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2018 Reston Association Election: Meet Sridhar Ganesan

by RestonNow.com March 1, 2018 at 2:30 pm 31 Comments

Voting in the 2018 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 5 through April 2. This week, we will continue posting profiles on each of the candidates.

Featured here is Sridhar Ganesan, who is facing six other candidates for two at-large seats for a three-year term. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. 

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

I have lived in Reston for over 19 years. After an international finance and business degree from Columbia University, I was working out of New Jersey for Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, when I traveled to Reston in 1997 for a conference.  My wife and I found this small new town to be charming.  After numerous trips to Reston over a year, we relocated here in 1998.

What brought me here was work, but what made me choose Reston from all of the neighboring towns was a combination of things:

The small town feel, lakes, open space, walkability, very little density, proximity to an airport and, believe it or not, I liked Reston for TRAFFIC.  Yes, even with fewer lanes on Reston Parkway and a very incomplete Fairfax County Parkway that did not run all along Reston, traffic flow was just fine then.

Reston seemed like a great place to drop down roots, chase my version of the American dream and raise a family. I am exactly where I want to be.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Seven years ago, I decided to leverage my varied and global experience for public service in civic issues and Education. I served on the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) budget taskforce in 2015 that identified potential cuts of up to $100 million to deal with expected funding shortfalls.

In 2012, I joined the Reston Citizens Association (RCA) board and served as its President from 2014 to 2017.  During that time, we opposed higher Planned Residential Community (PRC) density; the opening up of Reston National Golf Course for development; Town Center paid parking; and any re-development that would force low-income seniors out of Lake Anne Fellowship House.

Given its central role, we also focused on Reston Association (RA) and its serious missteps on the acquisition and renovation of the Tetra/Lakehouse property.  These experiences led me to the conclusion that the best place to reform RA was from within.

I now serve as Treasurer of Reston Association (RA) and am an At-Large Director.  With strong support from the current RA Board, I led the establishment of many operational reforms at RA, since my appointment in June 2017.   I want to finish what I started at RA, so I am running for a new 3-year At-Large Term to reinforce the reforms to make RA work better for its members.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

Density:  The issue of greatest importance to Reston is the County proposed increase in density from 13 to 16 persons per acre in Reston’s PRC district.  Combined with the growth in the Transit Station Areas (TSA), an increase in the PRC population from the zoned limit of about 74,000 to 100,000 seriously threatens the future of Reston we know today. Property developers recently expressed concerns about softness in the Reston market, so where is the demand and why the rush? Reston’s current transportation and other infrastructure cannot support such growth.  The public response has been a loud “NO” to higher density. RA’s role should be collaborative with its members and other community organizations to shape Reston’s destiny.

RA Operations, Processes, Controls:  A second major issue is completion of the restructuring of RA operations started by the current Board majority and assuring that these changes become ingrained in RA. There were some serious problems that the Tetra/Lake House property acquisition, renovation and planning showed.  They include:

  • The process of decision-making, the high purchase price, the questionable appraisal, the lack of negotiation, and inadequacy of the referendum materials.
  • The lack of controls, which led to serious cost overruns.
    Poor use planning for the property without fiscal responsibility or careful analysis.
  • Many improvements have been made during 2017, but continued focus on corrective action is necessary to make RA prudent, cost-effective and responsive to members.

