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by Dave Emke — August 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm 23 Comments

As input sessions on a proposed capital improvement project at Hook Road Recreation Area will soon begin, one member of the Reston Association Board of Directors has big questions.

Ray Wedell, an At-Large director who lived on Hook Road for seven years, has been adamantly against the project proposal from the start. He says the future of that park must be evaluated in a “deeper and more meaningful way” than what is currently being approached by RA.

In a five-page statement (download in full) that he recently presented to the Board, CEO Cate Fulkerson and RA staff members, Wedell argues the emphasis should be on preserving the “beautiful and peaceful open space” at the park rather than on enhancements to what he views as little-used facilities.

I submitted this as part of the record before the first budget meeting, which I could not attend. I asked it be part of the record. Having heard nothing from any of the 18 recipients in the RA brain trust concerning my piece, I brought it up at the next budget meeting (very lightly attended), and again asked that it be included as part of the record,” Wedell told Reston Now. “Although politely added to the record, my sense is that it will be buried. The procedure to follow on this Hook Road project (and maybe even the ultimate outcome) [has] already been determined long ago. My opinions will be circumvented as much as possible.”

Wedell’s opinions focus in large part upon changes to the eastern portion of the property, which features four tennis courts, a tennis practice wall and a basketball court — all amenities the director says are greatly underused.

There are four tennis courts that are lit at night. There is amazingly little use of these courts during most of the year, as I have often documented. There is also no check that I can ever decipher that the few people playing there are actually Reston residents paying for the privilege. Alongside the tennis courts is a practice tennis wall, another wasted space rarely used. There is also a paved basketball court. This is almost never used.

Instead of renovating these facilities, which he says would be “expensive and unnecessary,” Wedell says they are perfect places to increase parking at the recreation area.

All of this territory can be beautifully re-purposed at minimal expense, and likely less upkeep. Furthermore, my proposal could draw heavily from private donations, whereas none of the retrofit projects to keep Hook Road as is would do so.

(more…)

by Dave Emke — August 23, 2017 at 10:15 am 18 Comments

Reduced pool hours in the 2017 schedule drew the ire of many in the Reston community.

Now that the season is nearing its end, those members and others will have the opportunity to share feedback from their summer experiences.

The Reston Association Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee will be made available on Sunday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon during an open house at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue). They will be collecting member input on the 2017 pool schedule, as well as thoughts and suggestions about what should be done in 2018.

This year, no pools were open on weekdays prior to Memorial Day. (In 2016, both the North Shore and Ridge Heights pools were open from 1-7 p.m. each weekday beginning May 14.) Through June 23, only four pools were open on weekdays, with one (Glade) open only three hours a night.

In addition, as school is starting next week — one week earlier than in past years — North Shore and Ridge Heights will be the only two pools open the week preceding Labor Day, from 4-7 p.m. each evening. However, RA has announced that Lake Audubon and Lake Newport pools will both be opened for Labor Day weekend.

North Shore and Ridge Heights pools will remain open on weekends and weeknights through Sept. 24.

Mike Leone, communications director for Reston Association, told Reston Now in April that the 2017 schedule was developed as part of an effort to “identify significant cost savings.”

“During the 2017 budget development process, the Board directed staff to identify significant cost savings in the budget to accommodate other strategic goals. Based on facility usage data collected over the past three years that shows a decline in pool attendance as well as feedback from the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors approved pool schedule options by which the proposed aquatics budget could be reduced while still serving the interests of the membership as a whole.”

Members brought up concerns about the pool schedule during general member input sessions earlier this year. Those suggestions are being considered by the RA Board of Directors as part of their budget process.

Anyone who has input to share but is unable to attend the Sept. 10 event is invited to email comments to [email protected].

The Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee is scheduled to make a report on the issue to the Board of Directors at a budget work session Sept. 18.

by Dave Emke — August 23, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

School Board Vote Approaches — The special election to fill a vacancy for at-large Fairfax County School Board position through the end of 2019 is Tuesday. The last day to absentee vote in person will be Saturday at the Fairfax County Government Center. [Fairfax County]

Blood Drive Slated for Monday — The Inova Blood Donor Services bloodmobile will be at Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) from 1:30-6 p.m. Monday. All donors will receive a free T-shirt. [Inova Blood Donor Services]

Future One Reston Town Center Building Showcased — Real-estate developer Akridge is promoting its 23-story One Reston Town Center building, coming to the corner of Reston Parkway and Bowman Towne Drive, near the Spectrum shopping center. It will feature 420,000 square feet of office space and 15,000 square feet of retail. Check out the specifics in a Washington Business Journal ad. [WBJ]

IT Solutions Company Comes to Reston — Govplace, a leading solutions provider for the public sector, has expanded its operations with the opening of a new 14,367-square foot office in Reston. The office space is located at 11111 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 200. [Govplace]

by Dave Emke — August 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm 2 Comments

A meeting next week will allow Reston Association members a chance to learn more about a future project at the Hook Road Recreation Area.

