Reston, VA

A new bill introduced by VA Del. Ken Plum of the 36th District would repeal mandatory jail sentences for second and subsequent misdemeanor larceny convictions.

Under current Virginia law, anyone who is convicted of a second misdemeanor larceny conviction is subjected to a mandatory jail sentence of at least 30 days (but not more than 12 months). A third misdemeanor larceny conviction is a Class 6 felony, punishable with at least a year in jail.

Misdemeanor, or petit larceny, is defined as theft of items under $1,000. The law was first passed more than 50 years ago. The bill passed the Virginia House of Delegates by a 52 to 45 vote with three delegates not voting.

If approved, Plum’s bill would change the mandatory jail sentences. Plum is a Democrat and a long-time delegate for a district that covers a large portion of Reston. He has a weekly opinion column on Reston Now where he discussed this very topic.

The bill would not repeal all punishments for petit larceny, simply not make a jail sentence mandatory on second and subsequent convictions.

Plum says he believes the current law works against people of color.

“What we’ve come to recognize is that laws are not just in Virginia. They’re not always appropriate to the severity of a crime versus punishment,” he says. “It works to the disadvantage of those people of color… or those disadvantaged by income or social status.”

He cites statistics and explanations from Justice Forward Virginia, a political action committee advocating for criminal justice reform in Virginia, to justify why he’s introduced this bill.

“Incarcerating someone for 5 years for stealing something worth less than $,1000 is facially unreasonable,” reads their website. “Whatever value we may place on the security of someone’s property, imprisoning someone for five years for shoplifting doesn’t make sense.”

Justice Forward Virginia also notes that this law disproportionately impacts those most vulnerable. This could mean those who suffer from mental illness, substance use disorders, or are homeless.

Plum agrees with this assessment.

“There are a lot of people who steal things because they don’t have enough to eat. They don’t have the kind of family support that they need and their last is related to survival,” he says.

He says severe penalties like those in current Virginia law are simply piling on folks that can least afford it.

The repealing of the law could also save the Commonwealth money.

According to HB 2290’s fiscal impact statement, approximately 1,000 cases were impacted by this law in the fiscal years of 2019 and 2020. Of those, 792 were sentenced to a jail term.

Prisoners cost money but Plum says that was not a major factor in the bill’s consideration.

“We save a few bucks, but mainly what we do is we save lives of people who get caught up in the criminal justice system,” he says.

One of those voting against the bill is Delegate Mark Cole of the 88th District, which covers parts of Fauquier, Spotsylvania, and Strafford Counties.

In an email to Reston Now, Cole said he voted against the bill because it lessens the punishment for repeat offenders.

“If you are going to give someone a break, it should be a first offender that may be unlikely to re-offend, not a repeat offender,” he wrote.

The bill has been referred to the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee.

Photo via David Clarke/Unsplash

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A new Vietnamese and pho restaurant is opening later this month at Franklin Farm Village Center in Herndon.

The family-owned Pho VietFresh at 13340 Franklin Farm Rd. is projected to open in mid to late February, according to owner Tam Nguyen, although there’s no set date at the moment. Inspections and acquiring permits from the county is still being delayed due to the pandemic.

Nguyen says owning a restaurant has been a family dream ever since they immigrated to Herndon from Vietnam in 2008. His parents have worked at other area Vietnamese restaurants. After graduating from University of Virginia, Nguyen returned home and convinced his parents it was time to open a business of their own.

“Back in Vietnam, we’d have a lot of celebrations and my mom would always cook,” says Nguyen. “She’s going to be the main chef [at Pho VietFresh].”

The menu is relatively small compared to other Vietnamese restaurants, offering pho, raman, bánh mì, and a few other dishes. This was done on purpose, says Nguyen.

“We are very specialized,” he says. “We want to be more modernized… a little bit more Americanized, while also having the same authenticity.”

The restaurant takes the place of a former Starbucks (which moved across the street).

Take-out, limited indoor dining, and delivery through UberEats and DoorDash will be available upon opening. The hope down the road, Nguyen says, is for Pho VietFresh to offer their own delivery service, which will cut costs for both the customer and restaurant.

The original intent was to open last spring, but the pandemic delayed the family’s dream of opening their own restaurant… but only for a little a while longer.

“It’s a long time coming for us,” Nguyen says.