What should RA be? Third concern is to work with sports groups, members, clusters and other groups to do some soul-searching on RA’s strategic vision.  Many RA assets are aging.  Replacing/updating them will cost more than the Reserve Study estimates.  Bumper sticker slogans such as “Wasteful Spending” are easy, but even hard work can only yield so much cost reduction without crippling services and RA operations, so that is not the answer to everything.  RA cannot be all things to all people, so it is time for an honest discussion about what RA should be and what it should deliver to its members.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

I want to continue the reforms instituted by the current Board and continue the positive change. I am leading the establishment and implementation of internal controls, oversight of policies and procedures to avoid a Tetra/Lake House repeat. I want to achieve the following for more effective functioning of RA for the benefit of members:

  • Complete a comprehensive analysis of recreational facilities (pools, ball-fields, tennis courts) to inform the public about usage/demand and member benefit, supply, revenues, expenses and cost to update or replace.
  • Comprehensive analysis and update of the Reserve Study for maintaining, replacing and updating aging RA assets.
  • Reinforce rigor in planning new investments, improvements to amenities, validate cost estimates, purchasing/contracting procedures, and ensure major projects and programs are implemented on schedule and within budget.
  • Make RA a leader in voicing/advocating for the community’s needs on issues like PRC Density and work in collaboration with members and community organizations.
  • Establish a process and system to seek out quantifiable member feedback on major issues and policies.
  • Continue to drive more transparency through open meetings, public reporting and disclosure, and to strengthen Board oversight of on-going operations.
  • Establish a routine process for review of RA rules and regulations for flexibility and materiality.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

I bring 20+ years of operational, financial and executive leadership experience, including as Chief Financial Officer of a publicly traded company that I steered to a NASDAQ initial public offering.

My experience spans media, satellites, telecommunications, technology and education in the US and international markets.

I am an entrepreneur who has started-up several new ventures around the world and an executive who has helped restructure companies and businesses. My nature is to roll up my sleeves, dive into details, fix issues and get things done.

I have dedicated several hundred hours to digging into RA and it’s restructuring during my eight months as a very hands-on Treasurer and Director. I have demonstrated the vision, skillsets and passion necessary for public service. Some of the accomplishments are:

  • Achieved reduction in assessments; 1st time ever in RA’s history.
  • Shaped budget, led in-depth budget sessions, provided more public input opportunities than before.
  • Moved RA towards rigorous, analytical approach for programs and capital projects.
  • Driving the establishment of solid decision-making processes, internal controls, policies and procedures to avoid a repeat of Tetra/Lake House disaster.
  • Providing strong, diligent review of the adequacy of contracts and their performance.
  • Reconstituted, reformulated fiscal committee for greater engagement and Board support.

I believe that my background, commitment to public service, time and effort I have put into RA and the results achieved will help me as a board member over the next years.

Click here to view video statements or read candidate statements submitted to RA. 

Photo by Reston Association

  • Donald

    Mr. Ganesan,

    The Community is reading this RA Board is considering closing facilities, possibly the Lake Thoreau pool.

    Given these matters will likely spill over to the next board, I’d like to know your position.
    Are you in favor of closing facilities, eliminating programs? If so, which ones come to mind?

    Thank you,
    Donald

  • Arlene Krieger

    Mr.Ganesan,

    I would also like to know what your opinion is about getting rid of Lake House once and for all. There is no way to get enough income to even come out even and cover the expenses. Why not cut our looses and take what we can get and put the money back in our emergency fund. Why not invest that money in such a way as we can get our money back?.

    • Guest

      Arlene,

      Excellent idea. I could see two opportunities here:

      1) USTA Clubhouse with restaurant bistro bar and pro shop

      2) Clydes

      Please make it so!

      Thanks,

      • 40yearsinreston

        Clydes arent interested
        The white elephant is unsuitable for a restaurant
        It could be used as a 24X7 dog park

        • Donald
          • 30yearsinreston

            the ordinances preclude its use as a dining establishment
            These were detailed during the time of the RA purchase

          • Donald

            Not really.

            The Lake Newport Convenience Center is still designated as a Convenience Center in the County’s Reston Comprehensive Master Plan.

            “CONVENIENCE CENTERS

            Vision

            The Sunrise Valley, Lake Newport, Soapstone, and Fairways Convenience Centers will continue to serve as small commercial centers for their respective surrounding neighborhood.