“This first meeting on the Hook Road Recreation Area is intended to be a kick-off for the project,” according to Sabrina Tadele, RA’s board and committee liaison. “[It] will be followed by multiple community input meetings this October soliciting member feedback on what improvements (if any) should be made at this site.”

At the meeting, slated for Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive):

  • Members will receive an overview of the process undertaken by Reston Association’s volunteer Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee to select this site
  • The schedule for future community input meetings will be shared
  • Staff will provide an outline of final project deliverables
  • The design consultant engaged for the project will be introduced (This firm has been selected to help facilitate the development of a master plan for the site based on community input and the guidance of the Hook Road Working Group)
  • The opportunity to serve on the Hook Road Working Group will be highlighted for any members interested in contributing to the development of this project on an ongoing basis.

The Reston Association Board of Directors voted at its July meeting to form the group. The group’s purpose will be to provide to the Board, by January, recommendations for implementing solutions that affects both park users and adjacent property owners. The recommendations are to be determined after the series of public input meetings, in coordination with the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee and the project design firm.

The group’s recommendations, according to its purpose, should:

  • Enhance the use of Hook Road Recreation Area through facility renovations and improvements including but not limited to restroom facility additions and evaluation of existing amenities;
  • Improve landscaping and hardscaping;
  • Increase accessibility and improve safety for users; and,
  • Fit within the budget constraints set by the Board.

The park was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated last year. “Full-facility enhancement” is part of the new capital project methodology that was adopted by the RA board in 2016. The idea is to take a facility that has pieces of replacement work in the plans in the capital reserve study and, instead, doing comprehensive work to upgrade the facility all at once.

In December, the Board authorized the allocation of $50,000 from the Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund for the purpose of developing design concept plans related to the Hook Road project, which may help to resolve any current site configuration challenges that may exist based on community input.

During Board discussion of the project at its March meeting, At-Large Director Ray Wedell was especially vocal in his opposition to the project. During an animated speech, he said it is “an excellent field as it sits” and “what Reston should represent.”

“For the life of me, I have no idea what you people are going to propose to change it,” he said. “[People who live near the park] are quite content with how it is right now.”

The Hook Road Recreation Area was originally developed in 1965, with additions of tennis and basketball amenities in 1973. Since, the property has remained relatively unchanged.

Photo courtesy Reston Association

by Dave Emke — August 22, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Hot Again Today — Once again, Fairfax County emergency officials want to make sure residents are aware of the dangers of excessive heat. Temperatures are expected to again reach the 90s today, with a heat index topping 100. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Safety, Health More Urged for School Year — School starts next week, and Fairfax County officials want to make sure all the information residents need is being shared. Topics emphasized include the need to watch for stopped school buses, where to go for anxiety and stress relief, how to pack a healthy lunch and more. [Fairfax County]

‘Fake News’ Seminar Tonight — George Mason University’s School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, along with the Fairfax County library system, is sponsoring a workshop titled “News Blues and How to Defuse.” It will take place tonight at 7 p.m. at the Centreville Regional Library. [WTOP]

Herndon Firm Working on Tank Protection — Herndon-based Artis is working on Iron Curtain, defense technology that would protect US Army tanks from rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles. [Business Insider]

by Dave Emke — August 21, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

(This article was updated at about 4:15 p.m. after Fairfax County Fire and Rescue provided a press release on the incident.)

Work is continuing as usual today at Bechtel (12011 Sunset Hills Road) after a Sunday fire on the building’s 11th floor.

Affected employees remain at work Monday but have been moved to other areas of the building, said Iva Zagar, Bechtel spokesperson.

“[Our facilities team] has been really helpful to the people who have been affected, to point them in the right direction,” she said. “I haven’t heard that anybody can’t do work, so everything is smooth this morning.”

The two-alarm fire before 8 a.m. Sunday at the One Reston Overlook building was electrical in nature, said Bill Delaney, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue public information officer. It involved a junction box around a set of work stations, he said, but how the box failed remains under investigation.

