Reston, VA

It’s been 15 years since Reston Association conducted a comprehensive review of how its recreational facilities are used and should be used in the coming years.

As the community’s infrastructure and demographics change rapidly, RA’s Board of Directors officially kicked off a data-driven review of its facilities at a Thursday meeting.

The board moved to establish a Recreation Facilities Working Group — which will include nine members — which will undertake the year-long effort along with staff.

Most park and recreation facilities typically conduct comprehensive planning efforts every ten years using data on utilization and other trends.

Discussions about a similar effort in 2018 were stalled. RA’s board noted that the organization is now uniquely positioned to complete the evaluation using new data generated from its WebTrac registration system and other data points.

Here’s more from RA on what’s  driving the effort:

A recent catalyst for conducting an in-depth evaluation of RA facilities is the condition of Lake Thoreau Pool. The RA Board has committed funds to renovate the facility, and this process is just getting started. It is a substantial commitment of funds whether to repair or fully renovate (as was done previously with four other pools.)

Lake Thoreau pool is the first in line, with a small number of other pools coming up for consideration and attention. The explosion of pickleball interest and demand is another barometer of RA membership’s changing interests and needs. RA has recognized the growth, embraced it, and is moving forward with providing dedicated pickleball courts. What other activity is out on the horizon for which membership demand will exceed our supply and RA will be playing catch-up?

Another important aspect to this is the role of other providers in the community – Reston Community Center, Fairfax County Park Authority and even the Y-Fairfax County Reston and other private businesses which offer fitness centers. With the 2021 budget development commencing this summer for near-term focus and the future focus of our biennial budget for 2022-2023 kicking off in mid-2021, now is the correct time to begin an evaluation that would include: data analysis of current usage, financial aspects (operating, maintenance and capital costs), demographic projections, a review of industry trends and understanding what other area recreation providers are planning and in what timeframe

RA’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will be temporarily suspended as the workgroup conducts its analysis.

The effort should be completed by February 2021, according to Larry Butler.

The organization will seek nine members for workgroup, including a PRAC representation, four representatives from each RA district, two at-large members, an RA board member who will serve as chair, and a parks and recreation staff member.

RA Board Vice President Julie Bitzer said that the organization’s fiscal committee will provide substantial input to the workgroup. A request to add a fiscal committee member on the workgroup –which would then reach a number impractical for voting and decision making –was rejected.

Community buy-in and feedback will be a critical part of the analysis, Bitzer said.

Photo by RA

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