Town of Herndon Considering Hiking Fees for Facility Use

The Town of Herndon may slightly increase the fees for facility uses and rentals while eliminating its use of the Fairfax County Park Authority’s fee structure.

Herndon’s Parks and Recreation Department provides for community-use facilities at the Herndon Community Center, which includes a pool, gym, tennis courts, fitness rooms and drop-in child care.

For about 12 years, the Parks and Recreation facilities fee schedule has included a pricing structure for community center admission fees and passes tied to the Fairfax County Park Authority rates.

A department review of current services and operational costs prompted the Town Council to rethink its use of FCPA rates.

“Staff is proposing that structure be revised to eliminate the connection to FCPA due to the significant increase in their proposed non-resident rates, which would be detrimental to a large percentage of Herndon Community Center users,” the Parks and Recreation staff report says.

The Town Council now has a proposed resolution that would base the fees on a daily resident/non-resident fee. The change is expected to recover 75 percent of the department’s operating costs through fees and charges for services, according to the Town of Herndon.

The new fee would add $0.50 more to the daily rate for both residents and non-residents.

If approved, the amended fee schedule would go into effect on Sept. 1.

Images via Google Maps and Town of Herndon

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Op-Ed: Nine Questions to Start the Primary Campaign

This op-ed was submitted by John Farrell, who is a Reston resident. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

With the announcement that Cathy Hudgins will not seek re-election and the entry of at least four (and maybe more) people in the June 11 primary to succeed her, it seems appropriate to propose an agenda for the candidates to address over the coming weeks as they knock on our doors and ask for our support.

The Hunter Mill District hasn’t had a primary for supervisor in many decades. And given Hunter Mill’s voting history, it’s reasonable to expect that whoever wins the June Democratic primary will be the next Hunter Mill Supervisor.

What follows is offered as a start of that conversation. Happy to see others add their questions.

1.  Should the Hunter Mill Supervisor lift the PRC ordinance’s 80,000 person population cap on Reston to 100,000 or higher?

The Planning Commission held a five hour hearing on raising the cap last Wednesday (Jan. 23). Few of the 30 some odd speakers spoke in favor of raising the cap.

2.  Should the Hunter Mill Supervisor use the county’s zoning power to end or reduce paid parking at Reston Town Center?

3.  Should Reston National Golf Course or Hidden Creek Golf Course be redeveloped for housing or preserved as a central part of Reston’s open space plan?

It’s been quiet on the RNGC front lately, but the owners of Hidden Creek have been holding focus groups trying to find any community support for redevelopment of that property and adjacent projects that it has recently acquired.

4. Should high-rise housing be allowed to replace North Point or Hunters Woods shopping centers?

The Reston Master Plan allows 50 units per acre as a redevelopment option for those shopping centers. The pending PRC amendment would raise that number to 70. Should this high-rise option be preserved or eliminated?

5. Which recreational facilities are maintained better: County Park Authority facilities or Reston Association’s facilities?

There are only four Fairfax Park Authority facilities in Reston, but they are badly in need of maintenance or improvement.  Neither South Lakes Drive Park nor North Point Park has water to keep the grass ball fields alive in the summer or provide in-door sanitation facilities.  Yet over the last decade, millions of proffer dollars have been promised to the Park Authority. What should that money be used for in Reston?

6. The Tysons Master Plan calls for office developers to make proffer donations for recreational facilities. Should the same be expected of commercial developers in Reston?

The tenants and guests of the commercial developers will use Reston Association’s trails and other amenities. Should they contribute to their renovation?

7. Should proffer donations by developers for recreation facilities go exclusively to the Park Authority to be used anywhere in the county or go to Reston Association for use in Reston?

Developers’ attorneys report to me that even when they write proffers to give recreational proffer money to RA, the current supervisor’s staff directs them to rewrite the proffer for the money to go to the Park Authority with no strings requiring the money to be used in Reston.

8. Should Reston Association have a prominent voice in land use decisions in Hunter Mill?

The turn-out for RA elections will approach the turn-out in the June Democratic primary in Reston. Isn’t RA as legitimate a voice of our community as the McLean Citizen Association is in McLean? MCA is entirely voluntary and yet has virtual veto power over McLean land use application with the Dranesville Supervisor.

What would RA’s Design Review Board have had to say about the Blue Monster next to Plaza America or the Azkaban Apartments at the corner of New Dominion and Reston Parkways? They were never asked.

9. Should four-lane roads be reduced to two-lane roads, and the closed lane devoted to the exclusive use of bicyclists?

South Lakes Drive is getting horrible reviews from locals and the suicide lanes on Lawyers, Soapstone and Colts Neck are inviting head-on collisions and traffic jams when folks try to make overlapping left turns.

No doubt there are other questions that these candidates should answer. So let’s hear them but keep it to issues they can do something about.

— John Farrell

Photo via Len Spoden Photography

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Feeling Outdoorsy? Consider Starting the New Year Off With a Hike

Hit the trails on Jan. 1 if you want to enter a photo contest.

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s “First Hike Fairfax” returns this year with expanded hike options — including any FCPA trail — and photo contest prizes for hikes on New Year’s Day.

The FCPA teamed up with America’s state parks and Virginia State Parks for the First Day Hike Programs.

Locals can visit any FCPA trail on Jan. 1 and snap pictures for the photo contest. Nearby trails include the trails at Lake Fairfax and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. More trails can be found at Trail Buddy.

