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Info Shared, Tempers Flared at Community Meeting for Hook Road Capital Project

by Dave Emke August 30, 2017 at 10:15 am 91 Comments

The first community meeting to discuss a future project at Hook Road Recreation Area provided members a chance to learn about the process and share information about how their voices will be heard.

It was far from run of the mill, though, as the Tuesday evening event was dotted with angry voices and flaring tempers — and even an appearance from the Fairfax County Police Department.

The meeting was the kickoff of what will be a several-month project to determine what, if anything, should be done to enhance the facilities at the park in North Reston. Design consultant Dewberry was introduced to members, and its representatives shared information about the studies that have been done so far and how community input will be used as the project continues to be studied and eventually decided upon.

Many of the more than 100 members in attendance, however, expressed their dismay with Ray Wedell — the At-Large member of the Reston Association Board of Directors who recently shared his personal thoughts on the project in a five-page statement. In the statement, Wedell said amenities such as the baseball field at the park do not need upgrades, and that consideration should be given to removing the tennis and basketball facilities altogether.

Sherri Hebert, president of the RA Board, made a point at the start of the meeting to mention that Wedell’s opinions in no way represent anything that is being considered by the Board as a whole.

“I did receive several emails, and I know the RA Board did as well … regarding a letter [from Wedell],” Hebert said. “I just want to say that was Ray’s comments and Ray’s perspective; that did not represent the Reston Board or RA.”

Presentations were provided by Elaine Killoran of RA’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and by Garrett Skinner, RA’s director of capital projects, on how the process of determining what will be done at the park will proceed. Members are being encouraged to apply to be part of the Hook Road Working Group, which will be appointed in October and will be asked to give a report to the Board in February.

In December, the Board authorized the allocation of $50,000 from the Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund for the purpose of developing design concept plans related to the Hook Road project. The Board voted at its July meeting to form the working group.

Future community work sessions and roundtable events on the project have been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4, 10 and 24.

More than once during the meeting, Wedell circumvented the line of speakers waiting to give their public comment on the project. The crowd met him with point-of-order calls and shouted him down as he attempted to shout over them. At one point, some turned their backs on him and refused to listen to his statement.

Wedell said he was within his right to take the stand and respond to comments. Hebert and Sridhar Ganesan, the Board’s treasurer, at one point told him to step away from the microphone, which he had taken from the stand and was holding in his hand.

“I apologize for that,” Hebert told members. “This is actually your meeting, so I would like to hear what you have to say.”

Wedell’s comments about the baseball fields — which include that there is “no need for fancy field backstops and constantly pure lining of sidelines” and that the proposals include “expensive and unnecessary changes to the baseball backstops” — drew the attention of Reston-Herndon Little League president Jason Walker, who said Wedell’s generalizations about field usage at the park are wildly inaccurate.

“Almost everything [Wedell] wrote about Reston-Herndon Little League with regard to equipment needs, our scheduling, the way we use the field, who uses the field — all of it is factually incorrect,” Walker said after the meeting. “I am for the upgrades, obviously, but I think [members] need a fair and accurate representation of facts from someone who has been involved with this, and I have been involved with this since 2010.”

After Walker made his public comment, he and Wedell had a verbal confrontation at the back of the room. An argument ensued in which Wedell told Walker to “shut up,” and Walker was heard calling Wedell “a disgrace.” The men give differing stories on who instigated the argument. After the brief disruption in the meeting, Walker left the room.

The Fairfax County Police Department was summoned at some point, and a pair of officers responded after the meeting had concluded. They conducted interviews at the scene, including with Wedell, but no report was filed.

When asked about the events of the evening afterward, Wedell said the portion of his letter that suggested replacing tennis and basketball facilities at Hook Road with parking — the genesis of a great amount the anger shown by members — was meant to be provocative and to increase community conversation about the plan. The ultimate goal, he said, was to increase the voice of the people who feel no upgrades should be made to the park at all.

“I’ve been pushing for community engagement like this for a very long time, and if it took what they think is a provocative piece to do so, I’m happy it happened,” he said. “When this first came up in March, I was clear — do nothing. Just standard maintenance. We don’t need any of this to happen.”

