The new pickleball program, as well as a new gardening program, were approved at Thursday night’s RA board meeting.
Beginning and advance pickleball clinics will be offered in the near future alongside the usual tennis programs at the Colts Neck recreation area. Each clinic would be able to accommodate between 3 and 8 people, and would cost $36.50 for Reston residents and $38 for nonresidents.
The classes aim to “teach the fundamentals of pickleball, including game rules, scoring and basic strategies to give you all the tools you need to play,” according to the RA proposal documents.
A new gardening program was also approved, to feature classes taught by a Master Gardener. The classes will offer instruction and tips for gardening, utilizing Reston’s existing community garden plots.
Tips from the Master Gardener will also aim to help people interested in growing their own gardens. Students will learn how to determine what kind of garden their land is best suited to, the best placement for it, how to choose the best soil, and what to plant, as well as where to plant it. Help for everything from new plants to transplants will be given, in fruit, vegetables, herbs, flowers and more, including how to deal with pests.
Instruction in basic plant knowledge will be given, including the different parts of plants, how they bear fruit, and why “composting is a gardener’s best friend.”
According to the proposal, the classes will be able to accommodate between 5 and 12 people per class, and will cost $40 for Reston residents, or $45 for nonresidents.
After hearing a detailed presentation of the Hook Road Working Group’s Master Plan, Reston Association board members on Thursday night voted to include $50,000 in the 2019 budget for architectural, engineering and design work to help the project move forward.
Featuring improvements on everything from play areas to permanent bathrooms to traffic calming measures, HRWG members Stu Gibson and Aaron Webb, along with capital projects manager Chris Schumaker, provided a detailed presentation of the master plan Thursday night, with special emphasis on the priorities they identified through public engagement meetings over the past year.
The first priority the group identified was public safety. Members suggested adding “bump-outs” to Fairway Drive that would narrow the road at certain points and act as a natural traffic calming measure, by forcing cars to slow down in order to navigate through the narrowed sections. While the bump-outs would require approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Gibson said VDOT would be identifying its own needs in order to accommodate the newly designed park, so the idea would be to try and piggy-back on any improvements VDOT will want to make.
Other priorities identified by members of the community and working group alike included better lighting for the tennis courts.
The second proposed improvement also had to do with safety. The group proposed pushing the park’s two baseball diamonds closer together and further into the park. Gibson said this would add an extra layer of protection for cars in the parking lot, making it harder for balls to fly that far and potentially hit vehicles, as well as push spectators further back from the road and away from cars.
“This will also afford the community an extra layer of accessibility that is not enjoyed now, while also preserving the tree line,” Gibson explained to the Board. “The community was adamant about not wanting to disturb that tree line, which basically bisects that part of the park down the middle.”
Gibson said another priority that countless members of the community asked for was the installation of a permanent bathroom, to replace the aging porta-potty that sits there now. The group proposed the creation of a new building that features a covered picnic pavilion on one side, with two permanent bathroom stalls on the other side.
The only question about the proposed bathroom was whether or not the RA’s budget can afford the costs of water and sewer work. Two alternate options could be to create a “waterless bathroom,” or a bathroom that is only open 9 months out of the year, and would be closed during the freezing-cold winter months.
Finally, the fourth priority the group identified were improvements related to accessibility and open space. The group proposed building a path along the west side of the tree line to allow increased access to the southeast baseball diamond from Fairway Drive, as well as a limited, five-degree slope from the Hook Road side to allow access by people in wheelchairs. They also proposed a “natural playscape” in added open spaces for children to play outdoors.
Following the presentation, the Board voted unanimously to direct RA staff to include the $50,000 in funding in the 2019 capital projects budget for the necessary architectural, engineering and design work to move forward with the Hook Road Master Plan. The funding will reportedly pay for work to acquire estimates for the design and construction of the features in the plan.
