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by Dave Emke — March 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm 2 Comments

Good Beginnings SchoolThe site of a private school in Reston is facing a changing future.

Kensington Senior Development LLC is working with Fairfax County on an application to put an assisted-living facility at 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive, the current home of Good Beginnings School. Miaoling Lin, the school’s administrator, says the site is expected to operate as a school through at least the end of 2018.

The sale of the property to Kensington is contingent upon the plan’s approval by the county, Lin said. Meanwhile, a permit has been filed with Fairfax County for Oak Hill Montessori School to open at the site for a month in April.

“They are in between buildings, and we are shrinking, so we have room for them to use temporarily,” Lin said.

Lin said Good Beginnings will continue to operate at the site through June, after which a school called Mosaic will take over the facility.

Lin said some of the staff of Good Beginnings in Reston will be staying on site with Mosaic and some will be moving to the school’s Loudoun County campus in Stone Ridge. The school has a meeting scheduled for Thursday night to introduce Mosaic to parents interested in staying at the current site after June.

by Dave Emke — March 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

United Christian Parish - RestonA coalition of faith-based organizations will put on a conference Saturday in the effort to help build understanding between communities.

The Social Justice & Peace Conference, hosted by United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive), will include workshops on how people from different religious backgrounds can support immigrants, the trans community, environmental justice and more.

The event’s keynote speaker will be Dr. B. Chris Dorsey, president of Higher Education & Leadership Ministries. He will speak on “A Social Justice Paradigm for Building and Sustaining Authentic Community.”

Organizations participating in the conference will include Higher Education & Leadership Ministries, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, Interfaith Partners for Justice, Unitarian Universalist Church, All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Equality Virginia, Washington Plaza Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church and National City Christian Church.

“In light of recent events, it seems more important than ever for people to come together to discuss and work together for social justice,” said James Dean, an organizer of the event. “We will not agree on all of the issues, but we can find common ground and we can work together to advance justice, peace and inclusion.”

Advance registration is encouraged, but on-site registration will also be available at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. A concert by UCPraise! will start the event. For more information, contact Dean at 571-830-8730 or [email protected].

by RestonNow.com — March 16, 2017 at 1:30 pm 5 Comments

Charles Dorfeuille/RAVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is Charles Dorfeuille, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. His opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Eric Carr (profile), Mike Collins (profile), Ven Iyer (profile) and HeidiAnne Werner (profile). The six squared off in a candidate forum last week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

I have lived in the area for around 15 years, nine of which being in Reston Proper. Even when I didn’t live in Reston I would always find myself here, be it because of the Town Center or Lake Anne. My family moved here from Herndon because of the strong sense of community we saw here.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Through my involvement in the Community Engagement Advisory committee I had seen many inefficiencies in RA policy that I have not seen the board properly work on. I see many ways to improve RA, and also want to see a Reston where more of us are taking full advantage of what RA has to offer!

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

For the short term, I think that redevelopment and rezoning are my biggest concerns. If this is not properly faced, it will have negative effects to our community for decades to come.

For the longer term, though, I see the rapid assessment increases as a very serious issue we must at least try to take on in a serious way.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

I hope to accomplish three things in my three-year term. The first is to increase the role of cluster presidents by better involving them on issues that concern them. Increasing the role of community leaders will provide much needed public input channel for communities potentially impacted by RA projects, like the Lake Newport soccer fields.

The second goal would be to revive our fight to maintain Reston’s open spaces. With the green space of Reston National still at risk, we need to make clear to all that we as a community value our open space above all else.

Lastly, I would like to see the board work on our unfair assessment system. We now have a system where the new luxury apartments are paying half what normal apartment residents pay in assessment dues. I also believe we should add a new cap that will make the assessment increases both marginal and predictable.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

I have grown up in this community, and as a result have taken advantage of youth-oriented programs. I know how to make these programs better through trial and error. I was also an original member of the Parks & Recreation Advisory committee and the Community Engagement Advisory committee. Through these postings, I have been able to learn the processes of RA and how things are done. This experience will allow me to hit the ground running if elected to the At-Large seat this April.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILES:

by RestonNow.com — March 16, 2017 at 11:30 am 8 Comments

Mike Collins/RAVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is Mike Collins, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. His opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Eric Carr (profile), Charles Dorfeuille (profile), Ven Iyer (profile) and HeidiAnne Werner (profile). The six squared off in a candidate forum last week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

My wife, Sarah, and our two young sons decamped from the West Coast to live closer to family and make Reston our home in 2008. I first learned about Reston while studying City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. Textbooks usually focus on Reston’s innovative architecture, layout and amenities, but they miss the genius of Bob Simon’s plan. His whole point was to bring people together to form communities and to create space for engaging nature. That’s what keeps us here.

What inspired you to run for the board?

