Reston, VA

A new audit from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission has found a dozen items that Metro needs to correct as soon as possible and before the opening of Silver Line Phase 2.

Many of the items are related to the lack of guidance and training for employees on a new structural inspection manual. Additionally, the audit also says Metrorail does not review contracted inspectors’ credentials or qualifications thoroughly enough.

In all, how Metro currently handles structural inspections creates “the risk that safety issues could be misidentified or slip through the cracks.”

Another issue is that Metrorail has yet to provide load ratings for its elevated structures, meaning it’s unclear the size and weight limit of trains and equipment that can safely traverse a bridge or station. This creates a risk that the structures “could be inadvertently overloaded,” according to the audit.

The audit makes the conclusion that all of these issues “demonstrates a separate significant, ongoing problem facing Metrorail: siloed departments that do not fully coordinate on work instructions, materials or procedures.”

All aspects of Metro are audited over a three-year cycle, but the structural inspection process was audited now “due to other othersight work that identified concerns,” a WMSC spokesperson tells Reston Now.

Metrorail has 45 days to submit corrective action plans for the issues to the safety commission.

Beyond that, the timeline isn’t clear of when these required changes will actually take place.

The WMSC spokesperson also tells Reston Now that while some of these items are “relatively straight forward” others, like proper training, could take more time.

When reached for comment, a Metro spokesperson wrote Reston Now via email that they are addressing the issues:

Metro appreciates the efforts of the WMSC in completing this audit, especially the acknowledgement of the substantial progress that Metro has made with our structural assessment and maintenance programs. We require inspection of bridges and related structures at least every two years, more frequently in some instances, to ensure structural integrity and the safety of the riding public.

In addition to inspection and maintenance programs, Metro is investing in an aggressive capital program to ensure the state of good repair of our elevated structures, including addressing priority projects. As we review the findings of this audit and develop our responses, we remain committed to continuous improvement of our program and enhancing the safety of the system.

All of this has left the status and timeline of Silver Line Phase 2, which includes the opening of Reston Town Center Station, Herndon Station, and four other stations extending into Northern Virginia, up in the air.

Over the last several months, a number of audits and reports have called out Metro and have threatened to delay the openings.

In the fall, a WMSC audit reported that Metro’s Rail Operations Control Center is a “toxic workplace” with “racial and sexual comments, harassment, and other unprofessional behavior.”

In September, a report from the Metro’s Office of Inspector General found 342 cracks in concrete panels at a number of Silver Lane Phase 2 stations. This was due to the use of faulty materials, read the report.

As of last month, Phase 2 could still open by the fall this year, but that’s at the earliest.

Reston Now followed up with the Metro spokesperson about an updated timeline for the opening of Silver Line Phase 2, but has yet to receive an answer as of publication.

Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

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Monday, Jan 25

  • The Nields Livestream Concert (8 p.m.) – Local folk band the Nields recently released their 20th album and they are celebrating by performing a livestream concert from Jammin Java in Vienna. Known for their songs being inspired by headlines, tickets are free but donations are welcomed.

Tuesday, Jan 26

  • Treasure Hunting at Home (11 a.m. to 12 p.m) – The Reston Association is hosting a virtual appraisal roadshow, where residents can show off their family heirlooms to see if they truly have a price. Each family can present one item – like jewelry, coins, timepiece, porcelain, or artwork – and experts will explain their origins and their monetary worth.

Wednesday, Jan 27

  • Summer Camp in a Bag (12 p.m. to 2 p.m.) – Due to COVID-19, the Reston Summer Camp Expo isn’t being held this year. But that doesn’t mean families can’t dream of sunshine and kids getting out of the house. Pick up a swag bag full of summer camp information and fun surprises at the Reston Community Center at Hunter Woods from January 25 to 30.

Thursday, Jan 28 

  • Queen’s Gambit (4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) – Inspired by the popular Netflix show, local Ashley Xing joins the Fairfax County Public Library for a history of women in chess. Xing was a U.S. representative to the World Youth Chess Championships and founder of the Tyson-Pimmit library’s chess team.