“They know it started there, but they’re still trying to figure out exactly what occurred,” Delaney said.

A restoration crew is at the site Monday working to clean up damage caused by the flames and accompanying smoke. According to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, damages from the fire are estimated at about $40,000. About 20 employees were working in the building at the time of the blaze; however, no one was reported injured.

“The good news is, the fire sprinklers did their job — they were able to contain the fire,” Delaney said. “Then our folks got there and were able to put the remainder of the fire out, but it did generate a good deal of smoke, and there was some damage as well from the actual flames.”

Light smoke damage was also reported in the 12th floor, according to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

Bechtel is the largest construction and civil engineering company in the United States, and is one of the largest privately owned companies in the nation. Its Reston location is its nuclear, security and environmental business office.

by Dave Emke — August 21, 2017 at 10:15 am 5 Comments

There will be three seats available on the Reston Community Center Board of Governors come October, as three incumbents come to the end of their three-year terms.

As the nomination period ended last week, though, only three names are on the list — those three incumbents.

Bill Keefe, William Penniman and Vicky Wingert all applied for another term on the Board. No other candidates stepped forward.

Each of the incumbents have candidate statements posted on the Reston Community Center website.

Board seats are filled by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, with guidance from the results of a community preference poll. Voting in the poll is Sept. 8-29, with the county BoS making its decision the next month. Each property in Small District 5 (SD5) will receive a ballot in the mail. Mail-in ballots must be received by no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, while walk-in and online ballots can be submitted through 5 p.m. the following day.

Leila Gordon, RCC executive director, said the poll must be held even though there are only incumbents on the list.

“We have no leeway on holding the poll if only the same number of people run as there are seats open,” she said. “Per our Memorandum of Understanding with Fairfax County, we are obligated to have the Poll every year.”

A candidates’ forum will be held Monday, Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at CenterStage at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road).

Headshots courtesy Reston Community Center. From left: Bill Keefe, William Penniman and Vicky Wingert.

by Dave Emke — August 21, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Enjoy the Eclipse! — Remember to keep your eyes safe as you check out the celestial display this afternoon. If you take any photos during the event, share them with us at [email protected] and we will consider publishing them this afternoon. [Fairfax County/YouTube]

New Labor Day Pool Hours — Lake Audubon, Lake Newport, North Shore and Ridge Heights pools will be open Labor Day weekend, until 7 p.m. each day. [Reston Association]

In-Custody Death at Adult Detention Center — A 46-year-old male inmate was found unresponsive at about 7:30 p.m. Friday, and he was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later at Fairfax Hospital. An investigation is underway. [Fairfax County Police Department]

School Board Candidates’ Forum This Week — A special election to fill the vacant At-Large seat on the Fairfax County School Board is Aug. 29. A candidate forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at McLean High School. [LWVFA]

Reston Station Building Lights Get Thumbs Up — Last week, we asked what you think about the new lighting on the 1900 Metro Plaza building. Nearly three-fifths of our readers said they like the color-changing display; while only about a quarter said they don’t. [Reston Now]

by Dave Emke — August 20, 2017 at 10:15 am 1 Comment

A two-alarm fire Sunday morning on the 11th floor of a building in the 12000 block of Sunset Hills Road has been contained, officials say.

The fire started in a cubicle, Deputy Chief Dan Shaw said.

“Upon arrival, [firefighters] found a working fire on the 11th floor,” he said. “The fire was being contained by a sprinkler system that had successfully activated.”

Units from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue stations 4 and 36 responded. The second alarm was sounded for resources, Shaw said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. We will provide more information when it becomes available.

by Dave Emke — August 18, 2017 at 10:15 am 3 Comments

It’s official: Restonians will have another opportunity next month to share their thoughts about a proposed zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community district.

Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning will hold a fourth community meeting on the topic Monday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Lake Anne Elementary School (11510 North Shore Drive), according to information provided this week by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ office.

This follows up on three meetings that were held in May on the proposal from the county DPZ, which would increase the limit on people per acre in Reston’s PRC District from 13 to 16. This would allow for 18,737 more people beyond the current cap in Reston over time, DPZ officials say. Reston’s PRC District is currently at about 11.9 persons per acre.

The amendment would also allow for the Board of Supervisors to be able to approve individual developments in excess of 50 dwelling units per acre in Transit Station Areas within the PRC and when in accordance with Comprehensive Plan recommendations.