Tuesday evening’s meeting was recorded by RA staff and will be made available on the Association’s YouTube channel. Members who would like to receive email updates about the project can join the mailing list by emailing [email protected].

All documents from this meeting and all future meetings on the project will be made available on the Hook Road page on Reston Association’s website.

  • Donald

    Pardon my language, holy sh$t.

    The board needs to take control of itself.

    Donald

    • Mike M

      I just called the police on you.
      Oh! AND I am turning my back!
      So, there!
      HHNHH. 😉

  • Greg

    “They conducted interviews at the scene, but no report was filed.” The cops HAVE to file a report on their call for service.

    • Reston Now

      Upon our inquiry, an FCPD spokesperson said: “I see that we came out there last night; there wasn’t a report written on it, though. It was very basic. If there’s no criminal matter, we don’t write anything.”

      • Greg

        Thank you for inquiring; however, the spokesperson is wrong. FCPD GO 501 applies as do state police orders. In any case, all FCPD dispatches (and there were two responding officers in two vehicles I assume) have to be reported even if the report is “nothing to see or do here.” Clearly that was not the case as Mr. Wedell and others were apparently interviewed.

    • The Constitutionalist

      In FC this would probably be recorded as a N/A or no action, which doesn’t require a report.

      • Greg

        If they interviewed witnesses, they have to report whom they interviewed and the results of that interview.

        • The Constitutionalist

          This is actually just a misconception. Because no crime was committed and because no action was taken, no formal report was filed. What will go on the record is that they responded to a call and that no action was taken and no report was filed. Completely within FCPD guidelines. They may have interviewed as many people as they wanted, if the officers on scene decided that there was no crime connected to the call, which they clearly did decide, they don’t have to file a report. At least not the way you are thinking.

          Was there a report by definition? – Yes. Were the details recorded? – No. Do they need to record the details? – No.

          • Greg

            Cursing is a crime in VA: § 18.2-388.

          • The Constitutionalist

            Correct, but only in public. How libertarian of our lawmakers.

          • Mike M

            They ought to charge the dope who made the call. Obviously that disease of the mind that there are endless public resources to slather on anything that bugs you was alive and well at this meeting.

  • 30yearsinreston

    The problem is that RA have too many ‘Directors’ who employ ‘consultants’ because they can’t do their jobs

    • The Constitutionalist

      Without consultants, who will directors direct?

    • Anonymous Hater

      The RA certainly has one “Director” too many. His name is Ray.

      • Mike M

        No room for dissent? Joe Stalin would have been impressed.

        • Anonymous Hater

          No room for ridiculous ideas expressed in an aggressively belligerent manner.

          • Mike M

            What makes an idea ridiculous?
            How do you feel about AntiFas?

          • Anonymous Hater

            At this point, “someone on the RA Board says it” is all the information I need to know the idea is ridiculous.

          • The Constitutionalist

            Learning has occurred.

        • Arlene Krieger

          It’s how the CEO want’s it. No dissent at all.

          • Donald

            Well, it’s the board that is controlling what’s going on at this point. I believe it was Hebert that apologized for Wedell’s actions.

            Donald

      • The Constitutionalist

        The RA has many directors too many. Pick a name, add it to the list – it’s an easy game.

        • Donald

          RA has many directors doing little or nothing at all.

          Donald

          • The Constitutionalist

            Add them to the list. Only half points, but half points are better than no points.

      • Conservative Senior

        Don’t single out one person. The entire board is self serving & doesn’t care what you think or want. The CEO needs to go, she lies & misrepresents issues to the membership. Stop the insanity.

        • Arlene Krieger

          I fully support you Mr. Conservative Senior. By the way before we do one other thing, I’d like to see what has been done and implemented regarding the $50K report regarding the disaster known as the purchase of Lake House.

          • John Farrell

            If you’re referring to the $45k StoneTurn Study, it’s my understanding that most of the recommendations have been implemented or are about to be implemented.

