After a year off, the two-decade-old Ride of the Patriots in Fairfax is back and ready to rumble.
With the 2020 iteration canceled due to the pandemic, the Memorial Day weekend event and ride is returning to the D.C. area, but it will be scaled down a bit compared to previous years.
It will take place Friday (May 28) through Sunday (May 30) starting at Patriot Harley-Davidson on Fairfax Boulevard in Fairfax.
There will be vendors, food trucks, an appearance from the “Saluting Marine,” and a gathering of bikers.
There will also be two rides, each limited to 225 riders. On Saturday, the ride will begin at 11 a.m., and on Sunday, it will depart from Patriot Harley-Davidson at 11 a.m. to join up with AMVet’s Rolling to Remember in D.C. Registration to ride cost $25.
First held in 1999, the ride’s purpose is to remember and commemorate military veterans, particularly those who fought in the Vietnam War and those who remain missing in action. In recent years, there’s been a focus on veteran suicide.
An average of 17 veterans die by suicide per day, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
In previous years, upwards of 12,000 bikers would join in on the festivities from across Northern Virginia and even the country. But this year, there will be significantly fewer participants.
Kevin Hardy, the event’s organizer since 2017 and marketing director at Patriot Harley-Davidson, thinks there will be about 300 to 400 bikes this year.
Hardy says the constantly changing COVID-19 health regulations over the last few months made it tough to plan for more than that. He’s excited, though, that the end of most capacity limits starting May 28 will allow Ride of the Patriots to happen again this year.
“You don’t want to not have it for two years. I’m a big believer in things being front of mind,” Hardy said. “If you don’t [hold the event], it kinda fades away with time.”
Rolling Thunder, the similar, long-running Memorial Day weekend event, officially ended in 2019, leaving smaller events like Ride of the Patriots to fill the void.
Hardy believes bringing awareness to veteran issues remains of the utmost importance. He also has a personal connection to the topic, with his father being a retired military colonel who served in the U.S. Army for 27 years.
“I think there’s a lot of change going in America today and a lot of what [these veterans] did enabled people to speak their mind and protest certain things,” Hardy said. “A lot of what America is and those rights were fought for by veterans.”
After starting in Fairfax, the Ride of the Patriot will proceed down Route 50 towards the District.
The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed to Reston Now that they will temporarily close Route 50 between Patriot Drive and I-495 “to allow safe passage” for the riders starting around 11 a.m. on Saturday and at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
The hope is that next year’s event will be back to 2019 attendance levels with thousands of bikers making their way down Route 50 to pay their respects to those who have served.
“We’ll be ready to go in 2022 for thousands and thousands of bikes heading from here to D.C. in honor of veterans,” Hardy said.
Photo courtesy Kevin Hardy
Reston Association is relaxing COVID-related pool restrictions starting Memorial Day weekend.
Beginning Friday (May 28), RA pools will go back to full, pre-COVID capacity, RA spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email.
However, RA plans to honor reservations made for Memorial Day weekend, since it had instituted a reservation system for that time period prior to the county and state announcements.
“Our priority will be to honor all Members with reservations through May 31st,” Leone clarified in an email. “If there is available capacity at a pool after Members with reservations arrive, those without reservations will be permitted to use the pool until it reaches capacity limits.”
Beginning June 1, the majority of RA pool facilities will open with no reservations required.
Due to popular demand, though, RA will continue to have lap swim and water fitness reservations at some locations throughout the summer. If space is available, walk-ins will be permitted.
Physical and social distancing will also no longer be enforced starting June 1, but RA is asking residents “to be mindful of personal space.”
RA will also still require masks inside its facilities, regardless of whether a resident is fully vaccinated or not. Masks are not required, though, when patrons are in the water, eating, drinking, and exercising, or for people who have a medical exception.
Virginia and Fairfax County both are no longer requiring masks in most settings for those who are fully vaccinated.
Five more RA pools will be opening on Saturday (May 29), joining the North Shore and Ridge Height heated pools, which both opened on May 15. Then, the rest of the RA pools will open for the season on June 12.
Pool season is getting underway as debate heightens about the possible “repurposing” or, even, closure of a number of pools.
