Reston Association Leaders to Initiate Talks with Boston Properties About Town Center Parking

After hearing concerns from the community, including more than 9,000 signatures on a petition about the issue, leaders of Reston Association will attempt to engage Boston Properties in conversation about paid parking at Reston Town Center.

RA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously at their Thursday meeting (video) to authorize CEO Cate Fulkerson, Board President Sherri Hebert and Board Vice President David Bobzien to pursue the talks. Hebert and Bobzien said it is important for RA members to know the Board is actively working toward a solution.

“This is the first step, [and] we think it’s an important step,” said Bobzien, who participated in the meeting by phone. “I think it’s very important that we engage with [Boston Properties].”

Suzanne Zurn, the organizer of the petition and the founder of the Keep Parking Free at RTC movement, addressed the Board during the meeting and encouraged them to take action.

“Your neighbors, your constituents, responded in large numbers to the petition opposing paid parking at RTC,” she said. “I encourage you to read their comments and consider how RA could add weight to their voices in this important community issue.”

Paid parking went into effect Jan. 3 at Reston Town Center, requiring $2-per-hour payment in garages all day Monday through Friday, and $3-per-hour payment for street parking Monday through Saturday. On June 5, parking became free in garages between 5 p.m. and 3:30 a.m., and one hour of free parking is also offered during the day.

Many merchants at RTC validate garage parking for customers, but which of the five garages is validated varies by business. Parking at the Town Center while paid parking is in effect requires the use of the ParkRTC app, though the Town Center announced earlier this week that parking sessions can be started without the app using newly updated kiosks. Parking in the Orange Garage at the Town Center is free for Jackson’s customers, without use of the app or any other method, thanks to an injunction in a lawsuit the business has against Boston Properties.

Zurn said all of the information one must know before visiting the Town Center and parking has only complicated matters and continues to keep potential customers away.

“I don’t know of any paid parking situations in our region that are this complicated,” she said to the Board. “Do you?”

Reston Town Center is not in the jurisdiction of Reston Association. However, Director Victoria White (Hunters Woods/Dogwood District) asked if the parking situation has resulted in disruption to surrounding streets. Zurn said it has, as workers constructing The Signature building at RTC have been seen parking on New Dominion Parkway, Temporary Road and North Shore Drive.

Paul Steidler, who also addressed the Board about the issue, said the Reston Town Center paid parking outrage is hurting the character and direction of the community.

“Are we going to become an area that’s an elitist, gated community with all the decadence that brings?” Steidler said. “Or are we going to go back to our core values of being inclusive of all, of having a place we can all come and go more freely and enjoy what Reston has to offer?”

Hebert said she is hopeful she and the other RA leaders can have productive conversations with Boston Properties and help them understand the community’s plight.

“We feel like we owe that to the folks that live in the Reston Association, to speak on your behalf to them,” she said.

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