  • Ray Wedell

    Anyone who doubts my authenticity, or somehow holds this crazy misconception that I want parking lots built—-quite the contrary( in March the need to add parking was among items proposed that I spike out against)…all I ask is to be fair about it. Click on the link above,”first came up in March.” Watch Dave’s thorough report on that meeting. Go to the video archives and watch the March meeting. You will see the truth: I have been, and remain, the only RA Board member to fight for the obvious:”Leave the park as it is. General and regular maintenance are all that is required. Do not spend all sorts of money on consulting studies and future ‘enhancements.’ There are so many other important things for RA to focus on that require time and money. For example, We cannot figure out how to provide core services to members on basic amenities like pools, yet we have no trouble raiding funds for things like this? Please, enough is enough.” Yes, quote me on that. It is all in the public record.

    Pardon me for expressing passion on this issue. In the end, it resulted in approximately 125 people showing up when in March, at a crucial juncture to keep this from becoming another major boondoggle, only a small handful of affected members showed up. I love the community engagement. I welcome debate and disagreement. But if people are going to yell,scream and write viscous inaccuracies behind anonymous screen names, while accusing volunteer people of being wrong, at least understand what that person’s position really is.

    I will consider this my final word. Good bye to Hook Road. But at least now you have something on the table, in broad daylight, BEFORE commitments are made and before any money is spent. I wish you luck in coming to a solution which preserves this valuable asset without spending wagon loads of member money, especially considering these are contributions from all four districts for this project.

    And one important last item: when you look at total costs, remember to get a full accounting for “soft costs”. An honest look at this will surprise you. Total costs will not be $122,000.

    Okay, time for the anonymous haters to leap in. I am outahere on Hook Road. Thanks, Dave, for your excellent reporting. Muuuuwahhh!!! To all.

    • Donald

      Ray,

      The intent was to have the community participate in directing the ultimate outcomes. It’s apparent Hook Road had the opportunity to be enhanced, repaired, and updated. Reserves at the ready.

      The whole intent of this effort was to involve those in the community most affected, as well as those who utilize the asset.

      But no, you decided to intervene even before the community process had an opportunity to get off the ground. Now you have dug a whole with the community looking down at you as you try to get out.

      You and your board need to get a grip. The community is watching and is slowly losing its patience. I suspect RA staff members feel the same about all this as well (unfortunately they dare not speak).

      Donald

    • Anonymous Hater

      I sincerely hope you are “outahere on Hook Road”. The best thing you can do is GO AWAY. Your behavior has been absolutely appalling and your ideas ridiculous. For some absurd reason you think it is your job to “express passion” in abusing members of the community. If that’s how you treat your customers, I’m surprised you have any business at all.

    • Alas

      I have been, and remain, the only RA Board member to fight for the
      obvious:”Leave the park as it is. General and regular maintenance are
      all that is required. Do not spend all sorts of money on consulting
      studies and future ‘enhancements.’

      That is not what your recent letter said. And that is not what you said at the meeting. If you had just stuck with that message and used a non-confrontational tone, lots of people would be on your side. You’d have anonymous fans instead of anonymous haters!

  • Mike M

    In my view the Board relies too much upon geographically focused interest meetings with broad citizen involvement. What do they think is their job? Citizens cannot do it for them. This public meeting approach will naturally draw mostly those who want to get RA to invest more on their “backyard” at everyone else’s expense. So, the baseball clique wants gold-plated baseball fields. Huge surprise. This approach will lead to endless growth in expenditure and debt and dues. Got moderation? We need an RA board that can put ALL requirements in perspective with respect to each other and with respect to what is sustainable in the long run for all Reston. You may not like Wedell’s tone or approach, but we might just need a few more responsible adult leaders on this adolescent board.

    PS: HHNHH? Ha!

    • Arlene Krieger

      I completely agree with you. Have you ever considered that this RA Association is not a really good way to govern? At the end of the meeting last night this Garrett sp? guy said in a low voice that the entire Red Hook project would end up costing over $625K and this is just the first project, one of many to come. No wonder why Ray is outraged? Only 5 of the 9 Board Members even bothered to show up last night. I believe that this government will fail. Please pay close attention to the budget.

      • Donald

        The five of nine demonstrate a new majority.

      • Greg

        Where are the budgets on the RA website? Last time I looked, I received not found errors when clicking. I sent an email to the RA asking for them and never received a response.

        What are they hiding?