Friday, Jan 29

  • Winter Wanderland (6 p.m.) – Take a socially distant wander through ice sculptures in the Village at Leesburg. There’s a new ice theme every week, but visitors have to guess what it is. Correctly doing so gets you entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card at a local store. If there’s poor weather, check social media for updates to the schedule.

Saturday, Jan 30 

  • Dear COVID Poetry Slam (6-8 p.m.) – Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia is partnering with Busboys and Poets for a poetry slam and open mic. Here’s a chance to get thoughts and feelings about COVID off your chest. Tickets are free, but donations are welcome. NBC4’s Drew Wilder is the guest emcee.

Photo via Helena1962/Pixabay

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Going to school at Terraset Elementary in the late 1970s was sort of like being in the movie Star Wars.

A steel latticework topped with 13,000 square feet of solar panels covered the main courtyard of the school, at times creating eerie-looking shadows.

Spiraling concrete staircases looked out of this world.

The building itself was built into a side of a hill with the roof covered with a five foot layer of dirt, giving an appearance of being remains of a lost civilization.

“My memories of the architecture was that it was very futuristic,” says Kristina Alcorn, who attended the sixth grade at Terrset in 1979. “This wasn’t very long after Star Wars had come out… so, I’m sure some of our games running around the playground involved Princess Leia.”

Terraset Elementary School at 11411 Ridge Heights Road was completed in 1977 with the intention of thematically matching Reston’s ahead-of-its-time aesthetic.

“In a lot of ways, Terraset fits in with Reston as a whole,” says Alex Campbell, executive director of the Reston Museum. “Taking a chance, trying something new, thinking ahead.”

Terraset was specifically designed with the 1970s energy crisis in mind. It was one of the first solar energy powered schools in the country. The school was also built into the hill in hopes that the dirt covering would provide natural insulation and cut fuel costs.

The name “Terraset” actually means “set in Earth.”

Then, there was the large array of solar panels, which were paid for by a Saudi Arabian prince.

When the school got turned down for a grant by the US government, Fairfax County school system turned to Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia. The prince provided a $650,000 grant to the school for the school’s solar and heating system.

Fahd would later become King and, in 1985, President Ronald Reagan toasted him at a state dinner for providing financial help to the Reston elementary school.

At the school’s dedication ceremony in May 1977, Fahd was joined by another Saudi prince, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in taking a tour of the school. It was acknowledged that it was odd that a prince from an oil-rich country would so publicly support an American solar-powered project.

“Why . . . would any Saudi do anything that could conceivably compete with oil?,” Saud said at the dedication, according to the Washington Post. “We are very much aware of the finite nature of many natural resources. Even though we continue to find additional oil deposits in our country, we know that there is an eventual limit to what we can produce. One of the sources of energy that we expect to utilize as our oil production declines, is solar energy.”

But the design had major flaws.

Most notably, the solar panels were constructed with Saudi Arabia’s climate in mind, which is far different from Reston’s climate.

“[The solar panels] didn’t deal very well with the change in seasons,” says Campbell. The panels kept having leaks and cracks.

Then, there were the icicles.

“There were these huge icicles that would form on them in the winter,” says Alcorn, who is also on the Reston Historic Trust and Museum’s Board of Directors. “You’d be waiting for your bus down below, watching these huge icicles, and wondering if they were going to hit you or the bus.”

In 1986, less than a decade after being completed and with maintenance becoming unmanageable, the solar panels were turned off. In 1991, the panels were taken down.

It wasn’t a complete disaster, however. The school ended up using about a quarter less energy than other comparable Fairfax County schools during the nine years the solar panels were in operation.

Today, Terraset Elementary remains the educational home to about 600 students.

While there are no longer solar panels (which makes it currently ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places), the school still very much remains buried under dirt.

While best-laid plans rarely work out, Terraset proves that it’s at least worth trying.

“It was an example of that spirit of ingenuity and hope for the future to solve problems,” says Alcorn. “And not be afraid of sometimes failing.”

