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by Dave Emke — July 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm 6 Comments

Members of the Pony Barn Working Group weren’t pleased last year when Reston Association gave them a stop work order.

Now, they’re looking to get going again.

Representatives of the group will address RA’s Board Operations Committee at their meeting tonight as they seek approval from the Board of Directors of a new design plan, as well as the release of the remaining funds allocated for the Implementation & Construction phase of the project.

The Pony Barn Parks are located at the corner of Steeplechase and Triple Crown roads in the Hunters Woods section of Reston. There is a picnic area and pavilion on the north side of Triple Crown Road, with a butterfly meadow on the south side.

According to information provided by the Pony Barn Working Group:

Access to and through the park is limited by the lack of sidewalks. The pavilion and other amenities are not accessible to people with disabilities. The gravel parking lot is an impediment to people with strollers, wheelchairs and bicycles. The picnic pavilion remains much as it was almost 30 years ago with fewer amenities. Despite its many limitations it is used by RA summer camps, Girl Scout troops, students at Hunters Woods School, families and friends having get-togethers, and parents swinging their little ones. People frequently park at the Pony Barn lot so they can walk through the Glade Valley Stream Park.

A pavilion replacement was first approved by RA in 2013, at a cost of $30,000. RA later approved, as part of the 2016-17 capital projects budget, $350,000 for a full-scale renovation project. That money has been locked up since last July, however, when RA put major capital projects on hold in the wake of the controversy over the Lake House purchase.

Now that an independent review of that purchase has been completed and RA is working toward remediation, the Pony Barn group is bringing its project is back to the table.

Since the project was put on hold last summer, the Board did allow stormwater management planning work to continue. Project cost estimates were provided to the working group in January, according to information they will present to the BOC, and it was “determined the costs were too high.” Civil engineers were then “instructed to minimize the footprint to reduce grading and related costs,” according to the working group.

The revised design the working group will present reflects many of the original goals of the project, including a focus on accessibility and the addition of a butterfly meadow overlook. A handful of items have been removed, however, including:

  • a paved pathway access from Triple Crown to Steeplechase
  • the paving of the natural trails to the Glade Stream Park and around the meadow connecting to county path on Steeplechase
  • the installation of an accessible playground at another suitable park

Cost estimates of the new design are about $233,000 for construction and just over $40,000 for maintenance. Adding in the nearly $65,000 that has already been spent in planning, the total cost of the project would be about $338,000.

Graphic via Reston Association

by RestonNow.com — July 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm 11 Comments

Who doesn’t love getting together with some friends and enjoying their favorite local watering hole?

The voting for our 2017 Best Reston Business awards kicks off with the Best Bar/Happy Hour category. This poll will be open through 5 p.m. Monday, July 17. After that, the top two vote-getters will advance to final voting, which will take place in early August.

We have 11 hot spots from which to choose. Where do you like to head in the evening after a long day at the office?

Check back each weekday through July 26 for another category’s ballot.

OTHER POLLS

Open through July 25: Best Financial Business
Open through July 26: Best Fitness Business
Open through July 27: Best Real Estate Agent
Open through July 28: Best Local Shop
Open through July 31: Best Fast-Casual Restaurant
Open through Aug. 1: Best Sit-Down Restaurant

by Katherine Berko — July 10, 2017 at 1:30 pm 12 Comments

A group of people went to Wells Fargo bank on Elden Street in Herndon on Saturday with no intention of withdrawing money.

Instead, they held up signs and yelled chants, calling out the bank for its support of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The climate justice group 350 Fairfax protested July 8, which pipeline opposition group Protect & Divest had designated as an International Protect and Divest Day of Action. The day’s protests were meant to sway banks, such as Wells Fargo, from funding the Keystone XL Pipeline and other environmentally unfriendly projects such as Virginia’s Atlantic Coast pipeline.

The 1,179-mile Keystone XL Pipeline, when completed, will run from Alberta to Nebraska and will transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day. There is an existing pipeline in the region, but Keystone XL will deliver the oil in a more direct route.

It has caused controversy as some people see the pipeline as beneficial because it will create many construction jobs and bolster the nation’s economy. Additionally, if the pipeline is not built, the fear is other companies will transport the same oil but in riskier ways, such as via rail service. However, groups like 350 Fairfax fear for the environmental impact the pipeline’s construction may have.

“[350 Fairfax] handed out flyers to bank customers and passing pedestrians to explain why the Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster for the climate, dangerous for water and soil quality along its proposed route, and is unfair to indigenous peoples whose sacred land would be disrupted,” 350 Fairfax wrote in a press release.