Last week, RA staff recommended that Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood pools be “seriously considered for repurposing” due to their low usage. RA CEO Hank Lynch is scheduled to further discuss his budget recommendations at the board of directors meeting on Thursday (May 27).
A recent year-long evaluation by RA’s recreation facilities work group found that a number of decades-old facilities, including some pools, are in need of a considerable amount of work and repairs.
RA recently renovated several of these pools, including an ongoing $3.5 million facelift for Lake Thoreau and a resurfacing of Glade pool’s slide.
Tall Oaks and Shadowood are both currently closed due to ongoing renovations.
Photo courtesy of Reston Association
(Updated at 2:10 p.m. on 5/27/2021) Beanstalk, an indoor vertical farming start-up, is putting down roots in Herndon with plans to invest more than $2 million to open a facility and farm this fall.
The Virginia-based company is expanding and opening a “scaled-up version” of their existing farm in the Lorton/Springfield area right off of Herndon Parkway and near the impending Herndon Metro station, Beanstalk co-founder Michael Ross writes Reston Now in an email.
The Herndon location will have research, growing, and package operations.
“This new facility will produce the equivalent of over 50 acres of traditional farmland and allow us to expand into more local grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants,” said Ross, who founded Beanstalk with his brother Jack.
The company grows pesticide-free leafy greens and herbs year-round using robotics and hydroponic — or soil-less — growing technology. It says it saves space by growing in layers and vertically as opposed to horizontally.
Beanstalk sells its salad mixes and herbs at grocery stores, local farmers markets, and online.
Jack Ross was selected by Virginia for a STEAM catalyst award back in 2018 for his development of an automated indoor growing production system. The technology allows Beanstalk to “produce food four times as efficiently as traditional hydroponic farming,” according to a press release from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
The brothers opened their 3,000 square-foot Springfield/Lorton facility in 2018, and the company expects to have annual sales of over $5 million in the next three years.
“We have created a new technology that produces better tasting and more nutritious vegetables, herbs, and fruits than what are available today,” Ross said. “Our farms are also sustainable as they consume 95% less water, have zero chemical run-off, and are over 100 times more productive use of land.”
The company’s co-founders are in their 20s and both were raised in Alexandria, went to high school in D.C., and played youth sports across the region.
“I particularly spent a lot of time in Herndon and Reston in high school, which is how I originally got to know the area through events like the Herndon Festival,” said Ross, who studied aerospace engineering in college.
He tells Reston Now that they evaluated “dozens of cities” in the D.C. area for their expansion but decided on Herndon because of the town’s “incredible community” and prioritzation of sustainability.
“Herndon is a very unique place within Northern Virginia in that it feels like a small, close-knit town with all the benefits of a larger city,” he said.
Beanstalk is expected to create 29 jobs in Herndon, some of which are already open for hiring.
Positions currently open in Herndon include a director of research and a senior electrical engineer. Ross notes that other jobs will be available soon in engineering, research, and operations, and the company will be looking for farmers later this year.
“We look for people from all backgrounds who want to bring locally grown food to their community and are curious, ambitious, and skilled,” Ross said.
Beanstalk is receiving financial support from both the state and Fairfax County in the form of grants that total $200,000.
As expected, local leaders say they are thrilled that Beanstalk decided Herndon is the place for them to grow.
“We are always looking for innovative investments to move our economy forward in Fairfax County,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay said in the governor’s press release. “Beanstalk’s new facility will not only bring new jobs to the community, but it also is a creative solution to using advancements in technology to increase access to fresh food options.”
Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem also welcomed the Ross brothers and Beanstalk to town.
“Theirs is exactly the kind of innovative, jobs-producing business we are looking to attract to our town’s commercial sector, and we applaud their application of technology toward provision of healthy, locally-grown produce,” she said.
Beanstalk’s mission is not only to grow fresh produce using new, more-efficient, sustainable technology, but to provide food at its freshest, Ross says.
“By growing in a farm within the community, we deliver food at peak freshness, which ensures all the taste and nutrition of the food is there when you take your first bite,” he said.
Photo courtesy Michael Ross
A new Korean fried chicken restaurant will open in North Point Village Center this summer.
Bbq Chicken at 1432 North Point Village Center in Reston is targeting a July 4 opening, a restaurant representative tells Reston Now. Build out is currently about 75% finished.
