Public Art Proposal for Colts Neck Road Underpass Receives Design Approval

Reston Association’s Design Review Board approved Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta’s vision to transform the Colts Neck Road underpass into public art.

At a Tuesday meeting, the DRB approved a conceptual design of the project. The final version will use between 600 and 1,000 designs created by seniors from Hunters Woods Fellowship House and more than 800 students from Southgate Community Center and Hunters Woods and Dogwood elementary schools.

Inspired by Reston’s 55 miles of pathways, Volta asked participants to use sharpies to draw a path that invokes joy, love and reference. In a proposal to the DRB, he describes the project as a “colorful connector that reverberates collective energy and rhythm.”

The DRB reviewed a conceptual rendering of the project with just 10 drawings replicated over and over again to give the panel a feel for the direction of the design.

During the meeting, Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chairman, said the project was “stunning.”

“You take something as mundane as a tunnel and its almost too bad that tunnels weren’t designed with more fun in mind,” Newlon said.

Panel members briefly considered asking Volta to return to the DRB for final approval once the design was near finalization. Instead, Volta will submit a final rendering of the project as a courtesy to the DRB.

However, W. Neal Roseberry, a DRB member, questioned the need to transform underpasses into public art.

“I’ve never fully enjoyed that we use our infrastructure for our artwork,” Roseberry said.

Public Art Reston hopes to install the project by September. Anne Delaney, Public Art Reston’s executive director noted that the master plan for public art in Reston envisions transforming the community’s underpasses into art.

Volta says will use colors selected by workshop participants, but anticipates tweaks to the color to ensure the piece is balanced. A strip of LED lighting will line both ends of the tunnel.

“I’m kind of along for the ride as well,” Volta said, adding that he’s open to collaborating more with the community for piece of art created through collaboration.

The artwork begins six inches above the ground in order to prevent splattering from dirt and mud. Because of its location, the underpass has drainage issues.

The project is made possible with a proffer commitment by Atlantic Realty Companies to improve the exterior of the underpass as part of its development at Hunters Woods at Trails Edge. The developer is pitching in $60,000 for the art.

Other community partners include ARTSFairfax, Reston Community Center, JBG SMITH, Virginia Commission for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Pat & Steve Macintyre, and Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association.

Renderings via handout/Reston Association

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Author Tracey Graves Visits Scrawl Books — Graves, who is a New York Times bestselling author, visits the bookstore at 7 p.m. today. She has a new book out called “The Girl He Used to Know.” [Scrawl Books]

Reston-based SyncDog Announces Partnership — The independent software vendor for mobile security and data loss prevention is partnering with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to expand mobile security solutions in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Colombia. [Technical.ly]

Herndon-based Peraton Acquires Solers — The provider of software and technology services will acquire the Arlington-based solutions firm Solers. The purchase is intended to expand the company’s space portfolio for national security and civilian space agency programs. [GovCon Wire]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Long-Term Study to Identify Metro’s Future Regional Needs

Metro is launching is a two-year study of the Blue, Orange and Silver Line in order to find long-term options to meet future regional needs.

The study is intended to improve reliability, meet future ridership demands, and improve service for customers, according to a statement released yesterday (June 17).

Because all three Metro lines share a single set of tracks between the Rosslyn tunnel and the Anacostia River, Metro says that bottlenecks are inevitable and disruptions on one line have a “ripple effect” on all three lines.

The study will explore infrastructure improvements and service alternatives to address the above issues.

Here’s more from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority:

The first phase of the study will assess key issues and trends and document why improvements to the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines are necessary. Subsequent phases will include the development and evaluation of alternatives, as well as a thorough analysis of costs and benefits, with recommendation of a preferred alternative expected to occur by the fall of 2020.

Ultimately, the study will identify and analyze a range of potential alternatives before recommending a “locally preferred alternative” to move forward with federal environmental review, full design, and competition for federal funding. Over the next two years, Metro plans extensive outreach to engage the community, stakeholders, and transit experts to gather feedback and make recommendations.