Photo via YouTube/Reston Association
First Round of Spring Thunderstorms Likely On Thursday – The Capital Weather Gang predicts that temperatures will turn warm and humid on Thursday, before a cold front collides with it, bringing the season’s first round of thunderstorms. The likely window for these storms is between 2 and 8 p.m., which could make for a dicey evening rush-hour commute. Temperatures in Reston are predicted to reach highs in the low to mid-80s in the afternoonn. (Washington Post)
Reston, Herndon Teens Featured in ‘Sports Illustrated Kids’ – South Lakes High alum Spencer Alston and Herndon High alum Olivia Dunston are featured in an article for “Sports Illustrated Kids” this month, all about what it’s really like for high school athletes who receive scholarships to play sports in college. Alston was offered a scholarship to Ohio State to play lacrosse, though he instead accepted an offer to play football for Yale. Dunston accepted a scholarship to Virginia Tech for competitive running. The article aims to answer many students’ and parents’ questions, such as how much of the costs of tuition and room and board a scholarship really covers, and whether you are allowed to play multiple sports when you were picked to receive a scholarship for a particular sport. (Sports Illustrated Kids)
Residents Say ‘Don’t Let Overdevelopment Ruin Reston’ – Members of the Coalition For A Planned Reston are making their opinions known about the development going on currently and in the planning stages. In an editorial, partly by a Washington Post reporter and partly by members of the Coalition, they argue that it’s not that they are against new development in Reston, but instead it’s the density at which the development is being planned. “Changes to the county’s comprehensive plans in 2014 and 2015 include so much conceptual development that if it were all approved at its maximum density, the population density limit would be exceeded by more than 18,000,” writes resident Charles Wright. Read the entire letter, and the Coalition’s comments, on their website. (Coalition For A Planned Reston)
South Lakes Students to Show Their Talents – South Lakes High students will take to the stage this Friday evening for the SLHS Talent Show. Students will show off all types of talent, and are hoping members of the community will come to cheer them on. Tickets are $3 in advance or $5 at the door. The show takes place from 7-9 p.m. this Friday, May 11 at the high school, 11400 South Lakes Dr in Reston. (SLHS/Twitter)
File Photo by Reston Now
Reston Beats The National Average For Parks – The Trust For Public Land recently released a study of how many Americans live within 10 walking minutes of a park, and Reston blew the national average out of the water. Reston is home to 73 parks with a total of 1,278 acres of park land–the equivalent of 975 football fields–and according to the study, 92 percent of all Reston residents live within 10 minutes’ walking distance of a park, compared to only 55 percent of Americans nationwide. The study suggests that usage of a park increases by 400 percent when a family lives inside that 10-minute distance. (ParkServe)
Lake Anne Elementary Wins Outdoor Learning Grant – Lake Anne Elementary in Reston has been awarded more than $4,000 in grants to fund student-driven projects to restore, expand and protect the outdoor learning garden on its campus. The grant money is being provided by Eco-Rise. The school district said priorities for the grant money will be restoring raised beds, providing soil for vegetable beds, creating a garden path, and purchasing garden tools. The Lake Anne students won a competition for the grant money by filming videos explaining what they would like to do with the money if they won. (Fairfax County Public Schools)
Reston Runner Describes Conquering Boston Marathon in Freezing Cold, Wind and Rain – Kim Isler, an employee at Reston’s Potomac River Running store, recently wrote about her experience taking on the Boston Marathon in 20- to 30-degree temperatures, with fierce winds and driving rain–the coldest on record for the race in nearly 30 years. While she admits she was at first happy to hear temps would be so low, so she wouldn’t overheat while running, she said the biting cold winds and icy rain in her face proved to be a bigger obstacle than she had counted on. Nevertheless, as runner after runner dropped out of the race due to the harsh conditions, Isler describes how she persevered and finished the race. (Potomac River Running Blog)
File Photo: Falcon Ridge Run
