA corridor will be necessary to increase

        capacity to serve increased athletic field needs

        in Reston.

  • Rational Reston

    Another sad day, in a long line of sad days for Reston.

    Where we value the perception of being open and inclusive above actually being open and inclusive.

    While Reston Soccer’s ideas may not have been ideal for the communities, it seems that they were very open to a dialogue to find a way forward. Instead they’ve been greeted by angry voices and xenophobic comments.

    And the RA Board with no forethought of the greater community impacts just collapsed the idea and walks away.

    • Jeannie

      Please read the Master Plan, which would have been violated by such a proposal.

  • 30yearsinreston

    Last time I looked there was lots of space for soccer fields at Lake Fairfax Park

    • Rational Reston

      As Reston Soccer has explained, the problem with Lake Fairfax Park and Baron Cameron Park is that they are Fairfax County parks.

      Which means: 1) that residents and organizations of Reston have no priority in the use of those facilities.
      2) Those facilities are poorly maintained as that is apparently the standard of FCPA.

  • doug fuller

    At one of the RA meetings, several of the neighbors described how adults use the fields after dark, leaving trash, making noise and shining their headlights into houses as they drive around the parking lot. There was also a removal of trees several years ago, leaving little buffer between the fields and houses at one end. These problems can be addressed by attractive, creative fencing and plantings along with a gate to keep people out after hours. Trees may be able to be added between the fields as well. This will require more fundraising from Reston Soccer, but the result may actually improve some of the problems that already exist.

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