At May’s meetings, residents expressed their concern that the county was trying to rush the amendment through the approval process. They were especially upset when the third meeting was held in an open-house format rather than as a question-and-answer session.

The DPZ had originally hoped to bring the plan before the Board of Supervisors in July, followed by a Planning Commission public hearing in September and the Board public hearing in October. It now has those projected dates pushed back to November, December and January, respectively.

Map courtesy Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning

by Dave Emke — August 18, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Library Book Sale This Weekend — The Friends of the Reston Regional Library back-to-school book sale began Thursday and will last through Sunday. All books were donated, and all proceeds benefit the library and library programs. [Friends of the Reston Regional Library]

Registration Underway for Herndon Parks Programs — Town of Herndon residents can now sign up for fall classes from the town’s Parks and Recreation Department. Others can start signing up Aug. 22. [Herndon Parks & Rec]

Reston Brothers Develop Anti-Stress Powder — Christian, Mark and Paul D’Andrea have developed StressKiller, a powdered drink mix featuring stress-relief supplements. GNC has signed on to sell the product, as has a major drugstore chain. [Washington Business Journal]

Solar Eclipse is Monday — The Fairfax County Park Authority says if you want to enjoy the eclipse as much as possible, you should arrive at viewing locations early and be ready with your eyewear. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

by Dave Emke — August 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm 3 Comments

The long journey toward a permanent building for Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church (11400 North Shore Drive) is a little closer to its conclusion.

After discussion during Tuesday’s meeting of Reston’s Design Review Board (video), approval was given for the site plan for the 6,000-square-foot building. The new structure will be located on the opposite side of the parking lot from the current, temporary church building. The project still needs to go through the county approval process, along with further local approval.

Church representatives said they would like to keep the current building — a prefabricated double-wide structure — in place even after the new building is completed. They said the extra space would be required until an addition could be added to the new building.

However, Design Review Board members balked at that idea.

“I work with churches regularly, and I know every church out there would want to hold onto that building,” said Neal Roseberry, DRB vice chair. “Frankly, it’s our job as the Review Board to say, ‘Hey, it was temporary when it was approved over 10 years ago; it needs to come down now because you’re finally building your permanent church.’ That’s my position at least of why we should help you do what you said you were doing originally.”

The church is located between the Crescent Apartments and the Northgate Condominiums. DRB told the church representatives there needs to be more communication between them and their neighbors in regard to the development. Andrew Ivovich, representing the Northgate community, spoke during the meeting regarding the lack of communication.

“It’s much clearer what you’re proposing at this meeting … [but] I do, however, wish that it was presented with a little more time for us to review,” Ivovich said. “I’m glad you met with some of the community members, [but] we have not heard from you. We are your neighbors too, so we would love to sit down and meet with you guys.”

Ivovich, along with DRB members, shared questions about removal of trees and retention of a vegetative buffer.

“I think the site plan as you presented it is much more modest, [with] much less tree removal,” Roseberry said. “The landscaping along the path and paying attention to North Shore Drive is probably the biggest weakness in what’s still there.”

In addition to removal and replanting of trees, a portion of Reston Association’s Blue Trail would need to be moved for the construction. Larry Butler, RA’s director of parks, said there has been “good discussion” about those plans. He added that there is an RA easement that will need to be re-routed for the work.

The future addition to the proposed building, for which they are asking permission to clear space ahead of time, is also included in the church’s plan. Mel De Gree, representing the church’s building project, said it is hoped that it would be added within five years of the building’s construction.

The Design Review Board approved the plan as presented, with several conditions. Among those are the development of an updated landscape plan and meetings with the community members. Results of those conversations, along with other provisions from the DRB, are to be presented at a future meeting.

The full presentation packet provided to the DRB during the meeting can be downloaded from the Board’s website.

Illustration via Waldon Community Architects

by Dave Emke — August 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Free Concert Tonight at Lake Anne — The “Take A Break” concert series at Lake Anne Plaza will continue tonight with a performance by pan-Celtic group Iona. [Lake Anne Plaza]

Outreach Session on Bikeshare Today — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans to bring 10 new locations of Capital Bikeshare to Reston, including nine south of the Dulles Toll Road. A public outreach session on the proposed locations is scheduled for today from 1-5 p.m. at Glade Pool (11550 Glade Drive). [FCDOT]

SAIC Gets $39M Task Order to Support Marines — The Reston-based technology integrator has received the order, from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic, to provide engineering services in support of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Operations Center. [SAIC]

Verity Commercial Again Named to Inc. 5000 — For the second consecutive year, the Reston-based commercial real estate company has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. [Verity Commercial]

by Dave Emke — August 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm 8 Comments

Efforts to construct a new Lake Anne Fellowship House facility are continuing to progress.