See ‘Nosferatu’ With Live Music Tonight — Get into the Halloween Eve spirit with a showing of F. W. Murnau’s spooky film “Nosferatu,” based upon the 1897 novel, Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” The film will be enhanced with live musical accompaniment by Tom Teasley. Plus, if you come dressed as Dracula, you will receive a special Halloween surprise. The showing is part of the 2017 Washington West Film Festival and is sponsored by the Reston Community Center. The film begins at 7:30 p.m. at CenterStage in RCC Hunter’s Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Road. All ages are welcome. [Reston Community Center]
Meeting Thursday About Future of Hook Road Recreation Area — Residents are invited to a meeting Thursday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. about the future of the Hook Road Recreation Area. Members of the Reston Association staff and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will be on hand to discuss and solicit feedback on ideas for the park facility’s usage and more. This meeting is one in a series of community engagement meetings the two groups will be hosting this season on the matter. The meeting will take place at the Lake House, 11450 Baron Cameron Ave. Questions and written feedback can be sent to [email protected] [Reston Association]
Reston Apartment Ransacked While Residents Were Out — Police were called to a home in the 11900 Winterthur Road around 2 p.m. Wednesday after the residents returned home to find someone was in their apartment. The suspect managed to flee before police arrived. The residents said nothing appeared to be stolen, but there was “obvious damage” from the home being ransacked. Police are still searching for the person or persons responsible. [Reston Patch]
Town Hall Meeting Wednesday About Lake Fairfax Master Plan Revision — The Fairfax County Park Authority invites residents to come to a town hall meeting Wednesday to hear ideas for improvements to Lake Fairfax Park’s Master Plan, and offer feedback or ask questions. Lake Fairfax Park dates back to 1979 and is home to the popular Water Mine Swimmin’ Hole water park, campgrounds, the lake, walking trails and more. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, Nov. 1 at South Lakes High School, Lecture Hall 333, 11400 South Lakes Dr. Questions and feedback can also be sent to [email protected] before Dec. 1. [Fairfax County Government]
At Thursday night’s meeting, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted to explore amending the association’s covenants to clarify and strengthen rules surrounding whether residents are permitted to rent out their homes temporarily to visitors, such as through sites like Airbnb.com.
Airbnb has become a hot topic throughout Fairfax County over the past year. County officials have sought to remind residents of the laws regarding short-term rentals of less than 30 days. Special permits must be obtained for operating one’s home much like a bed and breakfast, and for the most part, only single-family homes are allowed to do so, and not attached homes such as apartments, condos or townhomes.
Reston Association has previously mandated that, as part of the county, residents follow the county laws. However, the RA has been receiving some complaints about residents that have been renting out their homes on Airbnb anyway.
In particular, several letters have been received about a home on Trails Edge Lane. Complaints have alleged that not only have the owners been renting out parts of the home for as little as one day–at rates as low as $28 per night–but they have been exceeding maximum safe occupancy limits, sometimes putting multiple renters to a room, and renting out three to four rooms in a single home at the same time.
According to RA documents, the current owners purchased the home in question in January of 2016, and the complaints began just a few months later.
At first, documents indicate RA staff spoke with the homeowners, who agreed to abide by the county’s rules and only rent out the home for periods of longer than 30 days, which would not violate the county’s rules against “short-term” rentals. Read More
Ganesan immediately took his new seat at the directors’ table after the ballots were counted.
Ganesan is president of the Reston Citizens Association and also heads the group that applied to conduct the audit of the Tetra/Lake House purchase and renovations.
“I’m here for the same reason many of you are; I want to be a volunteer,” Ganesan said when addressing the board just before the ballots were cast. “And I feel this is the right time for me to step up and serve.”
Ganesan said he feels community involvement is crucial now, perhaps more so than ever.
“I think RA is at a critical juncture at this stage, as it is attempting to inspire renewed trust and confidence with the community.”
He added that through his experience as a CFO, he is familiar with taking recommendations from experts and moving them past the “talking” phase and into the implementation phase, which he thinks will be a valuable skill he can bring to the table.