Photos courtesy of Terraset Elementary

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Due to construction delays, the Herndon Town Council has to approve a special exemption for plans to move forward on the building of a telecommunications tower on 525 Grove Street.

Originally approved in April 2019, the monopole was to be built by the telecommunications company T-Mobile.

However, both the pandemic and a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint last April, has prevented construction from even beginning.

A condition of the April 2019 agreement was that a final building inspection needed to be completed within 18 months. In September 2020, T-Mobile requested the extension and special exemption.

In October, the company submitted their architecture plans to build a monopole that’s between 120 to 125 feet tall enclosed by a 15 feet by 100 foot long ground equipment facility.

The structure would butt up against the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, be “minimally visible” from Grove Street, and not interfere with residential properties. The site is also already being used by an electrical substation.

This is also a good site for the monopole, according to T-Mobile’s application, because there’s a need for cell service congestion in the area.

Overall, the plans have not changed since the initial April 2019 agreement and the tower will have a similar design to the one likely to be built near Herndon High School.

The Town Council staff supports the approval of the special exemption, which would provide an extension of six months and expire on April 23, 2021.

The exemption was discussed by the Town Council earlier this week at a work session and will be voted on at Tuesday, Jan 26 public session.

Photo via handout/Google Maps

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Arlington-based MakeOffices is shutting down all of its local locations, including their offices at Reston Town Center.

The news about MakeOffices closing down was first reported by Washington Business Journal.

Last week, members of the coworking company began receiving notifications at many locations that the co-working spaces would be closed.

Reston Now spoke to representatives at the Reston location, which opened in 2015, and an employee confirmed that they would be closing as well within the next three months.

While the deal isn’t fully done yet, another coworking operator may move into the MakeOffices space in Reston Town Center, an employee said.

In an email to Reston Now, MakeOffices spokesperson said they are closing but ‘still in the process of reorganizing.'”

MakeOffices opened its first location in Rosslyn in 2012 and has since expanded to 14 locations in Northern Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia.

The Clarendon location is its flagship, opening in 2016 with 40,000 square feet of space and 135 private offices. The Reston location is similar in size.

Photo via Google Maps

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Tuesday, Jan 19

  • Mr (Fictional) President (6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) – Hail to the fictional chief. A day before a real president gets inaugurated, participate in a virtual conversation with actor Martin Sheen who played President Bartlet in the NBC television drama West Wing. Journalist Ken Walsh will be asking questions about how fictional depictions of government have impacted the real thing and why we view our national leaders the way we do. This event is hosted by the Smithsonian Associates.

Wednesday, Jan. 20

  • Bull Run Festival of Lights  (5:30 p.m.) – While this annual show of glimmery holiday lights was extended well into January, this is the final day for the season. So, bring your family, talk a socially distant walk, and appreciate this extra little bit of joy.

Thursday, Jan. 21

  • Fiber Art  (9 a.m.) – At Reston Community Center in Lake Anne, five local fiber artists are displaying contemporary quilts. Each artist has a different approach, but uses fabric and thread as their medium. Located in the Jo Anne Rose Gallery and runs through the end of February.

Friday, Jan. 22

  • Date Night (5 p.m.) – The Winery at Bull Run has all the pieces for a perfect outdoor but warm date night. A package includes a pair of rocking chairs around a fire pit, two glasses of wine in logos that are yours to keep, and one cozy blanket to snuggle up in together.

Saturday, Jan. 23

  • Hunt for Dinosaurs (1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.) – There are dinosaurs on the loose at Claude Moore Park in Sterling! Join a park naturalist in the search. Afterward, warm up by a campfire and toast some marshmallows (provided, individually wrapped, and Halel available upon request).

Sunday, Jan. 24

  • Notes From the Field screening and Q&A (3 p.m.) – Playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith (best known for her role as Dr. Nancy McNally in the tv show West Wing) screens her new film “Notes From the Field” about systemic racism in the American justice system. Afterwards, she will appear virtually for a question and answer session.

Photo from distelAPPArath/Pixabay

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A 50-member church proposed for 459 Herndon Parkway is nearing approval by the town of Herndon’s planning commission.