More information about the study is available online.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Flash Flood Watch Today — In a flashback to yesterday’s weather alert, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch in effect from 2 p.m. through the evening today (June 18). Thunderstorms and heavy rainfall are expected throughout the region. [Fairfax Alerts]

Local Wealth Advisory Firm Acquired — Reston-based financial and investment advisory firm MTX Wealth Management LLC has been acquired by Cleveland-based MAI Capital Management LLC. MTX’s nine employees will transition to work for MAI out of its offices at 11710 Plaza America Drive. [Washington Business Journal]

Design Review Board Reviews Colts Neck Underpass — Reston Association’s independent agency will review a proposal by Ben Volta to transform the underpass into public art. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at RA headquarters. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Coates ES Principal Named County’s ‘Outstanding Principal’ of the Year

Jesse Kraft, the principal of Coates Elementary School since 2016, was named Fairfax County Public Schools 2019 Outstanding Principal.

Kraft was recognized for bringing people together and maintaining positivity wherever he goes. Josie Mani, a gifted education teacher who nominated Kraft for the award, said Kraft “has taken strides to make our community feel welcome and to partner with them as much as possible.”

“He maintains and active social media presence and even learned some Spanish so that he could further connect the school and community,” Mani wrote.

Kraft was recognized for gestures like flipping burgers at a school barbecue, offering fist bumps during the morning, and his frequent visits to classrooms. A teacher at heart, Kraft teaches positivity project lessons, offers quarterly grade-level assemblies and teaches upper level students about public speaking.

Parent Christine Crawford told FCPS that Kraft is “always visible at school and connects easily to students at all grade levels.”

Kraft also made sure all teachers were trained in classroom management techniques, which he says are key to a healthy learning environment.

It’s not the first time the educator and administrator was recognized for his accomplishments. He was named the county’s outstanding first year principal in 2010. In 2004, he was also nominated for teacher of the year.

He began his career in FCPS as a teacher at Newington Forest Elementary School in 1996, after which he served as an assistant principal at Westlawn and and Oak Hill elementary schools. In 2009, he was the principal at Providence Elementary School. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

Photo via FCPS

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Stuff the Bus Event Set for Saturday in Herndon

Over the summer, Fairfax County has been holding several “Stuff the Bus” events throughout the county. The food collection partnership helps individuals who need support during the summer.

A local collection event will be held on Saturday, June 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Safeway (413 Elden Street).

According to last year’s Youth Results Survey, roughly 8 percent of Fairfax County Public School students reported going hungry in the past month due to lack of food at home. Nearly 30 percent of FCPS students receive free or reduced price lunches.

Other “Stuff the Bus” events are planned throughout the county.

The partnership is made possible with the help of Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services, Office of Public-Private Partnerships, MV Transportation, Giant, Safeway and other community partners.

Video via Fairfax County Government/YouTube

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Monday Morning Notes

Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors to Hold Annual Public Hearing Tonight — Attendees will learn more about RCC’s plans for the future, including a status report on the renovation of the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center and the center’s annual report and strategic plan. The hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. at RCC Hunters Woods. [Reston Community Center]

Flash Flood Watch In Effect Today — A flash flood watch is in effect from 2 p.m. through this evening. Widespread thunderstorms and showers are expected. [National Weather Service]

Route 7 Widening Project to Provide Traffic Relief Soon — “The $313.9 million project is designed to ease congestion on a section of Route 7 that links northern and western Fairfax County and includes the busy Tysons area, which is undergoing a massive transformation of its own. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority provided $10 million in funding. Other money for the project comes from Fairfax County and the state.” [The Washington Post]

Overnight Closures of Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Airport Access Road Ramps Planned This Week — “The ramps from the eastbound Dulles Toll Road and the eastbound Dulles Airport Access Road to the southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway) general purpose lanes will be closed nightly Monday night, June 17 through Friday night, June 21 for bridge work as part of the Jones Branch Connector project, ” [Virginia Department of Transportation]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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UPDATED: Police Respond to Domestic Incident at Lake Newport

(Updated at 3 p.m.) A domestic incident prompted the closure of Lake Newport Road earlier today.

