Severe Thunderstorm Warning In Effect Today

A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect until 5:30 p.m. today (Thursday).

The National Weather Service encourages residents to take shelter as soon as possible.

Here’s more from the alert:

IMPACT…DAMAGING WINDS WILL CAUSE SOME TREES AND LARGE BRANCHES TO FALL. THIS COULD INJURE THOSE OUTDOORS, AS WELL AS  DAMAGE HOMES AND VEHICLES. ROADWAYS MAY BECOME BLOCKED BY DOWNED TREES. LOCALIZED POWER OUTAGES ARE POSSIBLE. UNSECURED LIGHT OBJECTS MAY BECOME PROJECTILES.

The warning covers Reston, Herndon, Oakton, Chantilly, Wolf Trap and Great Falls.

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Small Change Consignment Says Goodbye to Historic Lake Anne Plaza After 37 Years of Business

Small Change Consignment, a relic of Reston’s history and Bob Simon’s vision for the community, is closing its doors at historic Lake Anne Plaza on Saturday.

The children’s consignment shop — home to hundreds of items and the hearts of consigning families — has cemented its role in the community as a place to buy used clothing and a community gathering place. On a recent Wednesday evening, customers and friends came in to say goodbye to owner Susann Gerstein, 70, who has operated the shop for the last 37 years.

A group of teenagers lined up empty hangers in rainbow form — an organizational style Gerstein loves. She spent most of the night on Tuesday packing away clothes and coordinating donation drop-offs with local nonprofits.

Not much has changed since three young mothers and friends  started the venture on Nov. 21, 1981 in the vacant offices of an optician across the lake. The friends embraced the dark interior — with its Marimekko wallpaper and lime green carpeting. Gerstein’s husband built wooden clothing stands. Gerstein stitched hand-sewn clothing tags.

The paint was still drying when the store first opened. From the first day, customers embraced the business as a place to buy used clothes, chat over the racks and build community. The store has averaged 1,200 consigning families annually.

Eighteen years later, the shop moved to its current location, giving it a bigger space to work with. Gerstein’s paper ledger and the same Rolodexes from its opening day sit on the counter.

“Friendships grow for me here and they’ve grown for me too,”Gerstein said. “That’s the hardest part of saying goodbye.” She said the store brought out the extroverted side of her otherwise introverted personality.

Rents, which had been steadily increasing over the years, skyrocketed this year, making it hard to make ends meet, Gerstein says.

“I tried and we just couldn’t make it work,” she said.

She describes herself as a Reston booster and a big believer in Simon’s vision. Her involvement with Cornerstones, a nonprofit organization that promotes self-sufficiency; the Reston Historic Trust & Museum; and other organizations is clear in the store. She was the founding president of the Reston Museum and helped found the Reston Historic Trust for Community Revitalization.

A Cornerstones donation jar sits on the counter and Gerstein often donates clothing to local nonprofits and domestic violence victims through various community partnerships.

Politics entered her shop following the November 2016 presidential election. Gerstein put up a sign, “Stop Tearing Families Apart” in the window of her storefront. She began selling “Hate Has No Home Here” signs. A fabric banner of children holding balloons — which was made by the friend in the original space — hangs from the ceiling. On weeknights, she tries to ride with members of Herndon-Reston Indivisible to hold lighted letters at the White House several times a month.

“I wanted my store to be a safe space for everyone. Some people didn’t like it but everyone knows where I stand,” Gerstein said.

After receiving calls from Doug Bernstein from popular toy-making company Melissa & Doug for years, Gerstein began having the toys in her shop. She stopped taking used toys after federal regulators raised questions about the quality of plastic and lead used in toys. Her husband built a Melissa & Doug grocery stand, which children often played with as their parents shopped in the store.

Gerstein says running the shop, which she has done since 2002, has been extremely fulfilling and exhilarating. As her last day of business comes near, she hopes to spend more time volunteering in the community, which she did not realize she would warm up to after moving from New York City in the late 1970s. Her grandchildren and three children plan to come from the city for a send-off on Saturday.

On a recent evening, she gazed across the lake to where Simon’s monumental figure sits on a bench. She says she’ll keep her website’s domain running if she finds another place like Lake Anne for the next generation of consigning moms.

“It’s so hard to let go.”

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Beer Bar Backs Away from RTC West Development

The Black Squirrel, a D.C beer bar that inked a deal to open near the Reston Town Center Metro Station two years ago, has backed away from plans to open in the area.

According to a spokesperson for JBG Smith, the developer behind RTC West, The Black Squirrel will no longer open at RTC West, which is anchored by Coopers Hawk Winery and Restaurant. The company did not indicate why this was the case.

Sense of Thai, a Thai restaurant, is expected to open in place of the beer bar by the first quarter of 2020. Infinity Spa and Nails is already open.

File photo

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Ideas Floated for New Performing Arts Center at Reston Gateway

In recent years, Boston Properties has proffered to set aside a parcel of land in a recently approved mixed-use development for a new performing arts center. The circular center would be located on Block J as part of Reston Gateway, 4.8 million square feet of development near the future Reston Town Center Metro Station.  It would contain up to 50,000 square feet and would sit near an office building with eights levels, including three levels of underground parking.

