Reston, VA

Metro’s services are gearing up for a return to a new normal.

More buses, trains and expanded hours of service are planned to begin this Sunday (Aug. 16), restoring most service to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Metrorail plans to add 15 hours of more service per week. Opening times will also return to normal, with the system closing two hours later each night in anticipation of ridership increases after Labor Day.

The system is expected to restore roughly 75 percent of its pre-pandemic service beginning August 23. Buses would operate until midnight and weekday service would return with 174 routes.

The opening of six Fairfax County stations on the Silver Line — including Wiehle-Reston East — is also on track to open on Sunday.

Here’s more from Metro on the planned service changes:

Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. on Sundays and close daily at 11 p.m.

Weekdays Red Line trains will operate every 5 minutes during peak periods and 12 minutes off-peak; all others lines every 8 minutes during peak periods and 15 minutes off-peak.

On weekends Red Line trains will operate every 12 minutes; all other lines every 15 minutes.

Six stations west of Ballston re-open – McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Wiehle-Reston East and West Falls Church.

Arlington Cemetery Station remains closed as Arlington National Cemetery is currently closed to the general public. 

Face masks or covering are required to travel on Metro, including at stations, trains, buses and MetroAccess vehicles.

Metro also warns that social distancing may be impossible due to projected ridership increases. Customers can consider traveling during off-peak hours.

Photo via Fairfax Connector

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Reston Association is encouraging residents to avoid contact with Lake Thoreau after a major algae bloom has taken over parts of the lake.

Lab testing is underway to determine if the algae bloom is harmful. Residents should avoid contact with the water until algae concentrations return to “acceptable levels,” according to a statement released by RA last night (Wednesday).

It’s unclear if the bloom was directly caused by RA’s recent treatment of the lake for Hydrilla, an invasive plant that had taken over roughly 30 percent of the lake. Typically, algae blooms thrive when there are more nutrients available for algae growth.

Some RA members criticized the association for attempting to treat the lake late in the summer season.

I’m at a loss how the RA dumped a bunch of chemicals into a healthy lake without thinking through the consequences of the outcome,” one RA member wrote on Facebook.

Others called the issue a “man-made” problem.

“The algae bloom is due to the irresponsible decision to treat the entire lake at one time for hydrilla growth very late into the season when temperatures were at an all time high! This is not a natural occurrence but a man-made problem,” an RA member wrote.

Jeannine Santoro said she’s at a loss for how “RA dumped a bunch of chemicals into a healthy lake without thinking through the consequences of the outcome.”

Here’s more from RA told Reston Now on whether the Hydrilla treatment caused the bloom:

Algae blooms can be caused as a result of multiple factors. This includes water temperature, air temperature, amount of nitrogen and phosphorous present in the lake, amount of rain, and runoff from the Watershed that can carry fertilizers. The main sources of nutrients are runoff from the watershed and phosphorous released from the anerobic zone of the lake. Anerobic decomposition releases phosphorous. While the hydrilla may be contributing, it is not the causal factor.

RA acknowledged that summer is not the best time period to treat the lake. But the association wanted to see if the grass carp would impact the Hydrilla plant before using herbicide management methods. The dying hydrilla is expected to sink to the bottom of the lake and decay in the next few weeks.

Harmful algae can cause skin rashes and gastrointestinal illnesses. Anyone concerned about the effects of exposure to a bloom should contact the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom hotline at 1-888-238-6154.

In previous years, RA stocked more grass carp — a freshwater fish species — to help control the plant. But after the fish proved ineffective, RA hired a contractor to treat the Hydrilla, which has floated to the surface after the July 29 treatment.

RA believes the blue-green algae bloom happened as Hydrilla plant began to die, creating conditions primed for the bloom to thrive.

“The blue-green algae bloom in Lake Thoreau has the potential, if concentrations are high enough, to provide microsystins, which can be harmful to both humans and pets,” RA wrote in a statement.

The decomposing Hydrilla on the surface of the water will sink to the lake bottom and decay within the next few weeks. For this reason, the association is not removing the decomposing hydrilla.

RA currently has no plans to treat the bloom until more appropriate conditions — cooler air and water temperature — occur. Treating the bloom as the Hyrdilla plant dies could compromise the dissolved oxygen levels at the lake and put aquatic life in danger.