The location was previously a Jerry’s Subs that closed in September 2019.
The restaurant is part of a national franchise with close to 2,000 locations across the country, but this is the first one in the Reston/Herndon area. There is a location in Falls Church.
Several more locations of bbq Chicken are being planned for the area, including in Herndon and Ashburn, by the end of the year, the restaurant representative says.
The franchise specializes in Korean fried chicken with menu options for spicy, honey garlic, and more traditional Korean flavors like galbi (sweet with sesame seeds) and gang-jeong (cinnamon and spicy).
The bbq Chicken spokesperson says the company is expanding the number of locations in Northern Virginia, because Korean fried chicken has traveled well and can be easily prepared for pick-up and delivery.
They chose North Point Village as the restaurant’s introduction to Reston because the shopping center provides substantial parking with good access for delivery drivers.
Photo via bb.q Chicken US/Instagram
The company told Reston Now two months ago that they hoped to open by this coming weekend, but it depended on the major movie studios releasing films into theaters, as opposed to streaming and on-demand services.
With vaccinations up across the country and region, that appears to be happening. According to Bow Tie Cinemas, the major new Hollywood releases waiting to greet Reston moviegoers include “A Quiet Place Part II”, Disney’s “Cruella,” and “Spiral: Saw.”
“I am thrilled that we are finally able to reopen our Reston location,” Bow Tie Cinemas Chief Operating Officer Joseph Masher said in the press release. “By exercising our health and safety protocols, we have been able to successfully provide a clean atmosphere for our guests to return to the cinema.”
Masher says the chain has not recorded any cases of COVID-19 transmission among patrons or staff since it first reopened some locations last summer.
“Guests have been returning, and leave feeling a sense of normalcy that has been sorely missed during the pandemic,” he said.
The Reston Town Center theater will reopen with a series of safety and health protocols in place in accordance with the National Association of Theater Owners’ CinemaSafe initiative, which commits participants to following guidelines that, in some cases, are stricter than what Virginia and Fairfax County now require.
The state will lift capacity limits on movie theaters and other entertainment venues starting on Friday.
Bow Tie’s protocols include 100% reserved seating, the installation of plexiglass barriers at box office and concession stands, contact-free ticket and concession purchasing, and enhanced cleaning.
Additionally, all staff must wear a mask, even if they are fully vaccinated.
“Bow Tie Cinemas staff must wear masks at all times, whereas fully vaccinated customers are welcome to remove their mask,” a Bow Tie Cinema spokesperson confirmed to Reston Now in an email. “If a customer has yet to be vaccinated, we ask that they continue to wear their mask unless they are actively eating and drinking in their seat.”
There are also several promotional offers for those who come to the Reston Town Center theater on the first weekend.
From May 28 to 30, a purchase of a non-alcoholic beverage comes with a free small popcorn and entry into a raffle for free movie tickets. Reston customers can also continue to rent out an entire theater for up to 30 guests for a private screening.
Bow Tie Cinemas acquired the theater at Reston Town Center from Rave Cinema in 2011.
Monday, May 24
- Citizenship Game Show (6 p.m.) — If you are trying to become a citizen or simply looking to brush up on American history, jump on this virtual game show hosted by the Richard Byrd Library staff. There will be over 100 questions to answer.
Tuesday, May 25
- Outdoor Family Storytime (10 a.m.) — Sit outside in the plaza at Shirlington Library in Arlington for some interactive story time. Intended for young kids, there will be rhymes, picture books, and plenty of songs.
Wednesday, May 26
- Crash Funk Brass Band (5 p.m.) — Part of the Jewish Film and Music Festival, this local brass Klezmer band will perform in Lincoln Park in D.C. for free. Grab a coffee, take a seat, and listen to this unique genre of European Jewish folk music.
Thursday, May 27
- Civic Duty at Jammin Java (7 p.m.) — To celebrate Jammin Java’s 20th anniversary, the music venue is putting on a jam-packed series of free, donation-only outdoor concerts. Up this week is local band Civic Duty, who describe themselves as being influenced by Nirvana and the Beatles.
Friday, May 28
- Bridesmaids at the Drive-In (8 p.m.) — Grab your fully-vaccinated friends, hop in the car, and take in a drive-in movie at Buzzard Point in D.C. This six-week series is being organized by the Capitol Riverfront BID, and all proceeds are being donated to local charities. This week’s movie is the 2011 comedy “Bridesmaids.”