      • Mike M

        This is what failure looks like. A set of unqualified people have tax and spend authority and they simply cannot control themselves or manage the big picture. They have mindsets and processes that aim to do all things for all people. Outrage should build.

  • guest

    So the board authorized $50,000 for a study on what should be built on Hook Road? This amount would have gone a long way in refurbishing the existing facilities. There seems to be no way to stop this irresponsible spending. One of the new budget items is a request for trash cans which cost $900 apiece.

    • Mike M

      As the Talking Heads would say, “You got it, . . . . you got it!”

    • Greg

      Such a bargain — $900 for a trashcan! Hush, dear reader, hush!

      • The Constitutionalist

        $900 is with the government discount.

      • Arlene Krieger

        That must be stopped ASAP

    • 30yearsinreston

      Fire the lot
      Every staffer with a title above manager should go
      No one will notice and the rest of the staff might have rime to do their job instead of endlessly reporting to consultants

    • Arlene Krieger

      This is going to be one more crazy project like the Lake House. $50K was only for the study. The actual project will cost much, much more. More than RA and we dues paying members can afford. Please pay attention to this one so we don’t get sucked in again. Ray got excited because this is really a big deal and the Board seems determined to spend our money on stuff that we don’t want or need.

      • John Farrell

        Seriously?! You’d compare $5,000,000 that Lake House will cost us to 1/100th of that number to get the necessary information to make an informed decision on the repair of Hook Road?

        Have you priced the cost of a topographic survey lately?

        Better to make decisions without essential information, right?

        You wouldn’t be running for RA Board again would you?

        Demagogue much?

        • Donald

          Mr. Farrell,

          You and I may not always agree on matters, but here, I must say — you are spot on.

          This Hook Road process is the way it should work. As you say, get the necessary information, get the community informed early in the process, get them to take interest, participate.

          And what doesn’t work, take note and make adjustments for the next capital project.

          Ms. Kriieger is truly just rabble-rousing.

          Donald

          • Mike M

            Sorry, but I think the current process is about this:
            “We are gonna spend a lot of money on this project. So, what do we do?

            It should be this:
            “Do we need to spend a lot of money on this? Should we?”

            Wedell is in part II. Apparently that’s not allowed in this “process.”

          • Donald

            Mike M, I respectfully disagree. While prior endeavors were fiascos, I believe this is a step in the right direction. As a member of RA, I demand our assets be maintained, updated and replaced as needed.

            The reserve study, which I also demand be updated on a regular basis, identifies those assets that need to be reviewed for maintenance, and ultimately replacement.

            The RA volunteers on the Parks and Recreation Committee identify which assets are working well, those that need to be updated, changed, etc. — to serve the needs of a changing and aging RA community.

            The process brings this all together. The community has been brought in early for Hook Road to be properly informed as well as to make sure their opinions and ideas are heard and documented.

            This is the way a sophisticated community like RA is supposed to operate.

            Those like Wedell, that take it upon themselves, to state they know what is best — is an insult to the membership. I blame Wedell, as well as his colleagues on the board, for not demonstrating good leadership — a item severely lacking at the moment.

            Donald

          • Bernie Supporter

            Donald, you’re so full of yourself that you miss your own point. “I demand our assets be maintained, updated and replaced AS NEEDED.”
            That was one of Ray’s key points. That facilities are examined on a “rotational basis” not on “as needed” basis. Spending $50k to update something that doesn’t need updating simply because its “turn has come up” is a shameful waste our assessment dollars.

          • Donald

            Arlene/Bernie… it’s pointless. It’s like having a discussion with my Rotweiller.

            Donald

          • Bernie Supporter

            I don’t know which is more embarrassing for you: That you have these discussions with your Rotweiller …Or that you even lose your arguments to your dog. Way to sidestep the issue, though. I used your own words “AS NEEDED” to support Ray’s common sense position regarding Hook Road. Right now, capital projects are reviewed and handled on a rotational basis, not need based. Have your Rotweiller explain the difference to you.

          • John Higgins

            A polite correction, if I may. Someone introduced the myth of a “rotational basis” for capital asset projects. That leads to the erroneous conclusion that needs are not in the equation. (I know who that someone is, but it serves no purpose to name him.)