In the future, RA hopes to explore better ways to manage aquatic plants on the lake.

One option includes treating the plants easy in the season when they begin to come up. This would require three low-dosage treatments — a decision that must “must be made way before the plants are a problem,” RA said.

RA did not treat the water earlier this year because the grass carp were stocked in 2018.

Photos courtesy Jeannine Santoro and staff

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Thursday Morning Notes

Hunter Mill Road Reopens After Flooding — Hunter Mill Road, which was closed in both directions at Hunter Station Road, is now open. The road closed due to high water late last night. [Fairfax County Police Department]

County Schools Looking for Teachers — Fairfax County Public Schools has begun hiring teachers and other staff for a number of positions. Two job fairs will be held on August 19. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Wiehle Pedestrian Crossing Study Group to Meet Today — The Wiehle Pedestrian Crossing Study Group will meet virtually today via Zoom at 9 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Several local faith-based groups are partnering to take part in a car rally for racial justice.

Congregants from area churches will gather on Wednesday, Aug. 26 for the rally, which is intended to raise awareness about “persistent and pervasive racial inequities that have led to violence and discrimination against people of color,” according to event organizers.

Amanda Andere, an event organizer, said all community members are invited to attend the event, which builds on the momentum of national, state and local protests following the death of George Floyd.

As a church we have been in reflection to our response to the continued racial justice awakening since May and have been asked by local faith leaders to do something as one of the original Black churches in Reston. We feel the call for racial justice needs continued attention,” Andere said.

So far, the following congregations are set to take part in the rally:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church
  • St. Thomas a’ Becket Catholic Church
  • Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation
  • Reston Unitarian Universalists Congregation
  • Washington Plaza Baptist Church 
  • Rev. Jerome 

The event takes place from 6-7 p.m. in the parking lot of the St. Thomas à Becket Church (1421 Wiehle Avenue).

As a church we have been in reflection to our response to the continued racial justice awakening since May and have been asked by local faith leaders to do something as one of the original Black churches in Reston. We feel the call for racial justice needs continued attention.”

Photo via of Herndon Car Rally via Deborah Smith Reilly/Facebook

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Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman wasn’t planning to explore the possibility of running for public office earlier this year.

Pressing issues from the ongoing pandemic and Black Lives Matter Movement after police killed George Floyd inspired Perryman to explore jumping into Virginia’s lieutenant governor race.

“It was really born out of the crisis we are seeing,” Perryman said. “This was not something that was in the cards for me when I first started this year.”

Already familiar with how to elect local Democrats from his work for Virginia’s Democratic Party, Perryman said that the lieutenant governor position would give him the most leverage to advocate change.

In addition to his role as Fairfax County NAACP’s president, Perryman works for the Internet Association. Previously, he served as counsel for the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He practiced civil litigation in Texas and D.C. after attending Vanderbilt University.

Current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, is eyeing a run for governor in 2021. The election for Fairfax’s seat will be held next November.

So far, Del. Hala Ayala (D-51st) and Paul Goldman, the former chair of Virginia’s Democratic Party, and have announced they will vie for Fairfax’s seat. In addition to Perryman, Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-31st) and Norfolk Councilmember Andria McClellan are considering running for the position.

Currently, Perryman said he is working with his team to figure out how they can best “serve Virginians” and that they haven’t set a date to officially announce his candidacy. Perryman shared with Reston Now what some of his top issues are.

Perryman said that extending the eviction moratorium is one of his main priorities, noting that he’s already been advocating for the extension in Virginia with the NAACP since the pandemic started. 

“The federal government did not provide enough assistance to get people through this crisis and now I think, rather cruelly, allowing people to be evicted when all they did was adhere to what the government told them to do,” Perryman told Reston Now.

Though the Virginia Supreme Court extended the eviction moratorium through early September, Perryman said this isn’t enough time for people to recover from the pandemic’s economic fallout.

“It really depends on how long it takes the federal government to get financial assistance to those people in need,” he said.

Allocation of the CARES Act funding, which allows states to extend unemployment benefits to independent contractors, is yet another area that needs work, according to Perryman. “Here in Virginia, what we can do better is the unemployment insurance that is available.”