Saturday, May 29
- 100 Years of the Glen Echo Park Carousel (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) — Celebrate 100 years of the area’s most celebrated carousel. The Dentzel Carousel, a national historic landmark, was closed for nearly two years for restoration and the pandemic. So, take a ride on a lion, tiger, or bear…oh my!
- Meow Day (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) — This day-long virtual celebration hosted by the Humane Rescue Alliance in D.C. will have tons of “CATivities.” This includes a lesson on doing yoga with your cat, a virtual tour of a cat NICU, and a chance to ask experts about why your cat barfs on your pillow at night (or is that just my cat?).
Sunday, May 30
- The Ride of Patriots (11 a.m.) — A smaller, more localized version of Rolling Thunder (which officially ended in 2019) will be one of many events taking place over Memorial Day Weekend to honor those who died serving in the U.S. military. All riders will meet at the Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax before venturing over to D.C. to pay respects at memorials.
Monday, May 31
- Viva! Vienna! (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) — This long-running festival returns after taking 2020 off due to the pandemic. There will be amusement rides, games, and foods. All proceeds will go to charitable and community organizations and will take place over the entire weekend.
Photo via Flickr/Link576
The Herndon Town Council is nearing approval of its fiscal years 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Program, which includes newly added projects like a traffic signal along Herndon Parkway at Sunset Park Drive and a possible expansion of the Herndon Police Department’s parking lot.
Every year, the Town of Herndon updates its six-year schedule for public improvements known as the Capital Improvement Program. The projects scheduled for the upcoming fiscal year — in this case, FY 2022 — are adopted along with the budget, while the rest of the program is adopted separately.
CIP projects have been limited the past two fiscal years due to budget constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, going forward, the town hopes these new projects will proceed on the proposed timeline.
The CIP has 49 projects, six of which are added in this year’s version, including:
- New Herndon Parkway traffic signal at Sunset Park Drive. This project will also add new street lighting, signals for bikes and pedestrians, and crosswalks to improve safety and traffic circulation access to Sunset Business Park. It has an anticipated completion date of FY 2025 and an estimated cost of about $4.5 million.
- Herndon Police Department parking lot expansion. The first step is to initiate a study to determine how many more parking spots are needed and an estimated budget for construction. Both the study and construction are expected to happen in fiscal year 2023.
- HVAC and roof replacements at 1481 Sterling Road. First installed around 1986, the roof and four HVAC units at the town facility on Sterling Road have far exceeded their lifespans. These are “emergency” improvements, Herndon Deputy Director of Public Works John Irish noted Tuesday, and they’re estimated to be completed in fiscal year 2023.
- Energy conservation project. The town will utilize energy audits done in 2017 to inform decisions about replacing equipment, lighting, heating systems to make town buildings and infrastructure more energy efficient. While the project is expected to cost about $22,000 upfront in fiscal year 2023, it could reduce the town’s energy bills by over $380,000 annually. “[It] will essentially fund itself by the savings the program identifies,” Irish said.
- Fuel tank replacement at Town Shop facility. The two underground 10,000-gallon tanks used to fuel all town-owned vehicles are nearing the end of their lifespans. A study will be done in FY 2022 to identify any environmental concerns before the tanks are replaced in FY 2023.
- Herndon Community Center pool pak replacement. “This is a critical piece of equipment for the conditioning of the water and also the air that circulates in the natatorium,” Irish said. The units are reaching the end of their life cycles. Design work is set to be completed this year, and then, the roughly $500,000 replacement is expected to happen in FY 2023.
Overall, town staff is recommending just over $150 million in CIP projects over the next six years, with a large portion of the funding coming from the general government fund.
Irish noted that a number of transportation projects are expected to undergo construction and be completed soon, so they will likely not be in next year’s version of the CIP.
Photo via Bill Ashton/Facebook
The seafood concept from Thompson Hospitality opened today (May 20) for delivery and curbside pick-up, a company spokesperson tells Reston Now.
Their hours will be from 4-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 12-10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Initially expecting an April opening, Willie T’s opted to push the timing back after making a decision to expand its menu with “more robust seafood offerings” like lobster rolls, grilled lobster, and crab cakes, the spokesperson says.