A suspect wanted on a felony warrant was arrested during the incident. Local police responded to a report about a family member having a dispute with the man at around 9 a.m. today (Friday).

The situation, which is contained to the 11700 block of Summerchase Circle, caused the police department to close Lake Newport Road between North Point Drive and Newport Spring Court.

Residents in the immediate neighborhood were told to remain in their homes until further notice. A reader told Reston Now that neighbors heard loud banging.

FCPD did not release any other details about the incident to Reston Now.

 

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During Special Meeting, Reston Association Mulls Fixes to Covenants and Design Review Process

(Updated at 2:57 p.m.) Reston Association’s covenants department is once again contemplating ways to streamline its services and address staffing issues.

At a special meeting yesterday (June 13) between its Board of Directors, the Design Review Board and other staff, Anna Donato, RA’s director of covenants administration, suggested temporary fixes, including starting design and review meetings at an earlier time and editing guidelines to allow more DRB projects to be completed without applications.

The suggestions are part of an effort to improve the covenants’ departments services and create more room for staff to complete property inspections, address home resale requests, and other issues not directly within the purview of the DRB.

The DRB is primarily focused on preserving the architectural integrity of Reston Association properties, while covenants typically involve issues related to  use and maintenance, which refers to the physical condition of properties. Covenants staff also provide support to the DRB, which is an independent agency within RA that reviews exterior improvements of properties within RA.

Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chairman, said that diluting the DRB’s role and process by limiting staff support or curtailing the DRB’s function is not sustainable fix for the “systemic problem” and “staffing crisis” that faces the covenants department.

New needs have changed the role of the covenants department over the last decade. The level of detail required for DRB applications has increased significantly and decision letters are much more details — departing from the days when applications were stamped with an “approved” label. Furthermore, redevelopment had generated more applications and RA recently started requiring its own properties to go through the DRB process.

Last year, the DRB processed 2,097 applications — up from 1,904 in 2016 and 1,835 in 2017.

Donato said workload increases justify the need for one full-time inspection, one full-time cluster specialist, and two vehicles to perform services, including property inspections.

Issues facing covenants staff have been a topic of discussion for at least a decade. 

In October 2017, staff contemplated ways to address covenants requests. In 2006, a study commissioned by RA assessed the efficiency, processes and organizational structure of the covenants department. 

That study by BDO Seidman LLP was brought to the attention of Donato several weeks ago. It laid out several problems with the department, including high turnover, no standardized training process for new hires, lack of retention, and significant manual and duplicated efforts.

The report suggested that the department clarify its goals and mission, revise its recruiting process and improve the department’s overall performance levels.

At-large Director Ven Iyer said he was concerned that RA’s covenants policies were driving away residents. In some cases, covenant inspectors flag longstanding issues that previous inspectors have not acknowledged — leaving some members to foot the bill of unanticipated issues.

Some RA members say the covenants process needs more teeth and consistency.

For example, when John Robinson bought his home, he says a covenants advisor listed necessary repairs required by the seller less than a week before closing.

“The structure is inherently broken if they can only create problems during the sale process and are not empowered to fix them,” Robinson said.

W. Neal Roseberry, a DRB member, disputed Iyer’s comments that RA’s design covenants were causing residents to move out. He said RA’s policies are designed to maintain property values and a desirable community.

RA’s CEO Hank Lynch said that he stands by covenants staff who work hard in stressful circumstances. He also stated that discussions about the report by BDO was “counter-productive.”

“If you don’t like the rules, go live somewhere else,” said Charlie Hoffman of the DRB said.

Discussions on solutions going forward will continue in the coming months.

In introductory remarks during the meeting, Cathy Baum, RA’s board president, also called out Reston Now for “irresponsible” reporting on issues facing the covenants department.