People had to wait weeks for Virginia to sort out the delays with unemployment payments. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.7 percent in January before skyrocketing in the spring due to the pandemic.

Perryman said that unemployment benefits should be more widely accessible for all kinds of workers as long as they can prove their income was interrupted by the pandemic.

Perryman attributed Virginia’s unemployment office being short-staffed — “It wasn’t up to par for what was coming” — as a reason for the delays and suggested that there is an opportunity to revamp the department and hire new people.

Right now, Perryman is focused on grassroots fundraising. He managed to raise over $80,000, all of which came from individuals — not corporations or political action committees — in the first 10 days of the campaign, Perryman tweeted.

“I’m relying on small-dollar donations from the community,” he said.

His next steps include meeting with community activists and elected officials. No matter what happens in the next few months, Perryman said it’s crucial that voters pay attention to state elections.

While voter fatigue is possible with the tensions around the upcoming elections this fall, Perryman said people need to think about the changes they want to see both locally and nationally.

“People understand we are in unprecedented times,” Perryman said. “None of us thought we’d be sanitizing our groceries, wearing masks and talking only via Zoom. We can’t give up or get tired. We have to essentially rebuild the society we are living in.”

Photo courtesy Sean Perryman

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JINYA Ramen Bar will open in in Reston Town Center this Friday (August 14).

The restaurant is takeout and delivery online due the COVID-19 pandemic at the new location (11964 Market Street). Orders can be placed online or via common delivery platforms like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Indoor dining is expected to resume in the fall. Items on the menu include mini tacos, rice bowls, ramen, curry, and salads.

For the first 10 days of business, the RTC location will offer a pork-based ramen bowl called Tonkotsu Black Ramen for $10. Other special crisis include $8 for three cocktails and $8 for chicken tenders with beers.

Here’s more from the company on the special items being offered:

The Tonkotsu Black Ramen boasts a satisfying pork broth simmered for 20 hours, balanced with fresh thin noodles and garlic oil, and topped with pork chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, garlic chips, fried onion and spicy sauce. JINYA provides a wide range of ramen bowls in addition to salads, rice and curry bowls, mini tacos, and small plates. 

JINYA’s selected cocktail specials include the Garden of Todai-Ji with matcha-infused tequila, rose water, basil, simple syrup, lime and prosecco. The other two options are the JINYA Manhattan with Filibuster Boondoggler Whiskey and the Purple Dragon Mule. 

The Reston location will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday through Sunday.

The chain has several locations across the country, including Fairfax, North Bethesda, and the District.

Photo via JINYA

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Report on Oral Health in Virginia — “Gaps in oral health access and utilization between lower-income and higher-income Northern Virginians are as profound as they were a decade ago, report cites.” [Northern Virginia Health Foundation]

Cornerstones to Host Forum on Economic Stability — The Reston-based nonprofit organization is hosting a forum with elected officials on economic recovery in Northern Virginia after the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum takes place online tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. [Cornerstones]

Coronavirus Collides with Cardboard Boat Regatta — “Reston Historic Trust & Museum canceled its fourth annual Cardboard Boat Regatta due to the coronavirus pandemic. In its place the organization presents the 2020 Cardboard Challenge during the entire month of August.” [The Connection]

Reston Association Announces More Pool Openings — Season four, which runs from August 24 through September 7, will feature the pools at Glade, Golf Course Island, Lake Newport and Ridge Heights. The pools at Lake Newport and Ridge Heights will be open for season five from September 8-20. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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At the Reston Hospital Center, staff members are seeing a decline in both COVID-19 and non-COVID-related patients.

Compared to August of 2019, Reston Hospital Center Emergency Room admissions are down 20 percent and the hospital only had six COVID-19 patients currently, which is the lowest number since May, according to David Jacobs, the chairman and medical director for Reston Hospital Center’s emergency department.

But, this trend is concerning, Jacobs said — especially when it comes to non-COVID related visits.

The downward trend is partially due to people avoiding the emergency room in fear of catching COVID-19 at the facility. Additionally, people aren’t coming in close contact with others, and therefore avoiding catching other communicable diseases, Jacobs added.