The cooking is being done out of the kitchen at Homewood Suites at 1735 Business Center Drive. The hotel is also owned by Thompson Hospitality, a Reston-based restaurant, facility management, and hospitality group.
The group is currently “actively” looking for a brick and mortar location for Willie T’s in the Reston/Herndon area as well as Silver Spring, Maryland, the spokesperson says.
To avoid a lot of construction and enable the venue to open more quickly, Thompson Hospitality is searching for a second-generation restaurant space, meaning a location that has been already built out and leased to a previous food service tenant.
Thompson Hospitality hopes that Willie T’s will stay in Reston since a number of their businesses are in the area, the spokesperson noted.
Delivery is available through Ubereats, GrubHub, and DoorDash. Patrons can also order curbside pickup.
Photo via Thompson Hospitality
The cicadas are here, along with a new rap about the insects from local hip-hop artist MC Bugg-Z.
“Brood X-cellence” is a deep rhyming dive into the entomology, science, and emergence of Brood X, the periodical cicadas that are just now surfacing from their 17-year slumber underground.
Lines like “I have been chilling underground with my friends sippin on root juices” and “It’s a fitness thing, you’re witnessing predator satiation” will certainly have wings flapping and red eyes darting.
The song is written and performed by MC Bugg-Z, who isn’t just any old bug-loving underground hip-hop artist. He’s an entomologist and biologist who works for Fairfax County.
“I’m part of the Fairfax County Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health and, inside the Division of Environmental Health, we have the disease-carrying insects program,” Andy Lima said. “That’s my normal, real-life job.”
Lima has been writing and recording underground hip-hop since his college days in the mid-2000s with a focus on intelligent lyric writing.
“It’s more about the rhymes than the beats,” Lima said. “I love to convey the knowledge about the things I love and the world I know…by putting it into hip-hop song form.”
In Lima’s case, that’s bugs, and this isn’t his first foray into the emerging genre of insect rap.
In 2016, he released “Zika 101” about protecting oneself from disease-carrying mosquitoes. In 2018, there was “Tick-Check 1-2” about checking for ticks and avoiding Lyme Disease, followed a year later by “West Nile Story.”
While cicadas are not known to carry disease, Lima couldn’t skip the opportunity for a new song about a bug.
“Brood X-cellence” is a remix or sequel of sorts to a cicada rap he wrote back in 2004, when the brood last emerged. He was a student at Indiana University back then, and the din of the cicadas could actually be heard in the background of the recording.
“I was going to just re-release that one this year and just felt like there were things about the song that I wanted to change, new information that I wanted to include and, also, some errors,” Lima said. “I’ve learned some stuff over the past 17 years…Now, the focus is much more on the biology of it as opposed to the spectacle itself.”
When he writes songs, Lima takes a reverse-engineered approach. He thinks about how he wants to end a line and then finds a rhyme to match it.
“I don’t shy away from the scientific words because they are multi-syllables,” Lima said. “You can often find a way to rhyme them or, even, define some of these terms [in the rhyme]…like predator satiation.”
It took about two weeks to write, re-work, and record “Brood X-cellence.” The beat was provided by Kelton Williams, another Fairfax County employee who Lima met while helping with COVID-19 emergency response.
“He’s a great musician,” said Lima. “As soon as I heard [his beat], I thought ‘Oh man, this is going down.'”
The main takeaway that Lima wants folks to get from the song is that this cicada takeover is an incredibly rare and amazing occurrence.
“It’s a fleeting event, a miracle of nature,” he said. “It really only occurs in the eastern half of the United States and nowhere else in the world…It’s just so rare that the public is kind of overrun with insects.”
He hopes his bug rap educates, entertains, and allows folks to have a little fun after a difficult year.
With the temperatures warming, particularly in the evening, the cicadas are expected to come out of the ground en masse within a matter of days, looking to play their own song.
“We’re really going to see the surge that’s just beyond,” Lima said. “So, hopefully my song is well-timed.”
Silver Line Phase 2 remains on track to open in the first quarter of 2022, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority says.