Photo courtesy of Pho VietFresh

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Tall Oaks Assisted Living at 2052 North Shore Drive in Reston is looking to add more parking, but the request won’t go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission until late March.

The proposal is to add 29 new parking spots at the 33-year-old assisted living center.

The ask was to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission next week with a scheduled public hearing. However, the applicant has requested a deferral, planning commission staff confirms. This is to give the assisted living center time to address community concerns and give the planning commission to review any changes.

The commission will acknowledge the deferral and the new date for the proposal to go before the planning commission will be March 24, county staff told Reston Now. Parking has long been an issue at assisted living facility, so says the application first filed in July.

The facility near the intersection of North Shore Dr. and Wiehle Ave. was originally developed with 44 spots. At the time, that was sufficient, but increasing “care needs of residents” in turn increased staffing levels, according to the application.

Throughout the years, when the parking lot was full, visitors and staff would routinely park at the adjacent Tall Oaks Village Center. As tenants fled the shopping center, parking spaces became more plentiful.

Then, in June 2016, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the redevelopment of the defunct shopping center into a mostly residential development. That is currently under construction after being delayed several times for a variety of reasons.

Due to construction, there’s currently no parking available there for Tall Oaks Assisted Living visitors and staff. The proposal is to increase from 44 parking spots to 73, 10 of which will be tandem parking spots.

The facility has 152 beds and 48 staff. Under strict application of the zoning ordinance, the facility is required to provide 99 parking spots. However, concurrently, the facility is filing a parking reduction request allowing them to be allowed to have 73 spots.

The parking spaces will be developed to not impact the site’s conservation easement and to avoid steep slopes as well as mature vegetation.

Photo via Google Maps

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The non-profit Friends of Reston Regional Library is providing about 1,800 free books to local students. The Book Bites project is giving new books to children at four Reston public schools during meal and school supply pick-up, which typically runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m on weekdays.

The schools that will receive donations are Dogwood Elementary, Hunters Woods Elementary, Forest Edge Elementary, and South Lakes High School. The first day of distribution took place at Dogwood late last week and is expected to continue until March.

Eileen Evon, Community Outreach Chair for FRRL, says the idea came to the organization when they realized how many families were in need of partaking in the meal pick-ups.

“Knowing more kids than ever were going to schools to pick up meals got us thinking about what else they might need to feed their brains and hearts and imaginations during this crazy time,” Evon wrote in an email to Reston Now. “We believed we, as Friends of the Library, could and should help.”

With access to libraries still limited, Evon says, this made the need even greater.

Books were sorted, inventoried, and arranged by reading level by more than 25 volunteers. Families are able to take bundles for multiple students within the same household. Books will also be handed out at schools in the coming weeks, when more students are expected to return in-person.

The books chosen for the project are from recommended school reading lists and were based on input from school librarians, reading specialists, and other school staff.

The organization received assistance from the local business Scrawl Books at Reston Town Center, which provided discounts on books. Jersey Mike’s of Reston also donated 1,000 new paper bags for the book bundles.

FRRL says the total cost of the books being distributed is nearly $15,000. Funds for the project came from sales of donated books as well as cash donations.

In normal times, FRRL raises money (often with book sales) to assist Reston libraries in filling funding gaps. Their mission is to make the local library system the “can be the best it can be” by providing technology, collection materials, programming, and books for free or discounted costs to the community, according to its website.

Evon says that while giving away free books looks easy, it requires a lot of work.

“It seems like a simple idea: ‘let’s give away a bunch of free, brand-new books to kids who rarely get them.’ But it actually has required months of planning and creative thinking,” she says. “The schools have so much going on right now, and they have had to adapt constantly. We’ve been delighted to partner with them so our volunteers can come to their schools to distribute these books to their families.”

Photo courtesy of Friends of Reston Regional Library

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The 2021 Reston Association Board of Director elections are here.

Every spring, the Reston Association elects three new members to their Board of Directors. Five candidates are certified this year for three spots, including four for the two at-large spots and one for the South Lakes District. All new members will serve a three-year term.

Ballots close April 2 for drop-off and online submission. Results will be announced April 13.

The candidates are:

At-Large (two seats available)

John Farrell 

A Reston resident since 1984 who is firmly the president of the Colonial Oaks Cluster, he wants facility improvements to be funded by new developers into the area.

Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza

An incumbent at-large representative, she is promoting transparency and smart money management. She founded RESTONSTRONG last year and held peaceful demonstrations.

Timothy J. Dowling

A retired attorney who served as the chief counsel on the Community Rights Counsel. A long-time resident, his priorities would be fiscal oversight, protecting opening spaces, and preserving Reston’s natural resources.

Vincent Dory

A programmer, he’s committed to solving all the technological questions and issues that may come up on the board. His primary concern is to preserve and protect the core principles of Reston’s unique design.

South Lakes District (one seat available)

Jennifer Jushchuk

A Reston resident since 2014, priorities include fiscal responsibility, communication, collaboration, and advocacy.

Further information about the candidates and their priorities can be found here.

Photo via Reston Association/Facebook.

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Monday, Feb. 1

  • Birth of a Wetland (10 a.m.) – If the cold has you stuck inside, take a walk in nature to learn how wetlands are born. A naturalist will lead a social distant walk through the wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park.

Tuesday, Feb. 2

  • Groundhog Day (8 a.m.) – COVID-19 isn’t going to stop Potomac Phil from making his seasonal prediction. The normally annual event at Dupont Circle where a taxidermied groundhog makes its prediction about spring’s arrival will be happening online this year. If you still want to meet this furry dead rodent in person, organizers say they will be in Dupont Circle in D.C. from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for a socially distant meet and greet.

Wednesday, Feb. 3

  • Star Cluster and Galaxies (7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) – Join the Analemma Society of Great Falls in partnership with the Fairfax County Park Authority for a (virtual) look into the deep sky. This interactive presentation is for those eight years old and up. It will provide an introduction to all the nebulas, star clusters, and galaxies that we can see in our sky.

Thursday, Feb. 4

  • How To Build a Time Machine (7 p.m. to 8 p.m.) – Yes, time travel may be possible according to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Hear from Dr. Robert Elrich, physics professor at George Mason University, about why this is the case and how one could actually build a time machine. Hill Valley 1955, here we come!

Friday, Feb. 5

  • Stuffed Animal Sleepover (5 p.m.) – While human children may not be able to have sleepovers these days, stuffed animals still can. Scrawl Books, along with author Sue Fliess, is hosting a sleepover for all those stuffed best friends. Simply drop off a beloved stuffed animal at the Reston bookstore, then log-onto Zoom for a bedtime story from Fliess where she’ll be joined by all of those friends at the store.

Saturday, Feb. 6 

  • Valentine’s In a Bag (2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.) – Pick up a bag of instructions and materials from the newly-named Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art to make a unique Valentine’s Day card at home.
  • Hidden Pond Winter Exploration (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) – Take a walk on the winter side. Explore with the family the wildlife and landscape at Hidden Pond Nature Center.

Sunday, Feb. 7 

  • Love Lessons from Jane Austen (2 p.m. to 3 p.m.) – Learn lessons of love from Jane Austen’s novels – and her own personal life. This virtual lecture includes an optional afternoon tea-to-go with finger sandwiches and cakes, available for pick-up at Green Street Gardens.

Photo via Wikimedia Creative Commons

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Updated on Feb. 1 to correct information on the project phase and jurisdiction receiving funding

Despite being approved more than two years ago, the construction phase of the restoration of Sugarland Run (South) Stream still hasn’t begun.

The $1.2 million project remains in the design phase, according to the Town of Herndon’s deputy Director of Public Works John Irish, though it’s expected to be completed by May.

The project will improve stormwater systems, stabilize erosion along streambanks, prevent flooding, and ensure the stream meets requirements for Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, first established in 2010. It will do this by planting vegetation, in-stream structure placement, and installing brush mattress.

The conditions along the stream banks and stream valley have been deteriorating in recent years.

The project will also restore a portion of the stream that flows near the Washington & Old Dominion Trail crossing.

The town received $200,000 from Fairfax County for the design work, which includes the geomorphic assessment, surveying, and public outreach meetings.

Irish writes to Reston Now in an email that this phase is “approximately 95% completed.”

In all, the design phase will end up taking up nearly three years. This is due to Herndon being asked by the county to apply for and, then, waiting for a state grant.