“I also bring a lot of corporate finance experience, which is something I think could be of great help when it comes to balancing capital investment projects,” he added, explaining that the “balancing” part means not “analyzing something to death,” while also being sure to follow correct procedures and being as transparent as possible, which is crucial when dealing with public money.
“I think I can help build bridges with the public community, as the CFO of a public corporation,” he concluded.
Mike Werner, who ran against Ganesan for the treasurer’s seat, continues to serve on the Reston Association Finance Committee, which he has been a member of since 2014.
Image: Sridhar Ganesan via Twitter
South Lakes Student is Conference Player for Second Year — Matt Hughes has been named Liberty Conference Player of the Year for the second year in a row. Hughes largely credits the skills he honed with the Herndon-Reston Youth Lacrosse team. Hughes and his fellow HRYL alum, Dodson Piotrowski, were first-team All-Conference selections this year. Hughes has committed to playing Division 1 lacrosse at Mercer next year. [Fairfax Times]
Reston Firm Has Innovative Mobile Tech — After filing for bankruptcy in 2012, Reston-based LightSquared has re-emerged as a strong contender in the mobile services industry. With a new name, Ligado, the firm has promised to deliver the world’s first wireless network using ground-based airwaves, which many in the industry had long considered “unsuitable” for cellular use. Taking it one step further, Ligado says it also plans to join that capability with a satellite hovering above North America. The pairing is expected to benefit both industrial commercial customers as well as the average smartphone user. [The Ledger]
Reston Men Nabbed for Fishing Violations — Two Reston men were among nine persons caught by Maryland Natural Resources Police and charged with catching and hiding more than 150 undersized bass fish in a prohibited area — Fishing Creek Bridge in Dorchester County, Maryland — between April 27 to May 4. All nine have been charged with catching more than their share and keeping undersized bass. Each charge can carry a fine of up to $1,500. [WMDT-TV]
Garrett Skinner comes to Reston Association from Atkins, a global design, engineering and project management firm with offices in Maryland and Virginia, where he served as a senior project manager and office leader. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Geography from the University of Maryland as well as certifications in floodplain management and project management.
RA voted to create the new Capital Improvement Planning and Projects department in order to keep a closer eye on community projects and ensure they are completed on time and within budget, particularly after many members criticized the handling of the recent Lake House project.
Skinner will join RA’s nine-member senior management team and oversee three employees in the department. The three employees are current RA employees who have been moved to positions in the new department.
Skinner said his goals for the coming years include collaborating with the RA’s CEO and CFO to “streamline proposal solicitation and contract review methods to establish a more efficient and effective procurement process.”
RA said Skinner will also work to identify more opportunities to use sustainable building materials during repair, maintenance and renovation projects, and planning stream restoration projects.
Skinner will also be tasked with helping to improve the quality and optimize the use of existing facilities for residents.
CEO Cate Fulkerson said she looks forward to Skinner starting work, and that she thinks he will bring much-needed expertise to RA.
“Garrett brings to the association the required project planning and management skills that have been lacking in an organization responsible for managing a portfolio of community assets worth over $45 million,” Fulkerson said in a Friday statement. “He understands the importance of community engagement and, more importantly, the need to present thorough, clear and concise information on project status and expenses.”
Skinner will begin work on Monday.
Photo of Garrett Skinner courtesy of Reston Association
Emke comes to Reston Now from his previous position as editor of The Journal, a print newspaper in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He is a native of Chautauqua County, New York.
Emke’s move to Reston Now means some big changes for him — both in the busy hustle and bustle of the D.C. Metro area, and with the switch from print to hyperlocal digital news.
That’s all part of what intrigues Emke about his new position, though.
“I’m really excited about the change of scenery,” he said.
Since starting with Reston Now on Jan. 2, Emke has been diving right in, getting familiar with the issues that matter most to Restonians, and talking with many local movers and shakers.
