Ellen Graves, Former Reston Association President, Leaves Behind Legacy of Volunteerism

Ellen Graves, a former Reston Association president and a community leader known for her volunteerism, died Monday (April 9).

Graves, a Reston resident for more than 30 years, worked with many organizations and was well-known for her ability to spot talent, identify community needs, and find solutions to challenges she saw in Reston.

Local residents who knew Graves said she had a penchant for encouraging others to make contributions to the community.

“She was probably the friendliest person you’d meet. She had a big small and could talk to anybody,” said Ed Robichaud, who knew her for more than 20 years. “Small groups tend to be divisive at times or personality driven. That was just not Ellen. She was always one level about the fray.”

She served on RA’s Board of Directors beginning in 2013 and was elected to a three-year term as apartment owners’ representative in 2014. The next year, she was elected president by RA’s board.

Michael Sanio, who served with Graves on RA’s board, said he declined an offer to run against her when she sought the board president position.

“I said absolutely not. She had the time, willingness and leadership skills to do this. She made a real effort to work directly with all members of the board and make sure everyone had a voice in the community,” Sanio said.

In 2004, Graves was named a recipient of the Best of Reston awards.

Professionally, Graves worked at IBM and was executive director of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women, Inc.. She was formerly Chief of Staff for Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. 

“She was a very dear friend to me and many, many others. She’s touched countless in the community,” Sanio said.

Graves served on other boards like the Fairfax County Social Services Board, Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help and the Private Industry Council.

“She had the biggest rolodex in town,” Robichaud said. “If you needed someone to pick up trash on South Lakes Drive, she could come up with a name in ten seconds.”

Graves is survived by two children. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made public.


Fairfax County Board Approves Expanded Reston Station Project

Major redevelopment is underway as Comstock Partners continue to complete the massive Reston Station development on the northe side of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

On Tuesday (April 11), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an expanded version of the project, which calls for a further 1.7 million square feet of development, including a mix of residential units, a hotel and office towers.

The project is part of a public-private partnership with the county, which owns seven acres of the roughly 12-acre development. Changes include the addition of 362,450 square feet of development for the buildings on the Reston Station Plaza, increases in the heights of building, and the addition of a hotel to respond to “industry feedback,” said Cooley LLP’s Mark Looney.

The Promenade, an extension of Reston Station, would redevelop a Bank of America, medical buildings and 30 office condominiums on the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue into high rise buildings with up to 540 units, a 14-story office and a 23-story, 280-room hotel with 80 private residences.

Under amended plans, the county’s 1.3-acre portion of the project, previously designated for Reston Station, will be included in The Promenade in order to better unify the block.

Around 17 percent of the units will be affordable at levels of affordability ranging from 70 to 100 percent of the area median income. Comstock also plans to provide $1.9 million to the county’s affordable housing trust fund.

Comstock’s plans also include a woonerf, a shared street system that is used by pedestrians, bicyclists and cars, but does not contain sidewalks, curbs and traffic lights.

The county’s land use plan for the area north of the station includes 2.4 million square feet of development and roughly 1,900 housing units.

“Lots of trees gave up their lives for this application,” said Sharon Bulova, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Comstock plans to begin construction on its next office building at 1906 Reston Metro Plaza this spring. Plans for another 180,000-square-foot office are under county review.

Photos via Comstock


Pet of the Week: Bowie

Becky's Pet Care

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

Meet Bowie, a Labrador Retriever mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Bowie along with his sister Roxy are gorgeous little Labrador mix babies of maybe 16 weeks old. He has a beautiful yellow coat and is a happy, friendly boy — he’s going to make his adopter’s a terrific companion.

There are also two more siblings that I’m waiting to get pics of so stay tuned for more. All of these lab mix pups have happy, affectionate dispositions and will be great family dogs.

Precious pups like these go fast, so please send your application on in pronto so you don’t miss out. Bowie is up to date on all shots and dewormings and carries an adoption fee of $355 which includes his micro chip. This extremely friendly little fella is going to bring lots of joy to some lucky adopters, so don’t delay.

Are you and Bowie a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.


Now Open: Founding Farmers at Reston Station

Founding Farmers, a 13,000-square-foot restaurant, is now open at 1904 Reston Metro Plaza.

The restaurant by Farmers Restaurant Group is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch.

Founding Farmers also offers on-the-go breakfast for customers at the “First Bake Cafe.” Reservations are available online. Validated parking is available in the Wiehle-Reston East parking garage, as well as valet parking for customers who pull up their vehicles to the plaza.