This is actually my second time seeking a board spot. I represented the North Point District from 2010 to 2013. Although I absolutely loved serving our community this way, I did not seek re-election due to a job opportunity that did not allow for both.  

I want to return to the board because I know that the quality of life we enjoy here does not happen by accident. It takes a lot of work. Not only am I willing and able to do it, I actually enjoy it! I chose to run this year in particular because five or more directors will leave the board in the next two years and I believe my prior experience on and off the board will be particularly valuable in grappling with a strained budget and the challenges of development.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

For Reston in general, our primary challenge is integrating new development in ways that do not overwhelm us. RA must have a very strong voice in trying to mitigate their impact on traffic, aesthetics and other quality of life issues. That’s why, as a Director, I strongly encouraged RA to hire land use counsel who can advise the Board and help advocate our community’s interests. I will also support a Design Review Board that takes a firm stance against projects that are out of character with our neighborhoods.

Second is the challenge of integrating new residents into our community. Residents of most new projects near Metro will not automatically become members of RA. That does not mean we can’t offer them that opportunity and some developers have already joined voluntarily. This can help build the sense of community that Bob Simon envisioned and help RA’s budget because new members will pay assessments without adding much cost.

The third challenge also relates to the RA budget. Recent overspending has severely constrained RA’s ability to maintain services and amenities, could preclude new programs and projects, and created upward pressure on assessments. No one wants to pay higher assessments, but I am particularly concerned on the impact on the nearly 5,000 (25 percent) households in Reston with annual incomes under $50,000.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

I hope to help take Reston Association in a new direction, where people see a greater value for their assessment dollars, have more trust in the board decisions, and see an improved, more cohesive Reston. Specifically, I will focus on:

  1. Improving Communication — I truly believe directors must conduct direct outreach to their constituents. Personal relationships allow directors to get input beyond three minutes at a board meeting and provide them with the opportunity to explain their positions beyond press releases. I was the first RA Board member to create a newsletter for his constituents. I also attended numerous cluster meetings and convened three town halls. I got yelled at alot, but enjoyed every minute.
  2. Reforming the RA budget process — Too often, directors simply accept staff’s budget proposals without looking behind the numbers. Worse, the Board does very little to make sure that staff sticks to the budget. Directors must be willing to delve deep into the details to assure accountability. Given RA’s history of the recent Lake House project and the reconstruction of the Dogwood pool, I will not support new projects until RA can ensure delivery on-time and on-budget.  
  3. Improving our pathways — Reston’s paths were mostly designed for recreation, but they could be reoriented so we can walk or bike to places we need to go. This would not necessarily require the addition of entirely new paths. A few tweaks here and there could enhance connectivity and safety.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

Professionally,  I was Congressional staffer for six years, including three as Outreach Director for Congressman Gerry Connolly.  I have 10 years experience as a lawyer with experience in litigation, contracts, and homeowners associations.  I have served on the board of a chapter of Habitat for Humanity and currently serve on the board of the Fellowship Square Foundation, which provides housing for 460 very low-income seniors in Reston.

Personally, my family and I have been involved in the best of what Reston offers. My sons go to FCPS schools, are involved in its Boy Scout troops, and have spent many fun summers at various RA camps. We set a summer goal — and met it — a few years back of visiting all 15 RA pools. We’ve jumped in Lake Anne at Freezin’ for Reason and sweated out many a July morning as part of the RSTA’s Lake Newport Lightning. We are living the Reston experience, and know Reston families’ concerns and priorities firsthand.

Learn more about me at www.mikelikesreston.com.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILES:

by Del. Ken Plum — March 16, 2017 at 10:15 am 46 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

A headline in The New York Times in December 1992 proclaimed that “Virginia Aims to Shed Image as a ‘Handgun Supermarket.”’ The Commonwealth got that reputation when a Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms study found that one of every four guns used in a crime whose origins could be determined had been bought in Virginia stores. In Washington, D.C., one in three traceable guns had been bought in Virginia.

Gov. L. Douglas Wilder was quoted in the news story as saying that “Virginia is the No. 1 source for handguns on the East Coast, and we must stop the trafficking or become known as the ‘Grim Reaper State.'” The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia at the time was reported as saying that, “No other East Coast state has gun laws as lax as Virginia’s laws — not South Carolina, not Georgia, not Florida. Nobody. This has to stop!”

I was in the House of Delegates and supported Gov. Wilder in getting a one-gun-a-month purchasing limitation law passed in 1993. I have been in the House in the period since then and have watched in opposition as the gun supporters passed exemption after exemption to the limitation until in 2012 they repealed the law, with Gov. Robert McDonnell signing the bill to repeal it.

Last week, an Associated Press headline brought back the theme from 1992: “NYC cops thwart gun ring that exploited looser Virginia laws.” Twenty-four people, including 22 from Virginia, were charged in a 627-count indictment for trafficking guns bought in Virginia and sold in New York.