In November, Christ Fellowship Church applied for a special exception to take up residence in suites 7 and 8A at a facility owned by Parkway Crossing Condominiums.

A special exception is needed because religious institutions are not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts. 459 Herndon Parkway lies in the office and light industrial zoning district.

However, parking concerns delayed a vote in December until later this month.

Earlier this week, though, planning commission staff said they’d recommend approving the application, provided certain conditions are met. Many on the commission also seemed to be in agreement that once the special exception is up for a vote, they’d vote to approve.

Concerns were brought up that discussion of parking logistics should actually be between the church and the condo association, rather than be subjected to a debate during the town’s planning commission meeting.

In mid-November, the condo’s Board of Directors voted to begin a study to explore ways to relax parking restrictions on first-floor condo units. This could open up more spots for the church.

That study is ongoing, according to the planning commission staff.

As for certain conditions, prohibiting daycare or school use and limiting the attendees to 44 at a time are the recommendations of the staff.

The church would be allowed to submit separate special exception applications for both of these in the future.

Christ Fellowship Church has been part of Herndon for almost 30 years and was worshipping at Arts Herndon, a local art gallery 750 Center Street. Currently, they are worshipping virtually.

The church has approximately 50 members, no full-time staff, and one part-time staff.

Photo via the handout/Town of Herndon Planning Commission 

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Delayed since mid-December, the Reston Association’s project to inspect and repair Lakes Audubon, Anne, Newport, and Thoreau dams will finally get under way later this month.

In a statement posted to social media, Reston Association will start work on January 25 on the trash racks and riser structure in Lake Audubon. This requires lowering the lake on January 21 and 22, a foot and a half to two feet a day. That work is expected to take a week.

Then, on February 1, the organization will draw down the lake again, this time to a total of eight feet, to allow for a full inspection of the dam infrastructure. It will be drawn down no more than a foot a day, so this work could talk up to one and a half weeks.

Due to this, Lakes Anne, Newport, and Thoreau will also be lowered to prevent spillage.

Later that month, February 15, more dam inspections will be done. This is expected to take until February 24. Once finished, the lake will be allowed to refill naturally which could take up to a few months to happen.

Reston Association asks all residents to provide slack in their moor lines so that boats can lower safely with the water level. The lake bottom will be “deep mud” so do not attempt to walk on it, RA advises.

Every year, the Reston Association performs these inspections and repairs. They are a state requirement, Chris Schumaker, Director of Capital Projects, tells Reston Now via email.

The project was initially pushed due to “delays both in the fabrication and delivery of key materials for the Lake Audubon trash rack and valve replacements,” writes Shumaker.

Photo via Reston Association/Facebook

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With Herndon High School’s phase two renovations now completed, the school has moved to phase three. This includes renovations to the auditorium, music, performing, and fine arts rooms, auxiliary gym, and wrestling and gymnastics room.

All of the work should be completed this summer and be ready for students when they are back in the building full-time next school year, assistant principal Jim Hannon tells Reston Now.

The main gym was part of phase two renovations and that was finished late last year, complete with new bleachers. December, when a limited crowd was allowed to attend a basketball game, was the first time they were used.

Work has moved at a decent clip with students and full staff not in the building due to COVID-19 restrictions.

However, Hannon says it’s been “a little bit of a wash” in terms of construction moving any faster. He says that many of the areas being renovated are in isolated areas anyway and the number of construction workers are more limited to social distancing requirements.

After phase three, renovations will begin on the tennis courts, adding additional parking, stadium press box and concession stand, and the food prep area of the cafeteria. That’s the final phase of renovations that first began more than two years ago.

In all, the renovation project is adding more than 138,000 square feet to the more than five-decade old high school building, expanding it by about a third. It will have a capacity of 2,500 students.

Hannon says that all of that work should be done by summer 2022.

Photo courtesy of Jim Hannon

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Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) is officially changing its name to Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art.

The announcement came at a virtual press conference with partners and media earlier today.

