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Some Reston Association Pool Hours May Be Reinstated in 2018

by Dave Emke — September 19, 2017 at 2:45 pm 31 Comments

Some pool hours that were lost in the 2017 schedule may return in 2018, after recommendations from Reston Association’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC).

During their special budget session Monday afternoon (video), the Reston Association Board of Directors voted to guide staff toward listening to PRAC’s recommendations when setting guidelines for the 2018 pool schedule.

The recommendations are to:

  • Prior to Memorial Day: reinstate Monday-Friday weekday hours at the two open pools
  • Memorial Day through end of school: ensure there is one pool in each district available by 10 a.m. on weekdays
  • Through mid-August: reinstate the “closed day” to just once a week at most pools, as opposed to twice a week
  • Mid-August through first day of school: continue to adjust operating hours at certain pools based on member feedback, and continue to reopen additional facilities for Labor Day weekend.

The suggested changes would add $2.88 to the projected assessment rate for 2018, RA staff has calculated. Restoring all of the pool hours that were cut in this year’s schedule would tack on an additional $1.60.

“The recommendation that is before you, by the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, was worked on with staff,” CEO Cate Fulkerson said, addressing a director’s question about concerns with finding seasonal workers for the pools. “Staff believes that it can achieve [these changes, but] it does not believe it can go back to the full-scale set of hours that we had in 2016.”

Members provided feedback about pool hours during listening sessions held by RA directors in May and June. In addition, member feedback on the issue was collected during a feedback session with the Board earlier this month. Fulkerson said about 25 members attended and shared their thoughts.

Director Julie Bitzer (South Lakes District) is the Board’s liaison to PRAC. She said she believes the recommended changes address the majority of comments that were received about the schedule.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted to give their backing to:

  • paying off the Lake House loan from reserves (reducing $8.66 in projected 2018 assessment rate), as well as ending afterschool and other programming there (reducing between $3.31 and $6.80 in projected 2018 assessment rate)
  • adding two seasonal workers to assist with litter pickup efforts (adding $1.93 to projected 2018 assessment rate) and purchasing 10 more trash cans at a cost of $900 each (adding 43 cents to projected 2018 assessment rate)
  • making accessibility improvements to Walker Nature Center, at a cost of $30,000 (adding $1.42 to projected 2018 assessment rate), along with $50,000 to be contributed by Friends of Reston
  • appropriating $2.9 million to the 2018 Repair, Replacement & Reserve Fund

The Board also discussed the potential of adding a post-DRB project approval inspector, whose job would be to “ensure that members have built their DRB approved projects in accordance with the plans and specifications submitted to the DRB for approval.” Adding the position would have a $2.65 impact on the projected 2018 assessment rate. The Board chose to defer making a guidance decision on that position until their Sept. 28 meeting.

Directors also discussed a member request to stop mowing medians, which would save RA about $54,860 and reduce the 2018 assessment rate by $2.60. Directors agreed that as the Virginia Department of Transportation would only do the work three times a year, as opposed to the 16-18 times a year it is done by RA, discontinuing the effort at the local level would seriously harm the appearance of the community. The Board voted not to back the recommendation.

All votes at Monday’s meeting were for guidance purposes only as the second draft of the budget is compiled. No official decisions have yet been made.

Board guidance on the second draft of the 2018 budget must be completed at their Sept. 28 meeting. Another community budget session is slated for Sunday, Oct. 15, followed by public hearings on Oct. 26 and Oct. 30. The budget is to be approved, and the assessment rate set, during the Board’s Nov. 16 meeting.

  • Amy Sue

    Wait a minute. If this would ADD $2.88 to the yearly assessment, why didn’t the reduction of hours in 2017 REDUCE the yearly assessment by a similar amount?

    • Greg

      Because. Tetra. And Fulkerson’s quarter-million dollar pay.