On Facebook after the rally, 350 Fairfax said that pipeline projects can also greatly spur climate change by increasing greenhouse gases emissions.

“The project stands to endanger precious ecosystems, vital aquifers, and Indigenous and sacred lands. It would also exacerbate climate change at a time when a just transition off fossil fuels is critical for the health and well-being of life on Earth,” 350 Fairfax wrote.

The group’s hope is to stop further construction of the pipeline by encouraging its funders to re-evaluate the damage their invested money will be doing to the environment. 350 Fairfax noted that Saturday’s protest was just one of many the group plans to organize.

“We must demand that all investors, including Wells Fargo, #divest from these dangerous and unnecessary projects,” the group said.

Photos courtesy 350 Fairfax

by Brooke Giles — July 10, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

The Virginia Department of Education is considering changing the benchmarks required for graduation and school accreditation.

The board is looking at lowering the verified credit requirement for students to five credits for both standard and advanced diplomas. The credits would come from math, science, reading, writing and social studies courses.

The department has scheduled meetings to get the input of communities around the state. The first meeting was held recently in Fairfax County, the Fairfax Times reported.

Currently, students must earn nine verified credits for an advanced diploma and six credits for a standard diploma. Verified credits are earned in classes that culminate in a Virginia Standards of Learning exam, also referred to as the SOLs.

The state wants to move towards “authentic performance assessments” instead of the traditional standardized exams for social studies and writing. One critique over the past few years, from students, parents and even teachers, is that the exams don’t allow students to demonstrate all of their knowledge.

The move away from standardized testing would also change the way schools are accredited. Schools earn their accreditation based on student performance on the SOL — 75 percent of students must pass the language arts exams and 70 percent have to pass the math, science and history exams for a school to be accredited.

The system described in the proposal would create three classifications for schools. Level I schools would be those “at or above standard,” Level II schools would be those “near standard or improving,” and Level III schools would be those “below standard.” The drop-out rates, chronic absenteeism, College and Career Readiness Index, would be scored.

Schools that are below standard would have the opportunity for accreditation under the new system. Level III schools would get accreditation, but would have to improve their performance within three years before losing accreditation.

The last meeting will be in August. The board is expected to review its plan in November before finalizing it at the end of the year.

by Dave Emke — July 10, 2017 at 10:15 am 8 Comments

Reader Mel Davidson shared the above photo of a bear that was spotted over the weekend near Reston.

Davidson said the bear was seen Saturday afternoon in the Stuart Ridge community, which has a Herndon address but is located near Fairfax County Parkway in the area of Reston’s Lake Newport Road.

The Fairfax County Police Department posted on Facebook on Sunday that there have been “several reports of bear sightings in park[s] and residential neighborhoods throughout the county.” According to police:

Bears typically avoid humans, but may wander into suburban areas in their search for food. Bears can cause serious property damage and if they lose their fear of humans and pose public safety concerns, they may have to be destroyed.

If you encounter or see a bear, do not approach it. Back away slowly and ensure it has an escape route. If a bear huffs or “woofs,” clacks its teeth, growls or slaps the ground, it is warning you that you are too close.

Conflicts with bears can be avoided by removing unnatural food sources. The most common are birdfeeders, garbage, compost piles, fruit trees, berry-producing and pet food left outside.

FCPD says bear sightings should be reported to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by calling the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at 855-571-9003, or to the county’s Animal Protection Police by calling 703-691-2131.

Photo courtesy Mel Davidson

by Dave Emke — July 10, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Metro Naming Rights To Be Sold? –The Metro Board’s Customer Service, Operations and Security Committee is expected to vote this week on whether to move forward with the idea of selling naming or branding rights to stations or even entire bus routes or Metro lines. Some board members believe selling naming rights could be one of the best ways to prevent another round of fare increases next year. [WTOP]

Reston Resident on Litter Board — Nicholas J. Surace of Reston has been named to the state’s Litter Control and Recycling Fund Advisory Board. The appointment is part of the governor’s work focused on finding common ground with members of both parties on issues that will build a new Virginia economy and create more jobs across the Commonwealth. [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]

First Non-Stop Flight from India to Dulles — Met with celebratory water cannons, the sold-out plane touched down at 7 a.m. Friday at Dulles. The inaugural Air India flight from Delhi was in the air for 15 hours and 20 minutes. [Loudoun Times-Mirror]

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