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Community Input Process for Hook Road Project Begins with Calls for Fiscal Responsibility

by Dave Emke — September 1, 2017 at 2:45 pm 16 Comments

During a community meeting earlier this week (video) on a future Hook Road Recreation Area capital project, residents provided their thoughts on what should — and should not — be done at the park.

Hook Road Recreation Area was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee as the pilot project for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated in 2016. The idea is to take a facility that has pieces of replacement work in the plans in the capital reserve study and, instead, consider comprehensive work to upgrade the facility all at once.

Tuesday’s meeting was a kickoff to the project, sharing information with the community and beginning the process of gathering input. In between tense moments at the meeting, many residents of the community said they appreciated the effort Reston Association is undertaking to engage the community from the very start of the process.

“We all know, living in Reston, things change,” said John Pinkman, of Rescue Reston. “Things have to improve if we want to keep our property values as high as they are, [so] I really encourage this process.”

Dan Pennington, president of the Orchard Green Cluster Association, asked for clarification on what has been identified by Reston Association staff as “aging components” of the park that require attention. Garrett Skinner, RA’s capital projects director, said everything at the park falls into that category.

“Nothing has been replaced — in terms of the tennis court, the ballfields, the multipurpose court — since 1975,” Skinner said. “Many of these features are all kind of due for rehab around the same time, and this will be a good opportunity to look at everything as one facility instead of the previous methodology for us, [which was] just to fix little things as they’re needed.”

Concerns about parking and restroom facilities at the park are among those that have been brought up in one way or another regarding the project. Upgrades to facilities including the baseball field have also been mentioned by community members.

At Tuesday’s meeting, 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. A representative of PRAC also shared information, as did Skinner.

The question was raised of whether the fact that $50,000 has already been allocated from the Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund to develop plans for Hook Road means a “very large” project is being envisioned.

“What you saw tonight from Dewberry, all of that work, that’s where we allocated that $50,000 — all the data gathering, all the community input, all the research they’re doing,” said Sherri Hebert, president of RA’s Board of Directors. “There is no design [yet]. It could be anything from a small little thing to whatever the community wants. There’s nothing out there yet.”

Saying the current RA board is “very conservative” when funds are concerned, Hebert said a large-scale project is not anticipated.

“What will be different this year is an iterative process between the Working Group … and the Board,” Hebert said. “It’s not going to come back with this big project. … Nothing will be a surprise with the community.”

The Hook Road Working Group will be tasked with making a proposal to the RA Board on the project’s scope early next year. Applications for the group are currently being accepted, and interviews will take place in October.

Hook Road Recreation Area has about $122,000 in as-is maintenance expenditures scheduled through 2020, RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said previously. Skinner said full replacement of every aspect of the park would cost around $620,000. Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer of the RA Board, said no budget is currently set aside for the proposed capital project.

In the wake of recent controversies including the Tetra/Lake House purchase, residents such as Laurie Dodd said they are thankful RA is taking a more serious approach about incorporating the community in discussions such as this.

“I would rather spend $50,000 on getting community input and participation in the plan than run the risk of bad decision-making,” she said. “Democracy and public participation cost money, so I think we need to let the light shine on RA processes.”

Many residents who spoke said that while the park has a lot of strong qualities as it sits, they are not averse to thinking about ways it can be improved.

“[The park] works really well, and there’s an adage of ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,'” said Jay McCracken, of South Shore Drive. “But we have to be open to change as well.”

Not everyone is convinced, though.

“It’s a beautiful green space, and RA maintains it very well,” said Tom Brady, of the Waterford Square Condominiums on Fairway Drive. “[Now RA is] spending $50,000 to plan for something that really doesn’t need to be done, especially because Reston Association ratepayers are feeling more and more squeezed.”

Anna Lowit, of Hook Road, said the park is a treasure of the community and that is extremely well-used, but there are maintenance needs and upgrades that can be made. However, she said any changes that are made should be a focus on needs, not on wants.

“[We must] make fiscally responsible decisions — not that we’re sitting on money that we can spend, and we can spend it so let’s just buy something,” she said. “Upgrading and maintaining the things that we have is the best way to spend our money.”

Future community work sessions and roundtable events on the project have been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4, 10 and 24. Members who would like to receive updates about the process can join the mailing list by emailing [email protected].

Aerial photo of park courtesy Dewberry

  • Wings!

    Allow me to state the obvious:

    The Hook Road tennis courts are never used.

    Hooters restaurants are always used.

    Reston should replace the Hook Road tennis courts with a Hooters.

    • Didlo Shop

      Dont forget to turn the lights off.

  • Hah

    many residents of the community said they appreciated the effort Reston
    Association is undertaking to engage the community from the very start
    of the process.

    That way, when they ignore us and do something stupid and expensive, they can say “well we consulted you first, what more do you want?”

    “Nothing has been replaced — in terms of the tennis court, the ballfields, the multipurpose court — since 1975,”

    Inasmuch as the purposes and layout of tennis courts, softball fields, and basketball courts have not changed since 1975, it is hard to see why any replacement is necessary. Simple upkeep is sufficient.

    Saying the current RA board is “very conservative” when funds are concerned

    Disregarding our multi-million dollar Tetra fiasco, of course…

    • Donald

      This is the new board with all the new change agents. They’ll make it work. Right???