Emke said what he has found is a place where technology, development and big business meet, but that still feels similar to the smaller town he comes from — because the people of Reston care deeply about their community. In just his first few days, he has tackled issues that people in Reston really care about, such as new parking fees at Reston Town Center and residents’ relationship with Reston Association.
“It’s a big community and everybody pays into it, so everyone has a hand in what goes on, and has opinions about how their money is spent,” Emke said. “I’m very interested in learning more about the relationship between Reston Association and its members.”
As for Reston Town Center, Emke said he has spent a lot of time in the past shopping and dining in the area, so he can understand how the new parking fees might affect locals.
All in all, Emke said he’s excited to be in Reston, and has enjoyed the people he has met and talked with so far as he gets acclimated to his new role.
“Everyone I’ve talked to so far has been very helpful and welcoming as I move into this new position,” he said. “I look forward to meeting many more people in the days and weeks to come.”
Emke added that he hopes people will feel comfortable getting to know him and sharing the local issues that are important to them.
“I want to tell as many stories as possible that are important to residents,” he said. “I hope the people of Reston feel comfortable helping me to do that.”
Dave Emke can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @emkedave.
Route 7 Getting Upgrades to Connect Communities — The widening of Route 7 will also include new trails and a tunnel that will connect Tysons Corner to Reston. The plans apply to a seven-mile stretch from the Dulles Toll Road to Route 193, and work is expected to be completed by 2025. [Greater Greater Washington]
Two Area Schools Get New Principals — Fairfax County Public Schools welcomed five new principals this week. Among the schools to receive them are Herndon High School and Herndon Elementary. Herndon High welcomes Elizabeth Noto and Herndon Elementary welcomes Teresa Fennessy. [FCPS News]
Track Work Will Disrupt Weekend Metro Service — Repairs to Metro tracks will mean disrupted Silver Line service this weekend, including some routes being replaced by shuttle buses. In addition, WMATA says Metro will shut down and buses will replace the Orange, Blue and Silver Line routes in downtown D.C. the weekend of Feb. 4-5. [WMATA News]
County’s Legislative Delegation to Hold Public Hearing — Fairfax County’s delegation to Virginia’s General Assembly will hold a hearing for public comment Saturday at 9 a.m. at the County Government Center (12000 Government Center Pkwy.). Speakers who wish give opinions on issues the General Assembly is likely to consider in its upcoming session can register in advance. [Fairfax County]
Virginia Macy’s Stores on the Chopping Block — After disappointing holiday sales, Macy’s announced this week that it will close more than 60 stores nationwide. On the list of closures are the stores in Alexandria and Lynchburg. In addition, the Tysons Corner store’s building has been sold, but Macy’s said it plans to keep the location open by leasing it back. [CNBC]
The Reston Runners have ended their tradition of gathering at Reston Town Center, citing parking fees that went into effect this week as the reason.
The local running club has long met at the Potomac River Running Store on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to begin their group runs. The store has served as something of a flagship for the group, as it even sells Reston Runners gear and gives discounts to members. The store also regularly sponsors some of the club’s events, such as the annual Runner’s Marathon of Reston.
However, now that Reston Town Center has begun charging for weekday parking, the club says it feels the fees would deter members from coming out. In response, they have decided to move their meeting location to Reston Sport and Health in Isaac Newton Square.
“For decades, Reston Town Center was a welcoming place where the community could gather freely,” Reston Runners member Dennis Hays told Reston Now. “We are saddened this is no longer the case.”
Hays said the club looks forward to continuing to partner with PRR for other events.
PRR has said it will validate one hour of parking to weekday customers who spend at least $20 in the store, and recently appealed to locals to continue supporting businesses such as theirs.
“We hope you’ll continue to support PR and shop local so that we can continue to create and expand the local walking and running community,” the store said on social media this week. “Getting active transforms lives — it would be a shame for parking get in the way.”
Hays said the club looks forward to its new partnership with Reston Sport and Health, and invites all to come out for their runs, scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. in the new location.
“All runners and walkers in the community, or just visiting the area, are welcome to participate,” he said.
