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Concerns About Library, Public Services Dominate RTC North Feedback

by Dave Emke — June 1, 2017 at 2:45 pm 14 Comments

The future status of the Reston Regional Library was frequently brought up by attendees of a community meeting Wednesday regarding Fairfax County’s plans for the Reston Town Center North development.

Project coordinator Joan Beacham, of the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, said both the library and the Embry Rucker Shelter will be demolished to make room for the first stage of development. DPWES hopes that construction on the project will begin in 2022.

“We want to make sure everyone understands this is a long-term development,” she said. “Things aren’t going to happen right away.”

What is planned to happen when work does begin, Beacham said, is the transfer of the library and the shelter into temporary facilities. The temporary library, she said, would top out at 6,000 square feet — a figure that caused great concern to residents, as the current library is about five times that size.

“The Reston library has over 1,000 people a day that go to it,” said Dennis Hays. “We’re talking about 1,000 Restonians a day who will not have a [full-sized] library to go to for an indeterminate amount of time.”

Hays and other residents suggested the Request for Proposals for development ask applicants to commit to building the new facilities before demolishing the existing ones. The new library, Beacham said, is planned to be 39,000 square feet and exist on the first one or two floors of a new high rise at the same location. The new shelter, planned to be more than twice the size of the current one, is proposed for a similar “urban form” layout.

In the redevelopment, the 50-acre area — bounded by Baron Cameron Avenue, Town Center Parkway, New Dominion Parkway and Fountain Drive — would be realigned into nine parcels, which would then be rezoned into urban blocks. The first two parcels slated for redevelopment are Blocks 7 and 8, which include the library and the shelter.

“We feel in order to move forward with 7 and 8, temporary facilities will be required,” Beacham said. “This is the way that public facilities are repaired and replaced all over the county — it’s not just a situation with Reston.”

Both Beacham and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said replacing the library and shelter is a priority of the project, as they are outdated facilities in need of additional capacity.

In total, Blocks 7 and 8 are planned to include:

  • 360-420 market-rate residential units and 30 county-supportive housing units
  • 174,000-244,000 square feet of private retail development
  • 28,000 square feet of office space for nonprofits
  • the 39,000-square foot library
  • a 25,000-square foot shelter

Future plans for other blocks in RTC North include the development of a 90,000-square foot recreation center by the Fairfax County Park Authority, replacement of the North County Human Services Center, and a 6-acre central green space among 10 total acres of open space. Redevelopment of the whole area is expected to take more than a decade.

Residents who attended Wednesday night’s meeting also challenged county staff on promoting a population increase through the project without addressing needed amenities such as additional schools, fire stations and parks. Many who spoke on the subject have brought up the same issues during community meetings regarding the county Department of Planning and Zoning’s proposal to increase the overall population density in Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District.

In response to the concerns about schools, Beacham said developers are required to donate $12,000 per projected new student to Fairfax County Public Schools. That money is turned over to the school board’s capital improvements fund.

“The school board can use that money however they want, as far as their Capital Improvement Program,” she said. “Fairfax County Schools tracks population, they’re aware of this development.”

Gayle Hooper, landscape architect for the Fairfax County Park Authority, told citizens that there is a “broader plan” for new parks in the area. The Comprehensive Plan calls for three new athletic fields to be constructed in Reston’s TSAs.

“There is a need for more fields than that, but [the Plan] points out the potential that those fields should be specifically in those locations,” she said. “Developers, when they come in, have a requirement to meet that need. In Reston, they have a prescribed dollar amount per square footage of development they need to pay that will go toward athletic field construction or improvement to existing fields.”

Hooper said there is a plan to expand fields at Baron Cameron Park and add lighting and synthetic turf, which “greatly expands the amount of play you can get throughout the season and within the hours of the day.”

Reston resident Tammi Petrine, though, said there is a lack of land within the corridor to construct new schools or to provide parks that are walkable for urban residents.

“I go to Reston [Planning & Zoning committee] and I see the applications that come through, and every one of them passes the buck — ‘No, we’re not providing a field, we have 34 acres but we’re building curb to curb,'” she said. “This is what we’re getting. It’s reality versus theory.”

The presentation from Wednesday evening’s meeting is available on the DPWES website. Beacham said anyone interested in submitting further comments about the plan can email [email protected] within the next week.

  • cRAzy

    For those who care, the Dept. of Public Works wanted your questions and concerns on its plan as presented last night within a week. Unfortunately, it hasn’t bothered to post its presentation yet. Yep, that’s how much they care.

    • 40yearsinreston

      Apparatchiks only care about their positions

    • cRAzy

      It finally posted the presentation Friday PM.

  • Tired of it in reston

    I’m not sure why the shelter needs to be transferred and not just eliminated/moved someplace else. The facility imports its beneficiaries from who knows where – it doesn’t serve the community in which it resides – and brings additional vagrancy, trash, commotion (witness the occupied bus shelters nightly) and is a contributor to the filthy bathrooms in the library where “residents ” use them as washrooms/bathing facilities. Also, it generates panhandlers in front of the library itself…I am sure the day care center, the library patrons (young children among them), the elder care facility, and the adjacent condo owners, would not mind seeing this place move someplace else.

    • Part of Reston

      The Embry Rucker Shelter in fact was built at this site in Reston at the request of Reston residents. It was, and I believe still is, something we see as part of who we are in Reston. It is part of our community. It is operated by CORNERSTONES, a world class charity headquartered right here in Reston. The shelter is staffed in large part by volunteers, many of whom are…..you guessed it-Restonians. And those in need of assistance served at Embry Rucker are our neighbors, welcome in our community as long as necessary,

      • Mike M

        And if we request now that it go away?

        • Part of Reston

          It certainly isn’t omnipresent when we’re there–not infrequently.

          • Tired of it in reston

            Maybe it is time for a new vote or relocation – I doubt the request for this place would be renewed. Key words…”when we’re there”. The shelter and vagrancy is there all of the time – I doubt ‘Part of Reston’ is there continuously, or there at 4am. I also doubt this is serving our Reston neighbors, rather than ‘importing problems’ into our community. The volunteer effort is noble, but after their obligatory “feel good/guilty about our wealth” time slot is expired, and they scurry back to their plush homes, it remains. Please ask the condo owners adjacent to the facility about trash,people sleeping in their cars, their walkways,etc Ask the library staff/patrons about the bathrooms and the panhandlers

          • Mike M

            You are in denial.

    • Mike M

      Sssshhh! You will hurt the feelings of the do-gooders with your objective observations of gritty realities. They’ll rush in here any minute.

    • Jenny Gibbers

      I think Embry is doing a good job and thanks to those who take care of those poor souls – many of them vets and also, victims of the war on drugs (“thank you for your service”).

      It would be a shame to see these unfortunate camping in the woods or hunkering down in a gazebo near the tennis courts, or worse, become a burden to the criminal justice system.

      So go ahead, put that in your pipe. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8e092dc5d6940126116d8cbbb66d366a67c33c3d0aceaaa03c758bfafc2d6a16.jpg

      • Tired of it in reston

        I only have issue with the location of the shelter, not the underlying mission. It could not be located in a worse area – bordered by a day care center, a library which is frequented by school age children, an elder care facility, and adjacent to a condo development. Do you think realtors call out this fact when selling those units?

        • Jenny Gibbers

          At one time I lived next to it but sold my unit; did OK. Never had any issues. You think like a self fulfilling prophecy.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Hudgins giving away public space to developers
    What a surprise !

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