In an update on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project issued on Monday (May 17), the agency says it is “confident” that construction will be finished “around Labor Day,” at which point the long-delayed $2.8 billion project will finally be handed off to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
If that happens as planned, WMATA will begin conducting “operational readiness testing.” That step includes more inspections, trainings, delivery of spare parts, certifications, and the correction of any issues.
That process should take two months if there are no outstanding issues, according to a Metro presentation on Silver Line Phase 2’s progress from March.
After that, there will be “pre-revenue activities,” including more trainings, testings, and the issuing of safety certifications. That step could take up to 90 days.
Putting all of that together, that leaves five months between when WMATA receives the project and when Silver Line Phase 2 and its six stations — Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Dulles Airport, Loudoun Gateway, and Ashburn — would officially open.
If WMATA does receive the project on Labor Day from MWAA, that puts a potential opening for revenue services and operation in early February 2022.
Of course, not all of this is guaranteed. MWAA says the timeline is “subject to change depending on the Airports Authority’s final completion date and the results of complex testing that are needed for Metro operations.”
What’s more, MWAA notes that the contractors building the tracks and the Phase 2 rail yard and maintenance facility have both missed deadlines.
“Each contractor missed its respective contract completion date but is striving to be ready for a September turnover,” the update says.
The contractors “knows what needs to be done,” says project head Charles Stark, who is retiring in July.
One of the major challenges of the project right now is connecting Phase 2 with Silver Line Phase 1, particularly west of the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station. Doing this will require shutting down service at the station for a period of time that could come as soon as early summer.
Reston Now reached out to WMATA to learn more about the timeline and duration of this shutdown, but has yet to hear back as of publication.
A number of elements of the project have been completed in recent months.
The complex stormwater control system, which delayed the project more than a full year, is now finished, along with the 300-plus glass panel windscreen at the Dulles Airport Metro station.
Dulles Airport station’s pedestrian tunnel now has moving existing sidewalks as well as an exhibit showing the history of the Dulles area.
Last month, Metro approved a $4.7 billion budget that officially delayed Silver Line Phase 2 to 2022 but prevented potential very consequential service cuts.
Photo courtesy Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
(Updated at 10:15 a.m. on 5/25/2021) A new sushi restaurant is coming to Reston’s North Point Village Center later this year.
Matsutake Sushi is expected to open to customers in November, Matsutake National Inc. President Heesook Chun confirmed to Reston Now in an email.
Matsutake Sushi will be moving into 1492 North Point Village Center, which has been vacant for the past two years. The most recent tenant was a Boston Market that closed in 2019.
Chun says he no longer owns most of them, except for the Arlington venue.
The menus at those restaurants include sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, hibachi, and tempura.
North Point Village Center has had several comings and goings over the last year.
Christie-Adam Salon and Spa replaced another hair salon earlier this year. GNC shuttered last summer. Also this time last year, a fire broke out on the shopping center’s roof and swastikas were found spray painted on the sidewalk. FCPD classified it as a hate or bias incident.
Photo by Laura Crielly
(Updated at 2:30 p.m. on 5/19/2021) Reston Association staff is recommending that four pools be “seriously considered for repurposing” due to low usage.
Pool usage will be discussed at a joint work session with the RA board and Recreation Facilities Working Group on Thursday (May 20), along with budgetary recommendations based on findings that the working group presented in late February.
Two decades of data that RA CEO Hank Lynch will present at the work session show that Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood pools all have lower usage compared to RA’s 11 other pools.
As a result, staff recommends that RA consider “repurposing” the facilities. Tall Oaks and Shadowood are both currently closed for ongoing capital improvement projects.
With pools now open for the 2021 season, the staff recommendations come on the heels of a year-long evaluation by the recreation facilities work group that found a number of decades-old facilities are in need of work and repairs.
The group noted in its report that funding for these capital projects may not be sustainable without a significant increase in members’ annual assessment.
Over the next decade, RA is scheduled to spend about $40 million to operate, maintain, and address capital improvement needs on its 15 pools and more than 50 tennis courts, according to Thursday’s work session presentation.
When asked to comment about what could happen to these specific pools, RA spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email that their fate has yet to be determined:
The Facility Working Group’s work session is simply the start of the process. During the work session participants will review the Recreation & Facilities Working Group findings and recommendations on RA’s recreation facilities and the long term operational, maintenance and capital costs for such facilities. ‘Repurposing’ of some facilities may be a consideration and any decision to do so down the road, will require significant community input and discussion, involve RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee and would be the decision of the Board of Directors.