Jacobs says he’s concerned over the drop in admissions since this means people might not be seeking help when they need it, leading to medical complications that otherwise would have been avoidable.

Examples of this include not being able to diagnose appendicitis in time or someone ignoring the beginning stages of a heart attack, Jacobs said.

To keep people safe when they come into the emergency room, the Reston Hospital Center has set up strict protocols, according to Jacobs. These include separating people with COVID-19 from other patients, use of personal protective equipment, regular temperature checks, the requirement of face masks for anyone who enters the building and frequent cleaning.

When considering a visit to the emergency room, Jacobs said there is little risk of catching COVID-19 at the facility since staff members stick to the health protocols set in place. It is far more dangerous to ignore symptoms and avoid seeking medical help, he said.

Jacobs said people should seek immediate medical attention when they notice warning signs such as:

  • difficulty speaking
  • unusual and sudden weakness in legs or arms
  • chest pain
  • new or worsening abdominal pain

One grievance Jacobs said he has heard repeatedly from patients is that they find it difficult to schedule a time to meet with their regular health care providers.

“I think the whole medical system is readjusting and struggling with how to safely see patients,” he said, adding that Reston Hospital Center has availability for people who need to be seen. “We are open and we have capacity.”

Practitioners are also concerned about an increase in drug and alcohol abuse.

“I think more people are out of work and have more time on their hands,” he said adding that people have also been coming in with mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts that can feed off from stress associated with the pandemic.

Though the medical facility doesn’t have a detox center on-site, it does have medical professionals who can give consultations and direct people towards further help.

Some good news is on the horizon. Unlike elsewhere in the country, Jacobs said he hasn’t noticed a rise in child abuse or domestic violence cases at Reston Hospital Center.

“I’ve certainly heard and read about that but can’t say that I’ve experienced that or heard about a spike in the Reston area,” he said. “I think that’s an issue of concern that follows with a lot of these drug and alcohol and psychiatric related issues but I think to-date we haven’t seen a spike in our department.”

Going forward, Jacobs said he hopes people won’t avoid the emergency room because of fear over COVID-19, as hesitation could be deadly.

“We have five months of experience with this,” he said.

Photo courtesy Reston Hospital Center

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Design Review Board to Meet Next Week — Reston Association’s DRB will meet via Zoom on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. to discuss a number of requested cluster updates. Information to join the virtual meeting is available online. [RA]

Month-to-Month Count of COVID-19 Cases On Decline — “The coronavirus case trends are looking better in June and July than May for Fairfax County, according to the latest local and state health department data. As of Aug. 10, cumulative cases stand at 16,445. There have been 529 total deaths and 1,939 hospitalizations.” [Reston Patch]

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Awarded Grants — “FCFRD was awarded $78,738 under the Grant Programs Directorate’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – COVID-19 Supplemental (AFG-S). The funds will be used to purchase critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supplies needed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.” [FCFRD]

No-fee Bulk Pickup Extended — “The special collection service available to residents for bulky items that do not fit within their refuse containers (such as furniture and appliances) is free through September 18. Pickups are by appointment only.” [Town of Herndon]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A $1 million project to restore 750 feet of Snakeden Branch at Lake Audubon is nearly complete.

In a recent Reston Association video, staff indicated that construction on the project — which is critical to prevent erosion and effectively channel stormwater — is expected to be completed sometime this week.

The restoration project, which was requested by RA members, will protect the area’s sanitary sewer system, improve water quality, and boost the wildlife habitat, according to Meghan Fellows, a project manager with the county’s stormwater planning division.

Major erosion caused the branch to become “white water rapids” in the event of rain, Fellows said.

The county, which already reforested part of the area in the spring, will provide more plantings in the fall. The restoration area is focused on the area between South Lakes Drive, Wakerbin Lane, Cedar Cove Court and Lake Audubon. Construction began in October 2019.

RA and county staff will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the stream restoration project in the coming months, according to William Peterson, RA’s watershed manager.

Fellows noted that the project is primarily intended to ensure the stream can handle stormwater and provide stability to the surrounding wildlife, given then nearly 48 percent of it is composed of impervious surface.

Prior to the project’s completion, eight sanitary lines were exposed.

