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Residents with Disabilities Call for Need of Pony Barn Area Upgrades

by Dave Emke — August 8, 2017 at 2:45 pm 8 Comments

At the Reston Association Board of Directors’ budget work session Monday, members spoke (video) about the need to improve access for the disabled to the Pony Barn Pavilion.

Ken Fredgren, chairman of the Reston Accessibility Committee, told a story about trying to use his mobility scooter to get to the park with his family several years ago. The gravel lot kept him out.

“My scooter sank in the gravel, and my family had to hoist me out and carry me from the gravel, and then laboriously pull the scooter out of the gravel,” he said. “The pavilion is still up a grass slope too steep for any mobility device [and] the pavilion floor is mulch, as is the surface of the tot lot with its two swings.”

The Pony Barn Pavilion is among RAC’s list of area properties that need attention to make them more accessible to the disabled. On its website, RAC says the park needs accessible pedestrian signals, an access aisle and an accessible route from the parking lot to the picnic pavilion. It also says the grill, water fountain, picnic table and toilet facilities need to be made accessible.

“Please do create accessible parking, an accessible route or routes, and replace mulch surfaces so neighbors and guests with disabilities can use Pony Barn Park,” Fredgren said. “Accommodating our fellow residents and their guests is doable, right and just.”

Another resident, Audrey Diggs, spoke about a park she has been unable to visit even though she’s lived across the street from it for about 15 years.

“I went through one time and got stuck in the gravel,” she said. “I got more adventurous when my son came along, and I got a bigger scooter that I thought could do it … and I flipped myself. I was laying on my side.”

Diggs said she and her son have to travel to Hunters Woods Park or Hunters Woods Elementary School so he can play.

“It would be nice to be able to let him play with his buddies and be able to go down and interact and see what’s going on and use it,” she said. “I hear people singing and I hear people talking, but I can’t get down there.”

A statement from Michele “Cookie” Hymer Blitz, Hunter Mill District representative on Fairfax Area Disability Services Board, was also read. Blitz said updated to the park are much-needed and should be done in a timely fashion.

“I have always been very impressed with the Reston community’s reputation and behavior regarding progressive, healthy living,” read Blitz’s statement. “I am disappointed and quite surprised that long overdue, relatively simple changes to this area are being pushed aside.”

A pavilion replacement for Pony Barn Park 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.

Screenshot via Reston Association YouTube channel

  • Mike M

    Psst! Maybe it’s too expensive to make it accessible to those with special needs. So let’s consider getting rid of it altogether! One less dubious asset to maintain and politicize.

    • Scott

      Yup. Sell it. That’s a valuable piece of land. Bet RA could sell it for a nice sum, recoup some money to throw at the black hole that is Lake House, and avoid a 350K renovation project.
      BTW, how could you possible spend 350K to renovate a parking lot and open pavilion?

      • Mike M

        Good question. There are single family houses in Reston that could be rebuilt on their lot for that.

    • RestoniansForTrump

      Right on! those with special needs especially ADA disabled people shouldn’t be living out here in Reston, yet this liberal town board keeps throwing all kinds of ungodly sums of money to try and assist them and make things ‘accessible’. If it were me I’d also remove all the ADA parking spaces from every parking lot in Reston. I never see them being used, regular cars could be parking there.

  • Guest

    Just curious, where does the $350K figure come from?

    • John Higgins

      A couple years ago a working group (RA member-volunteers) were asked to suggest ways the facility might be re-purposed so as to make better use of the property. They concluded that re-purposing was not desirable; rather, RA should modernize and improve it. The group developed a design and RA costed it as proposed. The $350k plan was agreed to by the board and it found its way into the budget.

      • Greg

        “The new plan calls for an improved pavilion area with various amenities such as play areas, picnic tables and new barbecue grills.”

        Surely the most expensive barbecue grills and picnic tables ever.

  • RA just a HOA

    Bad news for normal people.

    More often than not these things make it into the budget without proper input from the constituency.

    To offset the loss in credibility RA engages in numerous public relation debacles, paid parking and the like.

    Time to get back to basics.

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