The proposed proffer has prompted Reston Community Center to explore Reston residents’ opinions on the center and whether or not RCC should play a role in pushing the initiative forward. These questions will be posed in a community survey that will be conducted this summer.

RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon told Reston Now that if the center determines it should construct such a venue, it would seek a bond referendum to fund the construction. Gordon said that RCC’s Board of Governors has no intent to raise the current tax rate.

If RCC takes part in the effort, it hopes to ensure the facility is large enough to host dance, choral and orchestral music, and theatrical musics with large casts. Its primary service audience would be community-based non-profit arts organizations and Fairfax County Public Schools’ arts programs.

Gordon also reiterated that RCC will not compete with the Wolf Trap or negatively impact its operations. RCC also hopes to ensure the center is accessible to all — with affordable rents for local art users and affordable ticket pricing.

Others have also discussed leveraging cash contributions from the county, nearby towns like Herndon and Vienna, and other entities.

“If those were to be realized, those contributors would potentially achieve calendar access to use of the new venue, and/or perhaps some role in its mission. This would be a complicated scenario to pursue, but it’s one worth exploring,” Gordon wrote.

Discussions are preliminary, as RCC has not yet discussed future possibilities with Boston Properties or the county’s land use staff.

Rendering via handout/Fairfax County Government

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BurgerIM, Other Retailers Coming to VY at Reston Heights This Year

Retailers at VY at Reston Heights are working toward opening their doors this year on the ground-level of the 385-unit apartment community.

JBG Smith, the developer, unveiled a lineup of retailers last year. Recently, Willpower Functional Fitness backed out of the project. A JBG Smith spokesperson did not indicate why this was the case.

The mixed-use project is located at 11830 Sunrise Valley Drive.

While opening dates are estimates only, most of the retailers are expected to open toward the end of the year. Retailers include My Home Thai, Allure Nails, Super Chicken, Reston Barber, Reston Kabob and California-based chain BurgerIM.

My Home Thai — a carry-out restaurant — could be the first to open sometime in the third quarter of this year.

Other retailers are expected to open in the last quarter of the year.

JBG Smith did not provide specific opening dates or timeframes.

File photo

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Del. Ken Plum: The Glory That Was Greece

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

From my earliest years of study of history, I was always fascinated with the story of Ancient Greece. A goal that I had for decades was realized recently as Jane and I vacationed for nearly two weeks in Greece. We were not disappointed as we stood on the soil and envisioned from the ruins the glory that must have been Greece.

Greece is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, and this column will use some broad generalizations to condense that history and create a context for the influence of Greek culture on world history. Linking the ancient classical Greek period and the Hellenic periods together, the Ancient Greek civilization extended from about 800 BC and lasted until about 400 AD. During this classical or golden age of Greece, the incredible accomplishments of the Greeks were recorded forever in history.

As an online entry describes it, “Ancient Greece is considered by most historians to be the foundational culture of Western Civilization. Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. Ancient Greek civilization has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, art and architecture of the modern world, particularly during the Renaissance in Western Europe and again during various neo-classical revivals in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and the Americas.”

Historians agree that Greek intellectual achievements have been unparalleled in the history of the Western world whether you are talking about philosophy, literature, mathematics, science, art, architecture, or mythology. Greek intellectual leaders like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle continue to influence the way we think about the way we govern, what we value, and what our ideals are. Their architectural achievements continue to be admired even as most of their most successful structures are in ruin as much from war and destruction as from the passage of time.

While the Parthenon is but a shell of its original magnificence with the pillage, destruction, and weathering it has endured, its significance cannot be overstated as to what happened within its walls. I had seen some of the incredible sculpture that had graced the building in the British Museum as it had been stolen from the edifice by the British in its occupation of the country. The new Archaeological Museum at the Acropolis is ultra-modern and contains dozens of sculptures from the Golden Age and would be a most suitable place for the British to return the art they made off with during their occupation.

Making your way up the steep steps of the Acropolis is a long distance and a long time from Ancient Greece to today that encompasses many conquests, occupations and failures. I am glad that we went to see the remains on the Acropolis and the site where the first Olympians trained and competed. As beautiful as the country and the waters that nearly surround it are, the country is not a major power. In recent times it has been rescued by its neighbors.

Great civilizations have not endured forever even as their influence may still be present. Are we living in a time when our own glory might at some future date be described in the past tense?

File photo

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Thursday Morning Notes

Parents Respond to Herndon High School Porn Case — Concerned parents gathered this week to discuss the case of a former Herndon High School drama teacher who is accused of possessing child pornography and unlawful filming. Police believe Raphael Schklowsky may have also set up two cameras at the school. [WUSA 9]

Fireworks Safety Demonstration Tomorrow — As the Fourth of July approaches, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is hosting a demonstration on how to safety use fireworks. The demonstration is set for 10 a.m. at the Fire and Rescue Training Academy. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Free Yoga at Reston Station — Beloved Yoga will offer free yoga lessons today (Thursday) from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the plaza. [Reston Station]

Registration Deadline for Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta — The deadline to register a boat to participate in the event is on Monday, July 1. The event is set to take place at Lake Anne on Saturday, August 10. [Reston Historic Trust & Museum]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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