When asked if “repurposing” could mean the potential closing of those pools, Leone demurred.
“‘Repurposing’ could mean reimaging the space for a different type of amenity or use of interest to members,'” he wrote.
In general, pool usage has dropped by about 37% over the last decade, according to the work group’s data. Every pool except for Dogwood and Glade has seen a decrease in usage since 2010.
The four pools that have seen the least frequent usage as of 2019, Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood were all built between 1969 and 1976, making them three to four decades old. It has cost about $9.6 million in total to maintain and operate them over the last 10 years.
In total, RA has spent about $33 million on pool maintenance and operations since 2010.
Budgetary concerns and lower usage aside, a number of community members told Reston Now that they want those four pools to remain open, saying they value their neighborhood pools and believe that recent usage statistics alone do not tell the full story.
Golf Course Square Cluster Association President Elmer Reinhardt says that 400 units would be affected by the repurposing or closing of the Newbridge pool.
“Newbridge pool is the only pool in Reston that you don’t have to cross a through-street to get to it,” he said. “The children can walk to that pool without ever crossing a highway, and we think that’s important.”
A resident of the community for more than 40 years, Reinhardt says he believes the recent lower usage has more to do with the population being cyclical.
“We’re seeing a huge influx of young families into our neighborhoods now and those are the ones that use the pools,” he said.
He argues that it would be shortsighted to make a decision to repurpose or close certain pools based just on recent data.
“[The demographics] change every 10 to 15 years. One year, you’ll only see wheelchairs being pushed on the sidewalks and, the next, only strollers,” he said.
RA has recently renovated several of their pools, including an ongoing and much-discussed $3.5 million facelift for Lake Thoreau. This spring, Glade pool’s slide was resurfaced, and new lighting was added.
The presentation suggests that a “seasonal indoor racket sports facility should be considered,” along with amenities sought by new RA members.
Currently, a conversation about pools is currently not on the agenda for the RA Board of Directors meeting on May 27, Leone confirms.
However, there remains a possibility that it could be added to the agenda prior to the meeting, and members can discuss it during the meeting’s comment period if they wish.
Photo courtesy Reston Association
Monday, May 17
- One Loudoun Carnival (5-10 p.m.) — After taking a break in 2020 due to the pandemic, One Loudoun’s annual carnival is back. Open nightly through the end of the month, the event features rides, games, and of course, the requisite funnel cake.
Tuesday, May 18
- Questions About Demographic Change (6-7 p.m.) — Have questions about the latest Census results and the demographic changes that it’s reporting? Come ask George Mason University Associate Professor of Policy and Government Justin Gest in this virtual question and answer session organized by Fairfax County Public Library.
Wednesday, May 19
- Ravel Dance Company presents “Coppelia” (5 p.m.) — The Ravel Dance Company in Reston is finally heading back to the stage with a performance of the comedic ballet “Coppelia.” While there remains no live audience, the performance will be videotaped and presented digitally through invitation only.
Thursday, May 20
- Brian Boome in conversation with Jason Reynolds (8 p.m.) — Politics & Prose presents a talk between authors Brian Boome and Jason Reynolds, who will discuss his new book, “Punch Me Up To the Gods.” Reynolds is a D.C.-area native who has won awards for his young adult fiction, and Boome is presenting his memoir about his experiences growing up in Ohio.
Friday, May 21
- Dinner at Dusk (6 p.m.) — Have the perfect date night at the Key Bridge Boathouse in D.C. The evening starts with a one-hour paddle, followed by dinner and live music along the shores of the Potomac River.
Saturday, May 22
- Hole in One (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) — Go for a hole in one at the newly renovated Jefferson District mini-golf course in Falls Church. The course is hosting an open house for all to check out those immaculate greens. Play, put the ball in the hole, and get a goody bag as well.
- Movies in the Park (7:45 p.m.) — Take in the 1988 John Candy comedy “The Great Outdoors” outdoors. Join the Reston Association for the latest installment in their “Movies in the Park” series. Bring a blanket, your mask, and the family to Lake Newport Soccer Field to catch a flick outside.