Here’s more from the restaurant:

Founding Farmers Reston will have many guest favorites, such as house-made pastas and our Southern Fried Chicken & Donut. Our chefs are also particularly excited to share a nice range of cuts from our Steak House, such as our classic 48-Hour Salt-Cured Prime Rib. Some of us can’t wait for the comforting and wholesome grain and protein bowls, or the decadence of our homemade desserts and hand-churned ice cream. Of course, we will be serving our large selection of craft cocktails made with spirits from our own distillery in DC, Founding Spirits.

The restaurant has been is built with the same sustainably-minded practices we use across Farmers Restaurant Group, pursuing LEED and Green Restaurant Association certifications. We also have amazing artwork from a great group of original artists to share with our guests and to help tell our story.

Sweet Leaf, a cafe adjacent to the new restaurant, also recently opened at Reston Station Plaza.

Photo via Founding Farmers Reston


Wednesday Deals & Events in Reston

Every weekday, we highlight deals and events around Reston, with help from Tim’s Reston Directory. Some require a coupon or have more instructions, so be sure to click the link for details and any additional requirements.

Follow Tim’s Reston Directory on Twitter and Facebook and visit TIMS.US for a comprehensive monthly calendar of deals and events around Reston.

Interested in special promotion as the deal or event of the day? Have a deal or event tip? Email Tim at [email protected]!


Updated: Newly Elected Reston Association Board Members Highlight Need for Transparency, Improving Infrastructure

Reston Association’s Board of Directors will welcome two new faces following the Tuesday night announcement of election results in the contested race.

Returning board member Andy Sigle secured an at-large seat for one year and newcomer Ven Iyer won an at-large seat for three years. Incumbents Sridhar Ganesan, the board’s current treasurer, maintained his at-large seat for three years and incumbent Julie Bitzer also held on to her seat at South Lakes District Director.

“It’s our hope that the entire membership will join us in this recognition regardless of the outcome,” said Caren Anton, chairwoman of RA’s elections committee.

Ganesan won with 3,476 votes — just 294 votes more than Iyer. Margins in other races were not as slim. Bitzer won over Tammi Petrine with 662 more votes for the South Lakes District seat and Sigle won with more than 843 votes.

Thirteen candidates vied for four open seats during the election period — competitiveness that Anton said could help boost voter turnout, which has been historically low for the organization.

However, this year, overall voter turnout hovered at 19 percent — the same as last year. Turnout hovered around 14 percent three years prior.

Newly elected board members highlighted broad visions for the coming months.

Sigle said he hopes focus on three main goals: boosting community engagement, establishing relationships and processes to improve RA’s influence with the county related to development and sustaining and enhancing RA’s physical infrastructure.

Bitzer also highlighted the need to maintain recreational amenities. With five of RA’s fifteen pools slated for major renovations in the next five years, Bitzer said it is critical to complete a pool demand analysis before upcoming decisions on the budget and RA assessments. She also hopes to build off the work of a working group established in March to analyze lake and boat access.

Our overall policies and governance have some conflicting guidance and potentially out-of-date boat restrictions – again the timeline is to have recommendations ready for the Board’s consideration by November for changes to benefit all – those who use the lakes and those who must enforce our usage and access policies,” Bitzer said.

Iyer said the campaign season has been a “long and uphill journey.” He will continue to “ stop wasteful spending, improve Board transparency, stop projects invasive on neighbors and nature, and advocate Member interests with Fairfax County.”

He noted that the county’s response to RA’s letter about planned population density increases indicated the need to investigate more effective options witht he community.

“… I am not certain if our methods have been effective in conveying Member interests to Fairfax County,” he said.

He also said he was interested in addressing a concern he said he repeatedly heard on the campaign trail that member complaints were not being heard.

The impact of slates on the election — a relatively new development in the election — is unclear. One official slate, “4 for Reston” slate included Ganesan, Travis Johnson, John Bowman and Petrine.

A group of Reston residents created and endorsed an informal group for mailing distributions, coined the “Alliance for a Better Reston,” which included Bitzer, Sigle, Colin Meade and Aaron Webb. RA candidates said they did not choose to be a part of the alliance.

This story has been updated. Ganesan was not immediately available for comment. 


Wednesday Morning Notes

A bedroom community awakens — A look at how younger people are leaving cities and settling in communities like Reston. [U.S. News & World Report]

For job seekers — Reston Association has officially posted a job listing as it continues to search for a new CEO after Cate Fulkerson’s sudden departure from the position this year. [Association Career]

So[lar] awesome — Virginia’s capacity to generate solar electricity is expected to triple over the next year. Can the Commonwealth handle that power? [WTOP]

Going mobile — Joining the rest of the digital world, Metro plans to enable customers to pay for trips by using a mobile device next year. Of course, there isn’t an app for that (yet). [WMATA]

$20 million for Expel — The cybersecurity startup based in Herndon has raised the funds led by a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Funds will fuel the company’s product development and go-to market efforts.  [Washington Business Journal]

Photo by Lauren Pinkston

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