      • Amy Sue

        I feel so powerless in dealing with the Reston Association. I’m planning on moving but they’ll still get my assessment no matter what because the purchaser of my property will have to pay it. The condition of the pools has deteriorated significantly yet they still charge more and more each year for Association dues. Think people, we have to figure out a way to fight back that will really hold these people accountable.

        • Amy, I hear you, and we are working to change that. Next year, you will see a lower assessment and longer pool hours. We will also embark on a strategic review of all of our pools to get them in better shape. We’ve made a lot of progress this year, but we know there’s more work to be done. Bear with us!

          • Greg

            And when are you planning on firing Cate Fulkerson and her basket of incompetents?

          • Donald

            Firing people is not a solution in and by itself. While Ms. Fulkerson may be subject to reviews, reprimands, probationary actions or even termination, it will not fix what ails our Community.

            We have bigger, deeper, long-term ailments that we MUST face. If this board elects to punt, so be it, but that will be a real shame. But, I believe they have the ingredients to think innovatively and get us on a new course.

            Donald

          • Donald

            Eric,

            I will likely be banned by my fellow concerned Restonians here for what I’m about to share but hear me out.

            If you look at the history of Reston’s Assessments, they have been significantly lower than similar, and neighboring HOAs, throughout the region. Over the years only one or two major adjustments have been made to the budget, and resulting assessments, to rectify longer term shortfalls, etc.

            I argue we are not paying enough if we want to maintain the types of services and amenities that make this very large (and aging) Community – called Reston – unique. And more importantly protect our home values.

            For example, if you look at Cascades or Ashburn, the HOA (and sub association) fees range from $1100/year to well over $4000/year. And these communities do not offer half of what Reston offers.

            I also argue, we need to do a much better job of getting appropriate value for every assessment dollar we pay – a much, much better job.

            I understand why everyone is angry about their Reston fees. But, I also understand draconian cuts, putting off investments and kicking this to the next board will not work any longer.

            The Community needs to recognize if they want to live in a beautiful, safe, clean, maintained, and updated community with all the services we come to expect they will have to pay enough to make it work – WELL.

            I truly believe if you take a long-term view of five, ten, twenty years, with the Community participating, we may be able to get the assessments in line with expectations. But cutting for the sake of cutting is easy — but I think it is cowardice too and not leadership — sorry, but that’s how I feel.

            I also believe the Board should be looking hard at alternative sources of revenue – grants, corporate partnerships and sponsorships, proffers, taking back our Special Tax District dollars etc.

            If we continue to cut and cut, without looking at critical needs, we will eventually hit vital muscle — at that point, events will cascade out of hand. Then you will see a mass exodus of homeowners as Reston falters and eventually fails.

            And nobody should pass that burden onto future volunteer board members.

            Donald

          • Donald, we are of the same mind. I’d say that about 75% of the folks I’ve spoken with about our assessments are *not* really mad about the number but rather what we are doing with the money. My approach (and the approach of many other board members) is to get our financial house in order and demonstrate good governance to the membership. Once we have done that, then we can make the case for improvements and for paying for those improvements.

            We are also looking at alternative revenue sources, including grants and proffers. We’re trying to get creative on that front too.

            In advance of the 2019 reserve study, we are going to take a strategic look at our facilities (we’ll start with pools in January) so that our reserve study is more useful and that it really reflects what Reston will look like in the future.

            And finally, I agree about the look and feel of Reston – keeping the place looking good costs money. Our 2018 budget includes extra mowing, litter removal, and such. I think that is money worth spending.

          • Donald

            Its a good start Eric, but I believe you are still thinking of the past. Don’t drive the budget by looking through the rearview mirror. Some good examples of companies that tried that approach:

            Sears
            Barns & Noble
            Staples
            Radio Shack
            hhgregg
            KMart
            Gamestop
            American Apparel
            CVS
            to name a few

            You need to see what Reston needs to be in five, ten, twenty years. What’s the road look like, how do we get there? What are the actions? What would the assessments need to be? $1000, $1500, $2000…? Augmented by what?