            Capital projects come onto RA’s radar based on an engineer’s view of when assets are likely to be in need of replacement. (That’s the reserve study every five years.) RA does not simply put them on the budget on that basis. At each budget cycle, staff does their own evaluation of the need for replacement. If you look at the budget for 2016-2017 (sadly it seems to have dropped from RA’s website) you will see that a number of projects were deferred – because there was no current need to do the expected work.

            As I understand Ray’s position, the Hook Road facility needs nothing now. He could well be right. He could well be wrong. Right or wrong, the previous board agreed by a large majority to look at Hook Road, with input from members, to reach that decision. No one should fault him for trying to persuade the current board from reversing course. But there is a right and wrong way to go about that.

          • Donald

            Could not have said it better.

            Donald

          • Donald
          • Bernie Supporter

            I agree that there is a right and wrong way to go about it. Yet I question why RA Director Sridhar Ganeson — who was appointed to the board and not voted in — commandeered the podium numerous times “out of turn.” Ray interrupted once at the beginning of the meeting when he was specifically maligned, and once at the end of the meeting when the director of the Reston/Herndon Little League spoke out against him. In fairness, if you’re called out, you should have the right to respond.

            The person who should have gotten that board seat — Ven Ivyers — pointed out the obvious. How do you spend $50k to examine “the need” to spend your budget of $126K. It was only after he raised this issue that RA and this design firm fessed up that they were expecting to spend in the $625k range. And even that wasn’t enough. Because the design firm went on to say how they could phase more things in later. I admit when I am wrong. I thought RA spent 50K just to get designs for the new and improved Hook Road park. Turns out they didn’t even get that. They got “data” that would allow the design firm to first create new designs.

            Lastly, also in fairness, WTF is the director of Little League doing already on the Working Group? He has a vested interest in a specific non-data driven outcome. Yet he is already working to shape up this new developer boondoggle. You or I could not get onto that Working Group until October … and it has to make its recommendations just a few a few months later. This is the wrong way to do things. and will result in the RA Board writing out another blank check to satisfy a few specific interest groups over the rest of us.

          • Greg

            As before, your “demand” neglects two necessary and important options: do nothing and remove or eliminate assets.

            Tennis is one highly subsidized thing that the RA should much more carefully look at. Outdoor pools are another.

            In several of the expensive consultant studies RA insists we always need (but never follow), asset closure was recommended. Community input was solicited, and the RA did exactly opposite that which both the studies and community wanted: kept obsolete and underused assets open at great expense.

            Building an RA HQ is another example. Now the RA is stuck with a wildly oversized office, in a terrible location, that does nothing to benefit the vast majority of the members.

            Meanwhile, the old RA HQ building, which we were told was in imminent danger of being razed, still stands many years later.

            Legal expenses are a third. RA spends nearly $1,000,000 annually on legal expenses. That’s outrageous.

          • Mike M

            I understood that Wedell also demands that “our assets be maintained, updated and replaced as needed.” I think he and I also would want to ask do we still need them anymore. Is he not entitled to his view?

          • Arlene Krieger

            We need to create a movement against it. We need lots of RA members to join with us in stopping this. We need someone like you to start the movement.

          • Arlene Krieger

            Please pay attention and at least spell my name correctly. KRIEGER. Yes I represent the best of American History as a rabble-rousing American like the founding fathers, MLK, those who fought for Women’s right to vote, etc. We all caused a great deal of trouble but things changed for the better.

          • Donald

            Yes, but they were not demagogues.

          • John Higgins

            If comic relief was the objective, score one for Ms. Krieger. Paying attention and spelling are important. As a side note, revitalization of Red Hook was unquestionably necessary, the hurricane was devastating. Now, HOOK ROAD is another matter. (It is Garrett [two t’s] Skinner.

        • Bernie Supporter

          Learn to read, bozo. The comparison that was made wasn’t about 5 million vs. 50 thousand. It was about another unnecessary project from RA. That WAS the essential information. Not the cost of things we don’t need. Seriously, you seem to know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

          • Donald

            Her we go again. Bernie and Arlene. One in the same.

            Donald

          • Bernie Supporter

            And another genius is heard from.