A stream condition assessment and negotiation of a fee that met budgetary guidelines also took time, writes Irish.

All in all, design work didn’t start until February 2020.

After designs are completed in May, they will be sent to the county with a request for one million dollars for construction. Once those funds are received, Herndon will advertise for construction bids.

Despite seemingly a long way to go in the process, Irish says construction is still expected to start this summer and completed within six months of the awarded contractor being given the go-ahead.

That means the project could be completed by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

The initial funding agreement did estimate the project could take up to four years, so the project theoretically could still be completed on time if not early.

However, a spokesperson for Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services tells Reston Now that this particular project is “lower priority” as part of their full Sugarland Run Watershed Management Plan, which was first adopted in 2010.

It remains unclear how this assessment will impact the expected providing of one million dollars to the Town of Herndon for construction and completion of Sugarland Run Stream restoration later this year.

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Lake Audubon Pool, operated by Reston Association, is in the midst of renovations. The pool is undergoing re-plastering, the pump and filter are being replaced, and other plumbing is being fixed.

Work began in mid-January and is expected to be completed sometime between mid-April and early May. But weather could delay the project, cautions Mike Leone of Reston Association.

This is all part of Reston Association’s regular maintenance plan and required for compliance under Fairfax County Health Department code. Plaster coatings have about an eight-to-ten- year service life, writes Leone in an email to Reston Now.

Another Reston Association pool, Lake Thoreau, is also expected to undergo renovations but a funding hang-up has caused delays. The Lake Thoreau Pool project could cost up to $3.5 million.

Lake Audubon pool renovation project is costing roughly $120,000, according to Leone.

At this time, it remains unclear when Reston Association pools will open this summer. In 2020, four out of 15 pools opened in late June.

“RA does not have hard dates for the opening of any of our pools for the 2021 summer season,” wrote Leone. “We are planning to open as many facilities as we can this summer.”

As pool season inches closer, updates will be posted on the Reston Association website.

Photo courtesy of Reston Association

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Now, Reston residents can access detailed local transportation data with a click.

An interactive Reston Transportation Data Hub came online earlier this week, offering compiled data sets detailing how and when Restonians move about town.

The tool features vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit data. Much of the data is from November 2019.

“This system provides a new way for residents to understand both the big picture and the details of our current and planned transportation system,” Walter Alcorn, Hunter Mill District Supervisor and Transportation Committee Chair, wrote in the press release. “Whether you drive, ride rail/buses, walk or bicycle, information on how the system fits together and coming improvements is critical. This data hub is an important step forward.”

Beyond that, the tool also maps upcoming transportation and infrastructure projects including timelines and costs. It also provides a comprehensive map of pedestrian and biking trails in Reston.

A high level analysis shows that traffic volume tends to be higher in Reston during the evening peak rush hour than the morning equivalent.

The report speculates that, along with commuting, this is due to the combination of errands and non-work trips that more often happen in the evening.

There are also other data hubs being planned, including ones showing zoning activity and parks that will show how land is being used in Reston.

Full press release below:

Reston residents, businesses and stakeholders can now access the latest information about transportation in the Reston area. The online, interactive Reston Transportation Data Hub features vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit data, in addition to information about planned infrastructure improvements and transportation projects for Reston.

The Transportation Data Hub is one component of the Reston Data Visualization project. Led by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development Urban Center’s Section and GIS Department, the project focuses on data transparency associated with Reston development and infrastructure improvements, including information about mobility, parks, and zoning activity.

“This system provides a new way for residents to understand both the big picture and the details of our current and planned transportation system,” said Walter Alcorn, Hunter Mill District Supervisor and Transportation Committee Chair. “Whether you drive, ride rail/buses, walk or bicycle, information on how the system fits together and coming improvements is critical. This data hub is an important step forward.”

Additional Data Hubs are planned for the Reston Data Visualization project – including a Zoning Activity Data Hub and a Parks Hub – for sharing land use information with the Reston Community.

The main Reston Data Visualization page, which includes the Reston Transportation Data Hub, can be found at https://reston-data-visualization-fairfaxcountygis.hub.arcgis.com/. For questions about the new Transportation Data Hub or the Reston Data Visualization project, contact the Department of Planning and Development’s Urban Centers Section.

The Transportation Data Hub is a collaboration between Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Development and Department of Transportation.

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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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