Baum, who is an elected by RA members, incorrectly stated that a Reston Now story left the impression staff had been interviewed for the story — even though the story explicitly stated staff remarks were referenced from a May 23 board meeting.

Reston Association also took issue with a recent poll about members’ experiences with the covenants department. Baum accused Reston Now of using the poll to “stir the pot of negative comments.”

“Irresponsible journalism or journalists have no place in this community,” she said.

Baum did not contact Reston Now about her concerns, although RA’s spokesperson contacted Reston Now about the poll, which he stated was being used to “drive comment engagement.”

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Planning Commission Approves Scaled Back Version of Reston Heights

After several deferrals, the Fairfax County Planning Commission finally approved plans to scale back JBG Smith’s Reston Heights development.

The developer is seeking to remove 215,000 square feet of office space and 3,600 square feet of retail from the mixed-use project, which is located at 11830 Sunrise Valley Drive.

But plans were delayed after commissioners expressed concerns about limited stormwater management on the site. The owners of 7-Eleven, which owns the Exxon gas station adjacent to the site, also raised concerns about sharing an access road between the two sites.

At a meeting on Wednesday, June 12, Hunter Mill District Commissioner John Carter said JBG Smith resolved all outstanding issues.

The road between the 7-Eleven parcel and JBG Smith’s property will remain open to vehicles and pedestrians.

The commission also added a condition to augment the proposal’s stormwater manager in order to make up for the loss of trees along Sunrise Valley Drive.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the project on June 25.

Photos via Fairfax County Government

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Friday Morning Notes

Silver Line Construction Snag Could Delay Opening — The contractor responding for building the new rail yard near Dulles Airport revealed their latest schedule slipped 67 days in just one month. The estimated completion date is now set for late July 2020. [WTOP]

Project to Widen Route 7 from Tysons to Reston Breaks Ground — The project held its groundbreaking ceremony yesterday (Thursday). It would add a third lane from Leesburg Pike in each direction from Reston to Tysons. [Tysons Reporter]

Triple Left Lane Closure Overnight on the Dulles Toll Road Next Week — Drivers should expect 20-minute stoppages nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, June 19 through the morning of Monday, June 24. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Town of Herndon Drafts First Bicycle Master Plan

The Town of Herndon is in the process of drafting its first bicycle master plan, which lays out a longterm plan for bicycle route locations and a vision for the town’s bicycle network.

The plan, which was discussed by the town’s Planning Commission at a meeting earlier this week, intends to promote cycling as an alternative mode of travel and improve connectivity for cyclists.

The plan notes that Herndon’s population density is high in comparison to other suburban communities. As expected redevelopment around Metrorail stations and downtown Herndon continues, town officials say they will need to better incorporate bicycle facilities in the town.

The current plan builds on the 2012 Fairfax County Bicycle Master Plan, which was endorsed by the Town Council and the town’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC).

Once approved by the Town Council, PBAC will evaluate the implemented of the plan on a yearly basis.

Currently, the town has nine active bicycling-related projects, including:

  • Bicycle lanes and a cycle track between Fairfax County Parkway: The project is nearing design completion. Construction is expected to begin in 2023.
  • A mixed-use trail on Chandon Park to connect Worldgate Trail to Van Buren Street: Construction is expected to begin this year as the project goes to construction biding.
  • A cycle track from Spring Street to Van Buren Street: The project is partially under construction and will be built in phases depending on the pace of private development.
  • Bicycle lanes on Van Buren Street from Spring Street to Herndon Parkway: Construction is expected to begin in late 2019.
  • Bicycle lanes on Sterling Road from Elden Street to Herndon Parkway: Funds were allocated in the town’s capital improvement plan and the project is in the early planning phase.
  • A mixed-use trail from Worldgate Drive to Herndon Metrorail Station: The project is fully planned and designed. Construction will likely begin in late 2019.
  • Folly Lick Regional Trail from Herndon Parkway to Center Street: Construction is expected to begin in late 2019 since the project is fully designed and planned.
  • Sharrows from Park Avenue to Van Buren Street — Construction is expected to begin this year.