          • Donald

            Thank you, I appreciate, but don’t deserve, the compliment.

            Donald

        • Arlene Krieger

          I’m happy for you. Really, pending $50 on a survey is chump Change? At the end of the meeting on Red Hook garret?sp announced that the project will cost $625K. I’m saying that RA members should have had a say in this before the $50 was spent.. How does that make me a demagogue? I personally don’t know why Red Hook even needs to be developed and I am eager to find this out. I am a social justice activist and believe in peaceful and non violent action to get my point of view heard.

          • Conservative Senior

            RA just doesn’t get it. They didn’t need to spend $50,000 for Dewberry’s input. Ask the membership for their input first. Do we need more wasteful spending? Or are they trying to justify Garrett’s job! I thought all projects were on hold. Stop the insane spending of money & reduce our dues. If their are pet projects, start a “go fund me” & let those who will use the enhancements pay for them. Lock the tennis courts so that only RA members who have paid their dues have a key!

          • Greg

            Yes, you are right. And, it appears Mr. Wedell resigned. Eager to hear the (back) story there.

          • Conservative Senior

            RA thinks they are running a country club & forget that they are just an HOA. They only want those who agree with them. Ray was not always pc but had good intentions.

      • Greg

        And don’t forget the tens of thousands of dollars spent on the reserve study and annual updates.

    • John Farrell

      Was this consultants contract competitively bid or sole sourced?

      Dewberry is widely known as a highly qualified engineering firm but also as an expensive firm.

      There are at least a dozen other firms that are as qualified but maybe not as costly.

      • John Higgins

        A good question. This is the grist from which transparency is made.

        If RA is reading: how about making it a practice to place on your website all Requests for Proposal; once awarded, put the contract there also.

        • Donald

          Good suggestion.

        • John Higgins

          And a tip of the hat to Donald for the link (below) to RA’s publication of RFPs. I was not aware of that page. Kudos, RA. You are on the road to transparency.

      • Conservative Senior

        https://www.reston.org/Portals/3/2017%20Development/2017-03-02%20RFP%20Hook%20Road%20Conceptual%20Design.pdf
        Sounds like a huge project that we don’t need. Another lake house fiasco.

  • Fred

    Seems weird that the cops were called

    • Mike M

      Yes. Perhaps someone thought an entitlement was being denied. Reston ya know.

      Or maybe they hoped that they could bring someone up on charges for disagreeing with (‘hating on”) them.

    • John Higgins

      It was weird. And inappropriate. Tempers and voices rose. There were no “rules of order” in this informally structured meeting, yet voices shouted out that Ray was “out of order”. I suppose one can debate whether or not, under these circumstances, the chair could eject an elected director, setting up a trespass if he refused to leave…but that didn’t happen. Someone in the audience took it upon himself to silence Ray with the threat of calling the police. Ray stepped aside, and yet the call was made. That’s nonsense. If this topic is of continuing interest, I suggest watching the video before taking sides.

      • Donald

        As heated as these meetings (including board meetings) are getting. I believe it wise to have police presence. Perhaps the county could provide one reservist, or even one off-duty person.

        Donald

      • Fred

        Just did, still no need to call the cops.

    • Fred

      After watching the video, there was no need to call the cops at all.

  • Laura Stassi

    Does Ray Wedell have any connections to Boston Properties? Sure seems like it. Impeach!

  • Guest15

    When will the video be made available on the Reston Association YouTube channel?

  • Reeeee!

    Some say the “REEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeee-ing” could be heard as far as South Lakes HS.

  • Rational Reston

    In the past I’ve said in jest that Mr. Weddell has bared a passing resemblance to Morton Downey Jr.

    However, there’s no reason to recreate his TV show.

  • TheKingJAK

    I’m glad to see citizens fired up. At least Restonians have a solid history of not being lethargic when it comes to standing up for our founding principles.

  • Donald

    Just reviewed the video. Wedell was rude and disruptive. Hebert and Ganesan lost control. Sad. This board needs to demonstrate leadership sooner than later.

    Donald

  • Is Ray Wedell a property owner in the RA? I see on the internet that he has been renting in the Town Center which is not part of the RA?

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