“The name [GRACE]… really no longer align and communicate about who we are,” said Robert Goudie, Chair of the Board of Directors of the non-profit community arts center. “When we did our branding exercise internally, words we came up with to describe who we are were ‘provocateur, ‘risk-taker,’ ‘disruptor,’ ’emergent.’ Those are not words… people think about with ‘GRACE,” which is a more specific term, classic, timeless.”

The change was also motivated by the fact that audiences have grown beyond the Reston community. The center’s largest audience on social media, is D.C., Reston, and New York City.

The new name comes from the term for rock fragments ejected into the air by an erupting volcano.

“For us, tephra is representative of that combustibility of the creative process,” said Jaynelle Hazard, Executive Director and Curator. “And the generation of ideas that the arts can provide.”

Founded in 1974, the non-profit houses its gallery and art space at Reston Town Center. Known for its modern and contemporary art, the center is also the long-time host of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. After being first postponed and, then, canceled in 2020, it’s back on for September 2021.

It’s been a year of change for the nearly five-decade-old arts center. In January 2020, its executive director and curator announced her resignation to take on a similar job in the District. In March, Hazard was named the new executive director and immediately had to confront challenges brought on by the pandemic. This includes exhibit cancellations, transitioning to online, and fundraising challenges.

For now, the gallery will remain closed until further notice. But exhibits are expected to open on Feb. 27 with at least a virtual option for viewing.

Additionally, Tephra staff says that the organization will not be moving from Reston or its current space in Reston Town Center. Particularly, with the Reston Town Center Metro station still scheduled to open later this year.

“We are not leaving Reston,” says Goudie. “We were born here. We live here and will continue to live here. We are not going anywhere.”

Full press release below:

Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE), a 501c3 non-profit located in Reston, Virginia, has announced a significant rebrand, introducing the organization as Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA). The repositioning emerged as the institution’s programs, audience, and impact continued to evolve over the past several years, and the original name and acronym no longer aligned with the organization’s reach and vision.

Tephra ICA is a non-profit, non-collecting institution committed to promoting innovative contemporary art and thinking. Leading with curiosity and care, the organization is a catalyst, generator, and advocate for visual arts. The institution is devoted to celebrating artists and values the power of art to broaden and shift perspectives, start difficult conversations, and consider alternative ideas.

“Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art reflects my vision of fostering meaningful dialogue, contextualizing artists’ work in the historical canon, and presenting critically engaged, experimental practices,” said Executive Director and Curator Jaynelle Hazard who was hired in March 2020. “The rebrand was well-underway when I joined the team last year, and I am now thrilled to publicly share this collaborative work and bring it to the finish line. What initially attracted me to GRACE, was its drive to continue expanding its presence and impact both regionally and nationally. I look forward to our growth and introducing forthcoming initiatives that will advance the organization.”

The word “tephra,” matter ejected from geothermal eruptions landing upon, nourishing, and changing the surrounding environment, emphasizes the institution’s belief in the combustibility of creativity and generation of ideas and growth that the arts can provide.

“A name change has been considered in the past, but, given how we and the region have changed and continue to grow, the timing now just felt right,” said Robert Goudie, the Board Chair. “We had terrific participation in the process from our supporters and partners, excellent professional guidance, and importantly have the unanimous support of our board and staff for this new name. We are only able to do this thanks to the incredible foundation put in place these past 47 years. The new name is as much a testament to our legacy as to our future.” Initial discussions for the rebrand began in 2018 with a series of conversations held with staff, supporters and partners, and board members working in tandem with external naming and visual design companies, as well as the organization’s pro bono outside counsel, DLA Piper.

Ruth Abrahams Design, the institution’s new visual identity is a balance between classic and contemporary, with a vibrant green accent color representing growth and regeneration. The logo’s design element illustrates a shift, signifying a change – a frame for a new way of looking, or a change in dimension.

Recent programs have made significant strides in gearing up for the organization’s next chapter, including the installation of the monumental, 50-ft, steel sculpture, Buoyant Force, by artist Sue Wrbican, located in Reston Town Square Park; building institutional partnerships such as the Moira Dryer exhibitions in concert with The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; and the forthcoming Laurel Nakadate exhibition and programming in conjunction with George Mason University.