Video via RA

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Quadrangle Development Corp. is offering a look at its plans for a mixed-use development on nearly 28 acres at the intersection of Herndon Parkway and the Fairbrook Drive.

The company plans to build four buildings with 1.5 million square feet of development. Two high-rise office buildings are planned east of Herndon Parkway, north of the Dulles Toll Road and south of Fairbrook Drive. A third residential building abutting Herndon Parkway north of Fairbrook Drive will include ground-floor retail next to a public gateway plaza. The fourth building is also intended primarily for residential use. A parking structure will be incorporated into the building.

The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission will consider the plan following a review by the Architectural Review Board. The plan then heads to the Herndon Town Council for consideration.

Staff noted that the project will be “a representative symbol or icon of Herndon to regional traffic” due to its high visibility from the Dulles Toll Road. In an Aug. 5 memo, staff encouraged the developer to consider changing up the materials and design motifs, the design of which currently is “monotonous.”

Quadrangle also plans to extend Fairbrook Drive from where it ends in order to connect with Spring Street. The company also plans to retain a natural resource protection area south of Fairbrook Drive. A trail network is planned with fitness and art installations.

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The regional Summer Restaurant Week — an event organized by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington — returns August 17 through 30  with some modifications.

The week was extended to allow patrons more time to participate. Events DC and JBG Smith are also covering the costs for local eateries to take part in the regional event. Restaurants are also offering takeout deals in addition to dine-in specials.

Here’s a list of local restaurants joining:

Currently, only Founding Farmers at Reston Station and Morton’s The Steakhouse are offering to-go meals for the restaurant week. Both restaurants and The Melting Pot are also including a paired wine or cocktail.

Fixed-price offerings include $22 for brunch or lunch and either $35 for $55 for dinner. Family-style to-go dinner meals are also being offered.

More restaurants may be added over the next several days.

File photo

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Monday Morning Notes

A Halt on Evictions in Virginia — Gov. Ralph Northam has granted a temporary statewide eviction moratorium through Sept. 7. Northam requested this moratorium in a letter to Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Lemons on July 24. [Commonwealth of Virginia]

Goodbye to K-9 Jake — The K9 for the Herndon Police Department crossed the rainbow bridge last week. He served the residents of Herndon from 2010 until his retirement in 2016. [Herndon Police Department]

New Portal for Community Partners — “A new partner portal has been launched for local community leaders and organizations with shareable information about COVID-19 safety curated according to health messages. Users can grab-and-go with text and video content, visuals, flyers and other materials.”[Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into another weekend with a stay-at-home order in effect, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Fairfax County Seeks More Funding for Soapstone Connector
  2. Herndon Resident Opens Indian Fusion Dessert Business
  3. Artist Completes ‘Reston Wings’ Mural on Parking Garage
  4. Free COVID-19 Testing Coming to Southgate Community Center in Reston
  5. FCPS Superintendent Defends Rationale for Virtual Start to School

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your social distancing plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Penzance, a DC-based real-estate firm, is offering a peek into its revitalization plans for Spring Park, an office park located at 455 and 475 Springpark Place.

The office park is located within a mile of the company’s planned major mixed-use neighborhood near the future Herndon Metro Station. The firm acquired 10 single-story buildings for $75 million nearly one year ago.

In an Aug. 5 presentation to the Town of Herndon’s Architectural Review Board, Penzance indicated it is looking into “revitalizing the whole site” and improving its connection to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

So far, Penzance has pitched exterior changes to four buildings: 450, 455, 465, 470, and 485. New exterior materials — like terraces with synthetic wood flooring and trimming, buffed cultured stone, and repainted entrances — are planned for several buildings. New signage and wayfinding are also planned, including a new monument sign at the main entrance.

The building that has the most visibility from Spring Street — building 450 — will have the most substantial changes, including a new terrace, metal cladding over parts of the building, a pergola, and new lights.

Building 485, which is located on the southeastern corner of the site, will also include a new terrace, metal awning, and other structural changes. Other modifications to the remaining buildings are minor, according to the application.

Penzance is also moving forward on its new mixed-use project at 555 Herndon Parkway. A suburban-style office building will be transformed into a high-rise office building with a residential tower. Retail space and a garage are also planned.

Photo via Town of Herndon

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