Fellowship Square Foundation and the Community Preservation and Development Corporation are moving forward with zoning approval and entitlements needed for the redevelopment of the affordable senior apartment community located at 11448-11450 North Shore Drive, they recently said.

“As Reston rents skyrocket, affordable rental opportunities for those seniors and people with disabilities and low incomes are scarce,” said Eddie Byrne, FSF board member. “Fellowship Square is dedicated to ensuring that there will be not just affordable, but state-of-the art housing in our community.”

The new building, which is planned for the eastern portion of the property, would replace all 240 apartment units in the existing 1970s-era facility. Residents would remain in their current living space until the new facility is complete, and after they are transferred the old buildings would be destroyed. The portion of the property left unused would be sold for residential development, and the proceeds from the sale would help support the cost of the LAFH building project.

Local brokerage firm MAC Realty Advisors has been selected as a broker for this portion of the site.

The filing of the entitlements application is targeted for early autumn. Its approval would be followed by final design, building permits and construction. Project completion is targeted for the third quarter of 2021.

The collaboration between Fellowship Square and CPDC comes after several years of on-again, off-again plans for redevelopment of the property. Most recently, in 2013, the foundation had an agreement with Cafritz Interests and Novus Development for new housing on the site. That effort fell through by September 2014, which the foundation said was “due to our inability to advance our land use proposal in a manner that will produce the best possible outcome for our residents.”

CPDC is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing.

“We are excited about moving this project forward through the necessary County and local approvals,” said Christopher LoPiano, CPDC senior vice president.

For more information, visit www.fellowshipsquare.org or www.cpdc.org.

Illustration via Fellowship Square Foundation and CPDC

by Dave Emke — August 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The goal is to keep the tall oaks in Tall Oaks.

That’s what representatives of developer Jefferson Apartment Group and architects from KTGY told Reston’s Design Review Board during their meeting Tuesday (video). JAG is working toward ironing out the details of the future redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center, approved by the county last year.

At a meeting between the parties in July, members of the Design Review Board told the applicants about their concern regarding how the new development — which will include multifamily residential buildings, two-over-two condominiums and townhouses for a total of 156 residential units — would look from Wiehle Avenue. This month, the developers said they listened.

“There obviously are some constraints, so we’re being more surgical in how we place our trees in order to get the desired look,” said Mike Medick of KTGY.

In order to preserve the sight line from the North Shore Drive/Wiehle Avenue intersection to the southwest corner of the site, Medick said architects have moved entrance walkways and pushed them closer together to allow for the planting of seven large canopy trees. Medick said those will include red, white and pin oak trees.

At planting, the trees will be 16 feet tall. In a decade, they will be about 22 feet tall — reaching the third floor of the townhomes behind them. When they are fully grown, Medick said, they will fully conceal the development from the intersection.

“We’re comfortable that given this planting scheme … we can still get this natural feel for the frontage of North Shore [Drive],” Medick said. “[This will] emphasize again that theme that is so important here, the namesake of the project, the tall oaks.”

Grace Peters, land planner and landscape architect member of the DRB, said she would like to see more down elsewhere on the property to increase tree cover.

“I would appreciate it if the applicant could look into providing additional landscaping where possible [and] save more trees as much as they can,” Peters said.

The developers also responded to comments provided by the DRB last month regarding architectural elements of the buildings themselves and the design of site amenities. The changes were met with mostly positive comments from the DRB, with continued comments about small details.

“We’re faced now in Reston with jumping away from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s architecturally, and I think this effectively does that,” said Richard Newlon, DRB vice chair. “I think you guys have come a long way. I’m relatively satisfied with these [buildings] at this point.”

The DRB voted to approve the general architecture plan as presented, with stipulations that the rooftop units on condominium units be screened, that the application return with material and color palettes for final approval, and that the other comments presented during Tuesday’s meeting be considered as well.

The DRB also voted to approve the landscape plan, with a comment asking the developers to intensify landscaping along North Shore Drive, as well as in the middle and along the northern edge of the property, if at all possible.

Illustrations via Jefferson Apartment Group/KTGY

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