Tephra ICA’s first headlining exhibition under the new brand will be a solo show with Puerto Rican and German light and space artist, Gisela Colón. The mutable, changeable qualities of Colón’s work nods towards an energy of constant fluctuation and growth. It is emblematic of the direction Tephra ICA is headed and reflects the institution’s values in adding to cross-cultural dialogue by contributing to the expanded perspectives of our time.

Photo courtesy of Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

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Monday, Jan. 11

  • Winter Walk of Lights (5:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.) – Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights in Vienna is now extended a few extra weeks to January 20. Take a socially distant walk through the glittery, wondrous light display.

Tuesday, Jan. 12

  • Family Karaoke (6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) – If you ever held dreams of you and your family traveling around in a colorful bus together singing songs like the Partridge Family, here’s your chance… well, sort of. Grab the mic and join the Fairfax County Public Library for virtual family karaoke. All singing abilities and ages welcome. So, you know, pick an appropriate song.

Wednesday, Jan. 13

  • Virtual Yoga (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.) – Start the day with mindfulness and meditation. Join this virtual yoga session led by Jennifer Eubanks, who runs a local yoga studio, through the Fairfax County Public Library.

Thursday, Jan. 14 

  • Women Who Lead Speaker Series (7 p.m. to 8 p.m.) – Hosted by the Junior League of Northern Virginia, this month’s features Gwendolyn Bingham. She’s a retired US Army 3-star General and was the first woman to hold a number of roles in the Army, including Quartermaster General. There will be time for questions and answers.

Friday, Jan 15

  • Pomegranate-themed oil painting workshop (Noon to 3 p.m.) – Join local artist Suzanne Lago Arthur for a one-day, three-hour oil painting class. Hosted every other month, January’s is themed around the seeded fruit pomegranate. While welcome to work in any media one prefers, the lesson is about oil painting.

Sunday, Jan 17

  • Audubon Afternoon (3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) – Hosted by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, learn about how birds stay warm.  Avian evolutionary ecologist Dr. Sahas Barve will lead this workshop which will perhaps provide some advice to us humans on how to stay warm on this winter’s afternoon.

Photo via Unsplash

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Construction on the long-anticipated new Fire and Reston Station 25 on Wiehle Avenue in Reston is coming along and is planning to be set for occupancy towards the end of 2021, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue’s assistant public information officer Bill Delaney tells Reston Now.

Late last month (Dec. 2020), the department tweeted that the station would be ready by the summer.

Delaney says the delay is due to extremely wet weather over the last few months and “other challenges that are normal parts of the building process.”

The initial timeline floated in 2018 for completion in spring 2021, so the project appears to be behind that original projected date.

The nearly $15 million project will more than double the size of the previous station. The 17,150 square-foot, two-story facility will have four bays. It will also be able to accommodate up to 20 firefighters per shift and six apparatus equipment including a new engine, according to the architect’s description. The station is targeting LEED Silver certification.

County plans from early in 2018 said the design would have a “contemporary look to compliment the urban feel of Reston Town Center.”

Funding for the new station was included on the Public Safety Bond Referendum approved by voters in 2015. Four other fire stations were included in the referendum for renovation or rebuild. The Woodlawn station in Alexandria is set to open for occupancy in the spring and Edsall Road station in Springfield is scheduled for next year.

The new Reston station is being built on the same site as the old station. That one was built in 1972 and last upgraded in 1986. It was only 2.5 bays and deemed “grossly undersized” for the community.

For comparison, Reston’s population in 1972 was about 16,000, according to the Reston Museum. In 2019, it was more than 61,000. 

In January 2020, fire fighters moved to a temporary station nearby at 1840 Cameron Glen Drive until the new station is ready for occupancy.

A Fairfax County official told the Patch at the time that the move would have no impact on the station’s ability to serve the community.

Demolition started in March on the old fire station.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

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At a virtual town hall on Wednesday night (Jan 6), Fairfax County Health Department Director Gloria Addo-Ayensu answered a number of questions about COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Most of the inquiries revolved around the timeline of the different phases and when certain groupings of people will be eligible to get the vaccine.