Photo via RestonRunners.org
FCPS’ previous superintendent, Dr. Karen Garza tendered her resignation in September and closed out her tenure in December. She took a job as the CEO of an Ohio education nonprofit, even though she had recently signed a four-year contract extension.
Now, FCPS has hired the firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to conduct a formal search for Garza’s replacement. Dr. Steven Lockard, who had been the district’s deputy superintendent, is serving as interim superintendent.
As part of its search, HYA announced this week it will hold a series of 10 community forums to encourage local residents to voice their opinions.
“[We want to] allow Fairfax County residents to share their ideas and feedback on the characteristics they are seeking in a new superintendent,” representatives from the district and HYA said.
The closest forum to Reston will take place Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 11 a.m. in the Herndon Council Chambers.
The complete schedule of meetings is as follows:
- Monday, Jan. 9, 1 p.m., Gatehouse Administration Center, room 1600, 8115 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church
- Monday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m., South County High School, 8501 Silverbrook Road, Lorton
- Tuesday, Jan. 10, 12:30 p.m., Virginia Hills Center Library, 6520 Diana Lane, Alexandria
- Wednesday, Jan. 11, noon, Providence District Office and Community Center, multipurpose room 2, 3001 Vaden Drive, Fairfax
- Wednesday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m., Mount Vernon High School Little Theater, 8515 Old Mount Vernon Road, Alexandria
- Tuesday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m., Herndon Council Chambers, 765 Lynn Street, Herndon
- Tuesday, Jan. 17, 1 p.m., Burke Centre Library, 5935 Freds Oak Road, Burke
- Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7 p.m., Stuart High School Little Theater, 3301 Peace Valley Lane, Falls Church
- Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7 p.m., Chantilly High School Lecture Hall, 4201 Stringfellow Road, Chantilly
- Wednesday, Jan. 18, 7 p.m., Langley High School Auditorium, 6520 Georgetown Pike, McLean
In addition, a survey is expected to be launched on the district’s website Monday.
Fairfax County Expert Talks Coyotes — Coyotes can be found all over Fairfax County, certified wildlife specialist Katherine Edwards says in a video aiming to educate residents. Edwards says coyotes generally avoid humans, but they may prey on small domestic animals like cats and dogs. The biologist says it’s best to avoid keeping pets outdoors for long periods of time, and to keep their food indoors. [Fairfax County/YouTube]
South Lakes Sports Back in Full Swing — South Lakes High School’s winter break is over and Seahawks sports teams are back in action. This week, the basketball teams engaged in several contests with McLean High. The varsity boys team scored a 73-45 win, while the JV boys dropped a close one, 47-45. The boys freshman team also lost, 59-51. The JV girls team scored a victory, however, winning 47-36 in overtime. [South Lakes Athletics]
County Offers Tips For Winterizing Your Car — With winter weather in the forecast, Fairfax County offered tips this week for preparing your car for the cold and snow. Among them are maintaining an adequate level of antifreeze; making sure heaters, defrosters and hazard lights are in top working order; and choosing tires with good tread for navigating snowy or icy roads. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]
SB 893, being proposed by Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), was officially filed for consideration Dec. 20. It would make it “unlawful for any licensed manufacturer, licensed importer or licensed dealer to sell, deliver or transfer any handgun to any person… unless the handgun is accompanied by a warning, in conspicuous and legible type in capital letters printed on a label affixed to the gun and on a separate sheet of paper included within the packaging enclosing the handgun, that handguns should be locked and kept away from children…”
The only exception in the bill is for firearms that are “accompanied by a locking mechanism,” though it also allows leeway for law enforcement and governmental agencies.
Howell and Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) co-hosted their annual Town Hall with locals Dec. 19, in an effort to hear citizens’ thoughts on issues they and other Virginia lawmakers are proposing. Among the issues discussed at the forum were rights for same-sex couples and former felons, and punishment for marijuana offenses.
This year’s 30-day session is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Jan. 11.