            Donald

          • I’m with you. We have to clean up our mess first, and then we can do that with a good sense of what we have to offer and what we need to do.

          • Donald

            Eric, please take this the right way. But, that’s the wrong attitude.

            You do not have a mess to cleanup.

            What you have is an opportunity!

            You need to focus on what’s working, and yes what’s not. Identify solutions for issues. For each solution, identify three to five alternatives to make it happen. Look long-term, that’s what the Board is supposed to do, not manage day-to-day.

            Just some polite advice. You are so focused on the past it’s distracting you to the point of moving backwards to meet it.

            As Mr. Higgins states — get on the visionary train. Five, Ten and Twenty years will come at us fast. Stop fixing the proverbial leaks in the dam yourself, and address the bigger needs of the future.

            Donald

          • Donald

            And Eric, let me add — thank you for your time volunteering on the board (and to everyone past and present that have chosen to do the same). It’s a tough, unforgiving position.

            Donald

          • Amy Sue

            One good start would be to send out more comprehensive budget documents with the Annual Assessment bills. Just a couple more pages detailing what is included in each of the general expenses categories would be a big help. Break down that big joke of a pie chart that has categories such as Administrative expenses, recreation, etc. Give more information on what is included in these categories. Scrap the glossy Reston Association magazine to pay for a few more pages in the Annual Assessment mailings. Have a Referendum to see how many Restonians actually WANT a glossy magazine. In fact, have a general referendum on several spending categories so the Reston Association wants to spend money on what the majority of Restonians really want.

          • Donald

            Now we’re starting a good conversation.

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            Congrats on engaging here. This can be a tough crowd, but I sense you can keep this constructive and perhaps start an era of engagement.

            What Donald is suggesting (and is implied in your response) is a much needed “where do we want to be, and how do we get there?” RA would do well to de-couple its capital improvement plan from the reserve study. That’s essentially a financial tool to enable the status quo. In my view, tackling facilities in groups(first pools, then perhaps, tennis, then playgrounds, paths, pavilions, etc.) makes sense, after across-the-board visioning has been done. This might be a good time to dust off the past studies of recreational needs and desires, see how they fit with today’s (and tomorrow’s) demographics, and develop a vision of what Reston will look like in 2037. Strategy first, vision second won’t cut it.

          • Amy Sue

            I don’t mind paying for things. I mind that spending that doesn’t make sense. Cue Tetra and excessive RA Admin expenses.

          • TheKingJAK

            Nobody is going to afford nor should they be expected to pay double their current assessment. It’s all about value, and we easily have the capability to get more from what we currently pay. Aside from the issues already mentioned, if RA didn’t spend so much money on employees romping around looking for the most ludicrous manner in which to harass and fine members, then not only would they save even more money, but they’d also maintain far better customer appreciation. During the past couple years I’ve had numerous longtime neighbors being scolded and threatened by these RA enforcement clowns for no good reason. Meanwhile, RA isn’t managing its own property. RA needs to get its own house squared away before it begins to assess the state of what the customers need to accomplish.

          • Donald

            Yup. That’ll fix it.

            Donald

    • The Constitutionalist

      RA: *evil laughter*

  • Conservative Senior

    Ten trash cans @ $900 each! Are they nuts.
    There needs to be a hiring freeze.

  • Dirk Diggler

    How much would it cost to have the lifeguards clean the pools? I’d pay extra.

    • RestonAssurance

      The kids need to clean the pools just like the kids in Japan clean their own classes!

  • ProudDeplorable2016

    Kids should be in SCHOOLS, not POOLS. All these teenagers are going to make so much noise and ruin the tranquility of Restons suburbs. We should vote no on this

    • noodmik

      You write like a “Get off my lawn” type. Pools are cheaper than schools. Keep the schools closed year round. Open the pools year round and heat them. We should vote yes on this. And add in a Hooters since someone invariably will add the inane Hooters theme.

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