            The Reston Vision and Planning Principles serve as the basis for the Convenience Centers’ general vision, which provides general guidance for all of Reston.

            In general, Convenience Centers should be locally-serving retail and office in scope and location. Connectivity to the surrounding neighborhood should be provided for all modes of transport including pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicles. In addition, planning and design should provide for environmental sustainability and green technology.”

            One could argue the footprint could not be altered too much, but one could easily go up, adding a second story.

            Donald

          • 30yearsinreston

            a bistro is not a 7-11

          • Donald

            I think a Lake House Bistro is good enough. Add valet parking too.

            Donald

          • Arlene Krieger

            Donald, some of the people running let these things happen. Why vote for them? It’s self destructive.

          • Donald

            Yup.

            Donald

          • Tetra Troll

            You mean like Waddell, Bitzer, Segal & Pinkman, all of whom supported the Tetra $2.65 million purchase & $500,000 cost overruns!

          • Tetra Troll

            Lauer tried to sell that derelict for 15 years – no takers

          • Donald

            What’s the harm in testing the waters with developers. Reach out to Looney. No downside to members to see what the possibilities are.

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            Yeah. The same ordinances that precluded residential use in the Sunrise Valley convenience center, and residential use along the Dulles Access Road. The problem with simple answers is that they are always wrong.

          • 30yearsinreston

            so these examples are fronting a water runoff pond ?
            who could have known
            The problem is that some aren’t wiling to due diligence before they run their mouths off in support for their pet projects

          • Donald

            Using the existing footprint, and maybe a little more (where it’s allowed) — sure thing. Adding another story works too.

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            You correctly state the obvious. But my point is that county ordinances are neither absolute nor eternal.

            No one can argue with your second point. That was a major factor in the Lake House acquisition. We saw it in spades once again a few months ago, also in relation to Lake House. I suspect that is what motivates so many commentators here to fear what they term “groupthink”.

          • Donald

            Would you be referencing Mr. Ganesan’s infamous “reduction in assessments” which he is so proud of?

            Was that board “groupthink”?

            https://www.restonnow.com/2018/01/05/reston-association-pays-off-the-lake-house-loan/

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            Donald, there are two truths behind personal success:
            1. Don’t tell everything you know.
            2.

          • Donald

            🙂

      • Arlene Krieger

        How about selling it to a day care center? Plenty of parking and enough land to put in a play park for the kids.

        • Tetra Troll

          Zoning won’t allow that.

  • Donald

    When Mr. Ganesan’s was asked to elaborate on his accomplishments, he stated –

    https://media.giphy.com/media/9189Qvck2dX1u/giphy.gif

  • Arlene Krieger

    Could never vote for this guy. Conflict of interests. Will he pick a CEO who won’t fire him? after all he is both on the Board an a very well paid staff member. This should never been allowed to happen. If he is elected I think he should recuse himself from picking a CEO as he is a staff member. The new CEO will be dealing with staff issues and his staff review.

    • Donald

      Actually, the Treasurer position is a volunteer position. But, you still raise a good question. This slate and their RA board cronies must already have a person in mind for the CEO position. Who? That’s where the community should be performing it’s due diligence, now.

      Donald

    • Are you

      Arlene, You portray yourself as knowing all about RA matters but you don’t know that all Board positions and committees are VOLUNTEERS!
      It is distressing that you are just throwing out un-truths just to discredit the work that this man has done in a few short months.

      SHAME ON YOU!

      • Donald

        But, I’m sure they’ve chosen the next CEO already.

        Donald

        • Tetra Troll

          False

          • Donald

            Let’s see how it plays out.

            Donald

    • Frank

      Your statement that Mr. Ganesan is a “very well paid staff member” is completely false. He is not a staff member and he is not paid for his position on the Board. You should know better and ought to ashamed of yourself for making such allegations. All you had to do was read the Reston Deed to know that a person on the Board cannot be a staff member. Your credibility just went to minus zero.

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