The plan also suggests exploring guidelines and policies to ensure residents safely use personal transporters like electric scooters, Segways and pedal-assisted bikes.

Much of the plan’s success will depend on whether or not bicycling is seamlessly incorporated into the county’s existing and future infrastructure, as well as a balanced approach to transportation infrastructure improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. The plan suggests adopting a “complete streets” policy in order to guide decisions on the planning and design of infrastructure projects in the town.

Image via Town of Herndon

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Report: Amazon Moves to Acquire Herndon Property

VAData Inc., an Amazon.com subsidiary, is moving to acquire a Herndon property from an affiliate of Perspecta Inc., the Washington Business Journal reports.

Although the transaction has not closed yet, the 57-acre site located at 13600 EDS Drive went under contract several months ago, according to the report.

The property has an assessed value of $80.7 million.

Future plans for the site are unclear, but sources told WBJ that demolition and data centers are anticipated.

Here’s more from the story:

The site has changed hands a couple of times over the years, but the family tree leads back to H. Ross Perot and his Electronic Data Systems Corp. EDS was acquired by Hewlett-Packard Co. in 2008. HP then spun off and merged its enterprise services business, including EDS, with Computer Sciences Corp. to form DXC Technology. DXC’s public sector business was then merged in 2018 with Vencore Holding Corp. and KeyPoint Government Solutions to form Perspecta.

When it was launched, Perspecta listed 13600 EDS as its primary corporate office, but it has since relocated its headquarters to Conference Center Drive in Chantilly. Perspecta continues to maintain a presence in the building, according to public filings. The property’s owner is listed in Fairfax County records as Enterprise Services LLC.

VAData is Amazon’s datacenter unit, which has been rapidly expanding in Northern Virginia.

Map via Google Maps

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Pride Flag Stolen for Third Time in Three Months from Reston Church

A rainbow flag outside the Unitarian Universalist Church is missing for the third time in three months.

Rev. Debra Haffner says that the 11-foot flag was stolen on Tuesday, June 11.

The church has been very vocal in advocacy for LGBTQ rights. It organized the first ever Reston Pride Festival last year. This year, the festival was held at a new and larger location at Lake Anne Plaza.

“We are deeply saddened that some person or persons have chosen to steal our flag and hope that it will be returned to us. More, we hope for an opportunity to create an opportunity for restorative justice with that person or persons so that they will come to understand and accept all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” said Haffner.

The missing flag was reported to the Fairfax County Police Department, which is investigating who tore down the flag.

Haffner says she fears the incident qualifies as a hate crime. She says her church is open to purchasing a flag for any faith community that requests it.

We will continue to fly a rainbow flag on our property even if it means buying a new one every month. We hope that other churches, synagogues and mosques will put a rainbow flag on their property, so that all will know that people of every faith in Reston support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.”

Until this spring, a rainbow flag has flown on UUCR’s property since 2017 without incident.

File photo

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Thursday Morning Notes

Teens Rob Student Walking from Dogwood Elementary — “One teen has been arrested and authorities are searching for two others after police say they robbed a student walking home from school in Reston on Monday. The incident happened at around 1:07 p.m. on June 10 in the 12300 block of Glade Drive.” [Reston Patch]

Reston Hospital Center Recognized for Patient Safety Practices — “Reston Hospital Center (RHC) is being recognized by Healthgrades as a 2019 Patient Safety Excellence Award recipient. This award recognizes the nation’s top hospitals for patient safety, those hospitals providing excellent performance in safeguarding patients from serious, potentially preventable complications during their hospital stay.[The Connection]

Take a Break Concert Series Tonight — Enjoy a mix of a capella Motown, doo-wop and soul at this weekly summer concert, which takes place at Lake Anne Plaza from 7-9 p.m. [Reston Community Center]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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