Right now, the county – like other neighboring localities – remains in phase 1a of distribution, meaning that frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities are the only ones currently eligible. This covers about 75,000 county residents in total.

In total, so far, Addo-Ayensu says that about half of those eligible in the county have been vaccinated so far.

Vaccinations are being done by the health department, Reston Hospital Center, INOVA hospitals, and at the long-term care facilities in partnership with CVS and Walgreen pharmacies.

But there have been challenges already in getting the vaccine.

For those not affiliated with a hospital, getting a vaccine requires making an appointment with the county by calling the health department. But residents have described being on hold for hours.

“We have a call system that’s been completely overwhelmed, people weren’t just getting through,” said Addo-Ayensu. “That’s just very unfortunate… We really do apologize for that inconvenience.”

She said that the county is working to fix this and starting on Monday (Jan 11), there’ll be an online system in place where folks can go to start the process of booking an appointment.

These complications are not unique to Fairfax County.

At a press conference on Wednesday (Jan 6), Virginia Governor Ralph Northam acknowledged that the state could be going faster in administering vaccines.

It’s unclear at this moment when, says Addo-Ayensu, when the county will move to phase 1b, which includes residents over the age of 75 and frontline essential workers.

“I don’t have an exact date of 1b, but I can say it’s going to happen very soon,” said Addo-Ayensu. “We haven’t gotten the green light to start vaccinating phase 1b just yet.”

When that does happen, though, it will be a very large effort.

More than 1.2 million Virginia residents are theoretically eligible for the vaccine in phase 1b, Addo-Ayensu said. Fairfax County is about 1/7th the population of the commonwealth, so quick math shows that about 171, 500 county residents could be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in phase 1b.

Then, there’s 1c which includes residents over 65, those with high-risk medical conditions, and remaining essential workers.

As for a timeline, it all depends on vaccine supply – which is being filtered down from the federal government to the state to the county.

“If we have sufficient vaccine… we could be going through 1a and 1b [in] March. And in spring, looking to do 1c and moving into the summer, doing the general public.”

Another important note is that, at this point, children are not being vaccinated due to the lack of data and studies.

Overall, Addo-Ayensu admits it’s going to be a challenge to provide all 1.17 million Fairfax County residents a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible.

“That’s quite a heavy lift,” she said.

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As reported yesterday, Fairfax County Police Department deployed officers to D.C. to assist law enforcement agencies in quelling the U.S. Capitol riots started by a mob of Trump supporters .

Reportedly more than 50 officers were injured, several seriously.

But no police officers from Fairfax County were among those that were injured seriously yesterday, a spokesperson for the police department tells Reston Now.

Arlington County Police Department as well sent officers to D.C. yesterday and also reported no serious injuries. ACPD also is sending officers today to help D.C. Police.

Meanwhile, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia was asked if residents in the region, particularly those in Fairfax and Arlington counties, should have concerns about similar incidents on Inauguration Day.

“That’s absolutely a fair question,” he said. “I pray that it will not take place.”

Warner said that to go into lockdown for major events and debates at the U.S. Capitol all the time going forward is not fair to those who live and work in the region. “That’s not the kind of country we are.”

He says that law enforcement needs a better plan and there needs to be responsible leadership in both parties. He thinks that will happen over the next two weeks.

“I have enormous confidence that we will get through this,” he said.

An FCPD spokesman told Reston Now its officers returned last night. So far, their assistance at the inauguration is not expected.

Photo via FCPD

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A new Reston Historic Resources Survey names ten area locations as “potentially eligible” for the National Register of Historic Places.

They include the Ring Road subdivision in North Reston, two area golf courses (Reston National and Hidden Creek), a number of 1960s-and-1970s-era housing clusters, and the Ken Bonner-designed residence on Stirrup Road.

The survey’s goal was to determine significant historic districts and buildings that were constructed during Reston’s prime development years – between 1961 and 1978. It was commissioned by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and conducted by Mary Hanbury of Hanbury Preservation Consulting, a historic preservation consulting firm out of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The survey covered all of Reston, except for the land within Lake Anne Historic District. This district is already on the National Register of Historic Places.