The traffickers were caught on wiretaps. One was quoted by New York authorities as saying, “There’s no limit to how many guns I can go buy from the store. I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. I can do that Monday through Friday. They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away.”

As we work to build the image of the state to attract business and industry and to break free from an Old South reputation, events like last week bring back references of Virginia being the gun-running capital of the East Coast. The repeal of the one-gun-a-month law is but one example of a series of bills that have been introduced to weaken Virginia’s gun safety laws. There were other bills that nipped away at the few gun safety laws that remain. Fortunately in the last three years and again this year, we have had Gov. Terry McAuliffe to veto these bills.

The influence of the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, is enormous. With few exceptions, the members of the majority party fall in line to support or defeat bills as directed by the gun lobby. My background check bill supported by about three-fourths of voters and the governor cannot get past a subcommittee, where it is continually defeated on a straight party-line vote, four to one. Too bad we have not learned from history!

To better appreciate the debate that goes on about gun laws in Virginia, watch the gun bill debate video.

by Dave Emke — March 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

1900 Reston Metro Plaza/James Schaeffer Jr.

Reminder: Community Meeting on Street Designs Tonight — Bike lanes, crosswalks and center turning lanes will be among the topics of conversation at a Fairfax County Department of Transportation community meeting tonight at Dogwood Elementary School. Colts Neck Road, North Shore Drive and Twin Branches Road are being considered for the changes. [Reston Now]

Local Students Named to Honors Choir — A total of 77 Fairfax County middle-school students have been named to the 2017 All-Virginia Middle School Honors Choir, which will perform April 27-29 in Blacksburg. Among the honorees are Chelsea Camacho, Hannah Carter, Violet Sather and Thalia Tran from Langston Hughes Middle School; and Johnny Park, Hannah Townsend and Mackenzie Trimble from Herndon Middle School. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Christy Zeitz/Fellowship Square FoundationFellowship Square Foundation Names New Director — Christy Zeitz (pictured), formerly the executive director of HomeAid Northern Virginia, is the new executive director of the Fellowship Square Foundation. Zeitz was also the former director of development for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance of Reston. The Reston-based Fellowship Square Foundation provides affordable housing and supportive services to low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. It operates four properties, including Lake Anne Fellowship House and Hunters Woods Fellowship House in Reston. [Fellowship Square Foundation]

Home Listings Down in County, Sales Up — The number of active home listings in Fairfax County in January was 1,977. That number is down 17.4 percent from a year ago. Meanwhile, 794 homes were sold in the month, up 6.9 percent from January 2016. The average sale price was $545,772, up 8.1 percent. [Fairfax County]

Photo of 1900 Reston Metro Plaza courtesy James Schaeffer Jr. on Facebook; photo of Christy Zeitz courtesy Fellowship Square Foundation

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — March 16, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

The second annual DC Bike Ride is your chance to pedal down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, taking in the iconic sights of Washington, D.C., but without dodging traffic!

As a bonus, this year’s DC Bike Ride offers a fun and exciting Mother’s Day opportunity that the entire family (ages 3+) can enjoy. The 20-mile, car-free ride takes place Sunday, May 14, starting in West Potomac Park and finishing, after traversing closed roads in Washington and Arlington, on Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol.

DC Bike Ride begins at 8 a.m. and music and activities at the Finish Festival wrap up at 1 p.m. Registration is now open at this site. Register by March 26 and use the code RESTONNOW to save $10.

The course, which will have live music and aid stations, is designed for riders of all fitness and experience levels. The ride is mostly flat, very scenic and noncompetitive. If 20 miles sounds like a lot, there is a 6.5-mile turnoff point, but most riders complete the course and start enjoying the Finish Festival in about 90 minutes.

DC Bike Ride was created in 2016 by Arlington-based Capital Sports Ventures as a way to “celebrate life on two wheels,” said Tassika Rodphotong Fulmer, senior director of business operations. “We wanted to do an event locally for the vibrant bike community, to get new folks onto bikes, and to provide a unique perspective in our nation’s capital.”

Tassika said last year’s inaugural DC Bike Ride raised $38,750 for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, to help support street safety initiatives in the region as part of  Washington’s Vision Zero effort, which works to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2024.

New this year is an opportunity to sponsor riders from underserved communities. You can chip in $1, $5, $10 or $48 and sponsor the registration fees for selected participants from organizations like Gearin’ Up Bicycles whose purpose is to create career development opportunities and teach essential workplace skills to teenagers from underserved communities.

Children must be 3 years old or older and those under 7 participate for free but must ride in tandem or pulled in a trailer by an adult. Bike, tandem and trailer rentals from our partner Bike and Roll DC are available at DCBikeRide.com.

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