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Del. Ken Plum: Best Place to Live

by Del. Ken Plum February 1, 2018 at 10:15 am 10 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

An article in the most recent issue of Money magazine described the best places to live in each of the fifty states; not surprisingly for Virginia the highest ranked place to live is Reston. Reston is not a county, city or town but a big community of 61,319 mostly happy people.

As a native Virginian who has traveled extensively throughout the state, I fully concur with the selection of Reston as the best place to live in a state that is filled with many desirable places to live. However, I was disappointed in the narrative that justified Reston–even their explanation of Reston’s history missed the mark.

I agree that “Reston was once just an idea,” but calling Robert E. Simon “an architect and economist” misses the mark of who he was and what his significant contributions were to building a best place like Reston. Bob Simon was a visionary, philosopher, community builder and developer, and humanitarian. He envisioned a community in which people could live, work and play, and his success in bringing about such a place against great odds continues to be celebrated.

Justification for the selection of Reston is understandably limited as the magazine contained descriptions of 50 communities. It says about Reston, “the thriving Washington, D.C. suburb offers a woodsy atmosphere that includes expanses of parks, lakes, golf courses, and bridle paths. Over 50 miles of pathways were designed to weave in and around its communities to increase pedestrian safety and to ensure that most residents’ homes were no more than a half-mile walk to village centers.” It mentions Reston Town Center that it calls “the community hub,” with an array of dining, entertainment, and shopping venues along with headquarters of major corporations.

Beyond quibbling with some details of the description, I would have chosen other factors that make Reston such a desirable place to live. Noteworthy is the openness of the community to all people from its very beginning. Simon was inviting African Americans to the community while the rest of the state was opposing fair housing laws. The diversity of people living, working and playing together that is occurring in communities throughout the country was a hallmark of

Reston from the beginning and is a value that is baked into the DNA of the community. Muslims pray in local synagogues. A local ecumenical church has four denominations meeting in one service. Its schools are happy places with children of all abilities learning together. It has a variety of housing options, from apartments, condominiums, town and single-family homes and senior and assisted living. It may be the only community in America that requested a homeless shelter be built in it. On a recent weekend, community members attended a social event that raised nearly $450,000 to pay for the relocation costs of families moving out of the shelter.

I love the lakes, trails and facilities of Reston. Most of all, however, I love the people of Reston –their caring, activism and spirit, all of which make it the best place to live in Virginia.

The General Assembly is going full blast. I will update you on what is happening in future columns.

  • Heh

    “Best place to live” will be even better when whiny Boomer liberals pass beyond the veil!

    • OneReally

      No mention of a Metro extension he championed. Interesting! Maybe cause it’s a bust.

      Once again Ken P living in the past and playing identity politics.

      Take your “looks like a machine gun” and retire.

      • Mike M

        Absolutely ” living in the past and playing identity politics.” That “past” is also partly myth.

        So, Ken, are African-Americans not welcome in Reston in 2018? How many places in the US are they not welcome? Muslims? Not welcome? Really? How about mosques that preach hate? Welcome?

        By the way, African-Americans and even legal immigrants have the same interests as the rest of us. So, why do you continue to try to divide and conquer the electorate. Because that is the DNC directive, and it is racist, bigoted, and all those bad things they call everyone else.

  • Concerned

    Rather then spending your time writing your weekly opinion posts why don’t you do something for the people you are suppose to represent and stop the unethical tolls that are now being charged on route 66. People will not be moving to Reston if they are charged $40+ to drive a 10 mile stretch of a road. Even the New York Times wrote an article on how ridiculous the tolls are on 66 and you seem to sit back and do nothing about the issue.

    • Hurray for Reston

      Thank you! Couldn’t agree more. Our elected officials are failing us. I don’t know why Ken and others in Fairfax and Loudoun are not fighting for their constituents against the Governor and VADOT on these tolls. It is outrageous. Keep on writing pointless articles about how a magazine got the reasoning wrong naming Reston the best place to live in Virginia… really valuable use of your time! You were elected to legislate and fight for the interests of your constituents. You are failing to do that.

  • The Constitutionalist

    Amazing that Reston can be such a nice place to live despite Ken’s best efforts to make it the opposite.

  • 40yearsinreston

    The canonization of St Robert continues
    He was a developer looking out how to make a buck from land out in the boonies by trying to distinguish this ‘new town’
    The concept wasnt something he invented
    The reston ethos, if it ever existed, was hijacked a long time ago by the FCBOS and the developers primary enabler, Hudgins who is asleep at the switch
    At best, Mr speakers (small ‘s’) polemics are hypocrital

  • Not that it matters

    Thanks Ken, you finally got around to talk about Reston and how density affects us woodsy folk. Awesome, you got my vote!

  • Richard

    My thoughts exactly, Ken! The write-up in Money Magazine was clearly written by somebody who has little knowledge of Reston and doesn’t understand the true beauty of the place. Nothing pleases me more than to know that the vast majority of Restonians appreciate the diversity and share your feelings.

  • Taxes and Tolls

    “Muslims praying In synagogues” !??? lol
    cats and dogs living together…blah blah blah etc etc
    Way to miss the point of the article entirely and make some inane pandering political statement. Time to retire Ken.


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