      Donald

  • CaptainObvious

    The new Board seems to be moving in the right direction, e.g., some overdue budget tightening. If you’re concerned about Hook Road park, get involved now!

  • Bernie Supporter

    At the meeting we learned that the director of the Reston/Herndon Little League was already a member of the Working Group, that you and I are invited to join in October. We can count on his input — since March — to be completely objective. Surely, he will not be predisposed to turn Hook Road Park into something more akin to an athletic field with dugouts and fences. The RA Board continues to pee on our legs while telling us its only rain.

    • Donald

      The Director of the Reston Little League is one of the most dedicated people this community has known. The entire group is. If anything, he’s constantly involved with the betterment of Reston, 24×7. B/Arlene, you might learn something from him and folks like him.

      Donald

      • Bernie Supporter

        No one is commenting on his dedication to the community. I’m commenting on the unfair process of letting people who have a vested interest in a capital project being on the Working Group (early, when the schedule was being drawn up) that helps RA decide where MY assessment dollars are spent. I would prefer objectivity, thank you. 50% of the people who showed up for this meeting were against the project. They should have been more aggressively solicited to serve on this Working Group to provide insight/perspective from the other side.

        • Donald

          Perhaps he and his colleagues stay involved with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (and other committees) on a regular basis. Just as the tennis folks do. Just as those involved with 55 and over issues do. Just as those concerned about our open spaces do. Just as those who sit in on the Fiscal Committee meetings do. I can go on.

          This matter was discussed openly since last February. Perhaps many are far more informed than you are regarding Reston affairs because they volunteer and stay involved. They don’t get their RA events and issues updates purely from RestonNow. Sorry Dave.

          (waiting for the personal dig on this one)

          Donald

          • Bernie Supporter

            You’re waiting for a personal dig? As if your post wasn’t a passive-aggressive dig aimed at me? But, okay, let’s ignore that for now. Lets try this another way.

            I don’t fault anyone for getting on a Working Group to further their own agenda. That’s what people do. Who I fault is the Board who should be diligent in balancing their Working Group so that, ultimately, the residents of Reston get a fair and balanced report back, based on data rather than what a few highly-motivated individuals want.

          • Donald

            Have you brought your feelings to RA’s attention? If so, what did they say?

            Donald

          • Bernie Supporter

            They say what they’ve said publically: Apply to be on the Working Group. Sounds reasonable enough … until you look at the schedule already released. That’s where you see the Catch 22.

            https://www.reston.org/CapitalProjects/HookRoadRecreationArea/tabid/1037/Default.aspx

            The Working Group is scheduled to meet in early Nov. The preliminary designs are delivered by Dewberry at the end of Nov. The $50k does not include the designs. RA made that very clear. Dewberry, from their website, says, “we help our clients transform their communities and improve the quality of life.” When met with extreme vocal opposition to this project at the last public meeting, RA’s response was to bring in Drewberry to assure us that their “can be phased in. They are not in the business to tell us, “We’ve examined the project, and nothing is broken, there’s nothing to be fixed.”

            The schedule on RA is that designs will be delivered and reviewed from Nov. 30 to end of year. Are we to believe that Drewberry is working up plans for RA pro bono until we decide to pull the trigger? I think we both know that answer to that though, frankly, I do not know the numbers attached — as that important piece of information was not presented. At least I can’t find it. Perhaps you can. So I am left with a basic math problem $50k + $X = an investment that RA is either willing to walk away from or to go all in (or phased in). At the meeting — under questioning — Drewberry confessed that they expect this to cost in the neighborhood of $625k rather than the approx. $126K that was initially called proposed, as revealed by Ven Iyvers. How much is RA willing to sink into this project and still be willing to walk away.

            Keep in mind it was only LAST YEAR that RA came up with this idea of “Full Facility Enhancements” (Or FF Projects). This literally moved us away from the old basis of fix what is broken … and belies Drewberry/RA statements that if only minimal changes are needed that’s all that will be suggested. I know what RA says and I know what RA does. They are NOT the same. This WILL become a major project… and I believe our assessment dollars are better spent elsewhere. You, of course, are free to disagree.

          • Donald

            Arlene, you state:

            “I know what RA says and I know what RA does. They are NOT the same. This WILL become a major project… and I believe our assessment dollars are better spent elsewhere.”

            I’m glad you have inside knowledge and know more than the rest of us. I’ll leave it to you.

            Peace,
            Donald

          • Bernie Supporter

            Donald, Arlene Krieger posts on these boards from time to time. If you think she and I sound even remotely alike, you are an even bigger bozo than I already believe you to be. And I wouldn’t have thought that possible.

          • Donald

            I sorry, I think you are one in the same. You both love to use pejoratives in the same manner. Your arguments are almost identical, to the point of backing each other. And you both have to have the last word.

            Donald

          • Bernie Supporter

            Lord, to you half of the RA members who showed up for the Hook Road Park meeting must be Arlene Krieger. And talk about arguments that are almost identical. Not even your Arlene/Bernie distraction is original. Tammy WhatsHerFace came up with that one when Arlene Krieger ran for office and you jumped on her bandwagon because you don’t have an original thought in your brain. Even now you stick to your Trump-level truthfulness. You really are a dick.

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