This op-ed was submitted by Lynne Mulston, vice president of Reston Citizens Association, chair of Rescue Reston’s North Course Committee, and a member of Hidden Creek Country Club. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.
What doesn’t Wheelock understand about the Reston community’s response to their plans to develop Hidden Creek Country Club?
The focus groups that were held last year should have sent a clear message that the majority of the participants want the open space golf course at Hidden Creek to remain as such. One focus group participant said, “You [Wheelock and Swaback] don’t get it. We already have our park and we don’t pay a cent for it.”
The members of Hidden Creek — many of whom are long-term residents of Reston, have chosen to raise their families here, paid their taxes to Fairfax County including the added Small Tax District #5 assessments for the pleasure of living here, joined Hidden Creek for its amenities including swimming, tennis and golf, a sport that you can play well into your retirement years. In fact, there are numerous senior members (70+ years of age) at the Club which also serves as the home course for McLean High School’s golf team.
I was shocked recently when I received photos of a display that Wheelock Communities has set-up in a member event room just off the Tavern Bar and Grill. Every inch of wall space is covered with posters, presentations, and pictures of the plunder of Wheelock’s vision to turn 164-acres of open space that Gulf Reston originally dedicated to the people of Reston.
Here are just a few of the details of Wheelock’s proposal for HCCC’s development:
- 100+ acres and 8-10 tennis courts would be dedicated to Fairfax County Park Authority. That’s right! The open space that the Reston community pays NOTHING to maintain, would go the FCPA which our tax dollars fund. IOW, Restonians would now be tasked to pay so that Wheelock can make a profit by further densifying Reston despite that fact that the Reston Master Plan has always said both Reston golf courses shall remain open space!
- Reston was originally planned with two permanent 18-hole golf courses to offset significant overall community density elsewhere. Now Wheelock wants to reduce the cumulative open space requirements by developing choice portions of the course. 650 homes would be placed on the open space that Robert Simon envisioned. Vehicular traffic on a proposed new road system would significantly add to the congestion we’re already experiencing. Our already overcrowded schools would be further stressed.
- Fairfax County is planning to build a new 4-acre storm water management pond on the southern portion of HCCC to fix past development mistakes which result in flooding north of the Dulles Toll Road. Pursuant to this plan and Wheelock’s inability to develop land in this area due to it being a pipeline and floodplain, plans are to convert a huge part of the present course to other recreational amenities managed by the FCPA. The issue is if this is allowed, we taxpayers will pay in perpetuity for what now is ecologically precious open space.
- Wheelock is promoting a false narrative that when golf course use is eliminated, draining water from Lake Anne will cease. Claims that Hidden Creek takes 150,000 gallons of water per day from Lake Anne are erroneous. At first glance, this sounds like a lot of water but let’s look at the FACTS:
- The lake covers 27.7653 surface acres with an average depth of 13 feet. This means that the volume of the lake is 117,615,560 gallons.
- Hidden Creek monitors the pond near Temporary Road and North Shore Drive regularly. Only when needed does Hidden Creek draw water from Lake Anne.
- At maximum capacity, Hidden Creek’s pump can only pump 179 gpm. They rarely use it at that rate, but if they did, it would take 2.5 days to draw down the lake 1-inch.
It’s clear that Wheelock is betting their $14 million investment could net a return of $250 million; their investors are relying on their success. It’s up to us to show them why Reston was a poor choice for their exploitations. Vote for candidates who clearly state their intent to protect Reston’s golf courses. Save our community!
Photo via Lynne Mulston