In a community meeting held last night (Jan 5), Hanbury explained that the survey and field work reconnessicance first began in December 2019. It took the better part of a year to conduct. She reviewed eight potential historic districts and 51 individual properties in Reston.

The survey consisted of photos, locational mapping, creating or finding site plans, and a brief written history of the location.

From this, she determined that ten locations were “potentially eligible” for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Potentially eligible” refers to the places that meet the requirements for eligibility for inclusion – meaning they are at least fifty years old (unless in exceptional circumstances), looks much like it did in the past, and has significant historical or architectural value.

However, it’s not up to Hanbury if it will be included on the National Register.

“I can not say that something is eligible for the National Register. That is something that the state department of historic resources also the national park service determines,” Hanbury explains. “But part of this as a professional is to say ‘this is something that I think is potentially eligible.’ Technically, I’m not in power to say that it is [eligible].”

The ten locations are:

  • The Hickory Cluster, a modernist group of densely-grouped townhouses designed by Charles Goodman who was hired by Robert Simon.
  • Waterview Cluster, one of the earliest subdivisions constructed as part of Simon’s plan for Reston. It was designed by Chloethiel Woodard Smith, who owned at one point the largest architecture firm run by a woman in the U.S.
  • Coleson Cluster, built in 1966 and also designed by Smith. The cluster is designed to be walkable and oriented towards public spaces, as opposed to private courtyards.
  • Mediterranean Villa Cluster, a rare example of residences designed by Robert W. Davis. He was much more known for hospitals and office buildings.
  • Golf Course Island Cluster, designed by Louis Sauer who worked and studied with famed architect Louis Kahn and notable urban planner Edmund Bacon (who happens to be Kevin Bacon’s father).
  • Ring Road subdivision, a mix of architecture and building styles focused on a single-family aesthetic that became popular throughout the area in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Wainwright Cluster, a grouping of dense townhouses oriented towards a common space acted as a model for Reston’s master plan.
  • Hidden Creek Golf Course and Reston National Golf Course, both designed by a golf-loving engineer Ed Ault. He became a prolific golf course architect who built over 200 golf courses across the east coast over his career.
  • 12146 Stirrup Road, designed by Ken Bonner and thought to be the first single-family residence built in Reston.

The survey also namechecks several locations that could be eligible once they hit the fifty year benchmark. They include the Atrium condominiums on Roger Bacon Drive, Sheraton Reston Hotel, and the Fairway Cluster. They all will hit their fiftieth birthday over the next few years.

Additionally, there are few places that the study determined merited “further study” ( including Lake Anne Gulf gas station, Fairway Apartments, and Cameron Crescent Apartments) as well as those that are “likely not eligible” due to significant changes that rendered them too different from when they were initially constructed.

Hanbury cautions that the National Register has very particular rules and regulations and is only one measure of historic importance.

“It is one that is commonly used and a good frame of reference,” said Hanbury. “But they are places that aren’t eligible… that are important and can be locally designated.”

After the presentation, a few members of the community spoke mostly commenting on other historical locations in Reston.

One community member asked why a number of golf courses were included considering that, in his understanding, are “environmental deserts” and were mostly used by “super affluent, white people.”

This comment received several retorts, notably that the golf courses were used by Reston’s diverse population and that local wildlife thrived there.

“The reason the falcons over at Reston Town Center have a place to hunt and eat is because of the open fairways that the Reston golf courses offer them,” said a citizen.

The survey will be used to determine what properties have historical value and should be nominated for historical designation.

It could also inform any future changes to Reston’s comprehensive plan, noted Fairfax County Board Supervisor Walter Alcorn of the Hunter Mill District.

“The report includes recommendations for future documentation and preservation efforts,” wrote Blake McDonald of Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources in an email to Reston Now. “[The department] hopes that Fairfax County will pursue some of these recommendations and we look forward to partnering with them on those efforts.

The public can continue to comment on the survey through January 10.

Photo courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources

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