Sunday, May 23
- Turtle Trek (1:30-3 p.m.) — In honor of World Turtle Day, go in search of turtles that call Reston home. Meant for all ages, the day will end with a hike to the turtle habitat at Lake Audubon.
Photo via Linnaea Mallette/Public Domain Pictures
Repairs and rehabilitation is now complete on the 74-year-old Sugarland Run Bridge in Herndon.
Construction began last September on the westbound Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) portion of the bridge, which resulted in several lane closures on weekends and overnights in October. The project was completed last month.
The work included bridge pier and abutment repairs, the building of a new concrete bridge deck, guardrail upgrades, and new curbs and gutters. The total cost of the project was $4.4 million, paid for by a combination of state and federal funds.
Work and repairs were needed to address continued deterioration on the bridge’s underside, broken steel reinforcement strands, and debris clogging the drain pipes. Overall, the condition of the bridge deck and beams prior to the work was considered “poor” and “structurally deficient,” according to the staff report.
This section of Route 7 averages about 59,000 vehicles a day in combined eastbound and westbound travel.
The bridge was widened in 1981 and, again, in 2000.
Initially, VDOT planned to further widen the bridge in this project and extend the acceleration lane from the Fairfax County on-ramp to Dranesville Road, but those elements were cut from the project.
Those additional components would have brought the total cost of the project to about $11 million and were “not completed due to funding constraints,” a Virginia Department of Transportation confirms to Reston Now.
In the end, the project actually was finished ahead of schedule and under budget compared to estimates from June 2019. It was originally scheduled to be completed in the fall 2021 and cost about $6 million.
TGIF! Check out these pics of the newly rehabbed Rt 7 WB bridge over Sugarland Run in Herndon, including a new bridge deck and pier/abutment repairs. Way to go, project team! More info: https://t.co/5Qxli2EuXq pic.twitter.com/Xd890BbAJp
— VDOT Northern VA 😷 (@VaDOTNOVA) May 14, 2021
An effort by Fairfax County and the Town of Herndon to restore Sugarland Run Stream, the body of water that runs under the bridge, is currently in the works.
Set to be completed in early 2022, the long-running project will stabilize eroding stream banks, re-plant vegetation, and install brush mattresses.
Fairfax County officials say they plan to follow the state government’s lead on how to handle the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated mask guidelines, which now state that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors or indoors in most settings.
The CDC announced the revised guidelines yesterday afternoon (Thursday) in a move intended to highlight the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We will continue to follow the masking guidance put out by the state and follow the data,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “While there are still times that a mask may be necessary, the vaccine works. This is a strong incentive to get vaccinated if you have yet to do so. It is crucial and effective in protecting your family, friends, and community.”
Virginia officials are currently reviewing the new guidance and expect to issue updates to Virginia’s mask requirements soon, according to Alena Yarmosky, the press secretary for Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.
“Virginia will continue to follow CDC guidelines, as we have throughout this pandemic. We are reviewing this guidance and expect to have more updates soon,” Yarmosky said in a statement. “Ultimately this reinforces the importance of getting vaccinated. Vaccines are our pathway out of this pandemic, and they are how we can all get back to doing what we love.”
The change comes almost exactly one year after the Commonwealth first instituted a mask mandate in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
There are caveats to the significant loosening of mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, defined by the CDC as people who have gone at least two weeks since their last needed dose.
Fully vaccinated individuals must still cover their face and maintain social distancing when going into doctors’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and congregate settings, such as prisons or homeless shelters. Masks are also still required on public transportation and in transportation hubs like airports.
Nonetheless, the move reflects the progress that the U.S. has made in finally getting COVID-19 under control.
With cases declining locally and statewide, and more of the population getting vaccinated, Virginia already loosened its mask guidelines in April, and several capacity restrictions are set to ease tomorrow (Saturday). Northam plans to lift all limits on June 15 if case rates continue to fall.
The new mask guidance was announced within 24 hours of the CDC — along with Virginia and Fairfax County — expanding eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents between the ages of 12 to 15.
“With the expansion of eligibility to everyone 12 and older, more Virginians can get vaccinated than ever before,” Yarmosky said. “If you haven’t already, now is the time to get your shot.”
Clinical trials for vaccinating kids under the age of 12 remain ongoing as well.
Photo via Mika Baumeister/Unsplash