Reston Association Reinstates Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee

The Reston Association (RA) has reinstated the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) after a year-long suspension.

The committee, which was temporarily suspended in February 2020, advises the RA “Board of Directors on the sound management and development of facilities and amenities for association members, the delivery of association-sponsored or co-sponsored recreation/leisure activities and services and the prioritization of funding for capital improvements and recreation services,” according to the association’s site.

RA is already accepting applications online for any member in good standing that wishes to volunteer to be a committee member for PRAC.

The advisory committee was suspended at a board meeting as RA moved forward with a data-driven review of its recreational facilities. The review was headed by the Recreation Facilities Working Group (RFWG), which presented its findings during the board’s Feb. 25 meeting.

The reinstatement of PRAC last week came as one of RFWG’s primary recommendations for the RA board.

“Part of the facility workflow process that we envisioned has the PRAC being a significant player in helping to navigate through that workflow process, managing community engagement and helping the board understand what are our opportunities and perhaps challenges as we make decisions around individual facilities,” said Jeff Thomas, a RFWG member who presented the group’s findings to the board.

The primary recommendations RFWG advised to the board also included implementing a facility workflow process to repurpose or maintain specific sites and evaluate the annual funding required preventing deferring major repairs and replacement at sites.

Other recommendations were to encourage RA member participation and seek feedback on facilities and building a Parks and Recreation Master Plan for the next 10 years.

“We’re a standout community when it comes to our recreation facilities. We should be proud of that,” Thomas said. “The thing we do need to recognize though is that the increased capital cost needs to be dealt with in a meaningful way. They’re probably not going to be sustainable without significant increases to assessments or other funding sources.”

Thomas also presented findings and recommendations for the pools, tennis courts and lake access in the RA community.

RFWG’s proposals for pools were that they should be a focus in a new community recreation master plan, marketing should be increased to help grow pool membership and an evaluation should be conducted on amenity improvements for best practices of pool operations and service to residents.

Thomas also shared that RA should evaluate long-term operations of underutilized pools and potential opportunities for repurposing them.

The lake access recommendations included improving Reston residents’ access to the lakes, improving or installing launches for small boats or kayaks, and adding boat storage and dock fees for non-residents. Other recommendations were to install docks or controlled areas for fishing or observation, introduce new community programming, and partner with other community-oriented groups for environmental education.

“The lakes are certainly important assets that we have here in Reston that are really valued and appreciated,” Thomas said. “But we think there’s probably opportunities to better leverage those lakes for recreational activities.”

The tennis court recommendations included ensuring adequate budgeting for maintenance of the courts and their surrounding areas, providing more marketing of the courts, capturing more data on tennis interest for future decisions and exploring adapting underused courts to a multi-use model to allow play for other sports.

Instead of taking immediate action on RFWG’s recommendations, the board approved a motion from Director Bob Petrine to defer any decisions on them until the full board has a working session to discuss each item. His motion included deferring action on RFWG’s report until the Fiscal Committee finishes its current project work on the facility financial analysis.

Petrine’s approved motion also included directing RA staff to send RFWG’s report and materials to association members via RA’s newsletter, cluster newsletters and social media channels as well with other committees.

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