Then, enter one photo in First Hike Photo Contest by Jan. 2. Park Authority staff will select a “Judges’ Choice,” and the general public will vote on a “People’s Choice” winner. Both winners will receive a free four-month RECenter pass valued at up to $300.

All photographers will receive two free RECenter guest passes.

“First Hike Fairfax” also kicks off the Park Authority’s “Healthy Strides 12 Steps for a Healthier 2019,” which offers monthly tips with healthy living ideas.

File photo

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Community Garden Plots Coming to Herndon’s Bruin Park

An environment-focused nonprofit has raked in funding for long-awaited community garden plots at Bruin Park.

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a funding request from the Herndon Environmental Network (HEN) for $20,000 at its Nov. 14 meeting.

HEN will use the grant money to help develop 40 garden plots on the west side of the tennis courts at the park, which is located at 415 Van Buren Street. The plan also includes adding fencing to protect the plots and accessible trails, according to a county press release.

The project’s budget totals $42,496.22 — a combination of the grant money with a $7,966.06 cash contribution and $14,530.16 of in-kind donations from HEN.

Plans for the community garden sprouted several years ago.

The Master Plan for Bruin Park was amended in January 2014 to allow for community garden plots. In April 2017, an agreement between HEN, the Town of Herndon — which owns the park — and the Park Authority authorized HEN to develop, manage and maintain community garden plots at the park, according to the press release.

HEN is set to celebrate the grant award at the monthly Bruin Park Community Garden planning meeting — free and open to the public — at 7 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the Herndon Fortnightly Library.

Photo via Herndon Community Garden at Bruin Park/Facebook

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Friday Morning Notes

The historic designation debate — In this opinion piece, the writer explores two historic designation issues in Herndon and Reston. [Greater Greater Washington]

Trout fishing season is here — You heard that right. The Fairfax County Park Authority invites you to fish for trout at Lake Fairfax Park. Season passes are available. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Tishman Speyer sheds some land — The Pinkard Group paid $3.15M to acquire the 3.3-acre parcel at the corner of the Dulles Toll Road and Monroe Street in Herndon, part of the Woodland Park East development, from Tishman Speyer. [Bisnow]

Climate change in schools — Well, not in schools. The Fairfax County School Board passed a resolution last night calling on state and federal action on climate change. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

In the time machine — Flavors of Fall brought beer, wine, food and fun to Reston Town Center last weekend. Mercia Hobson offers a recap here.  [The Connection]

Photo by Lindi Mallison

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Crime Roundup: Investigations on Recent Incidents Continue

Local police continue to investigate several recent incidents in the last several days, including the apparent double murder and suicide that happened in Herndon last week.

As we reported, police believe Noera Ayaz, a 42-year-old attorney, killed her sons and then turned the gun on herself. Funeral services for the three family members were held late last week.

The Fairfax County Police Department is also continuing to investigate an attempted malicious wounding that happened on September 5 on the 2400 block of Centreville Road. A man driving a car shot another man who was riding a bicycle with a gun. Police said the two men knew each and other had been fighting earlier before the incident occurred. No injuries were reported.

In a separate incident, local police are also seeking leads to help identify a man after a public exposure incident happened on the 1600 block of Hiddenbrook Road. The man exposed himself to two teenage girls, according to police.

The police department also reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

2500 block of Centreville Road, wallet from location

9800 block of Georgetown Pike, backpack from vehicle

2100 block of Monaghan Drive, purse from vehicle

1800 block of Presidents Street, wallet from location

11800 block of Spectrum Center, laptop computer from business

2400 block of Centreville Road, stolen bicycle

11500 block of Leesburg Pike, beer from business

10700 block of Park Ridge Boulevard, laptop computers from business

13100 block of Parcher Avenue, cigarettes from business

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, keys from vehicle

11500 block of Leesburg Pike, beer from business

1900 block of Sagewood Lane, cash and keys from residence

11100 block of South Lakes Drive, merchandise from business

11800 block of Spectrum Center, laptop computers from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:

None reported

The county’s deer management archery program also began late last week. Overseen by the local police department, in collaboration with the Fairfax County Park Authority and NOVA Parks, the archery program will take place in parks and other locations in the county. The program ends on February 23, 2019.

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In PRC Meeting with County, Reston Representatives Push for Specifics on Future Athletic Fields

Piqued by a plan to increase Reston’s population density in select areas, residents pressed county officials to identify specific athletic field options and open space commitments at a work session this week.

During the meeting, the 10-member panel, which included representatives from Reston Association, the Coalition for a Planned Reston and three county officials, discussed how the county plans to ensure future development in and around Reston’s future urban core will incorporate athletic fields and open, community spaces.

While citizen members lauded the county’s efforts to work with developers, some noted that county plans lacked specific assurances on how and when broad commitments would come to reality.

The meeting is the second in a series of work sessions on topics of concern raised by local residents and community organizations as the county mulls a plan to increase Reston’s population density in its Planned Residential Community district planned from 13 to 16 people per acre.

County officials said planning processes are in place to ensure athletic fields and open space requirements are met. Generally, once major developments are built and occupied overtime and needs are generated through pressure created by development, specific requirements for athletic fields will kick in. 

However, they remained mum about the location of future athletic fields, noting that negotiations with developers are ongoing and that, once property owners learn a land is being considered for an athletic field, the property’s price is often hiked considerably. 

Asked by a member to point to possible locations for fields, Fred Selden, the director of the county’s planning and zoning department, said, “Right now, we can’t.” 

In Reston, one athletic field is required for each Transit Station Area and nine are required outside the TSA areas. Upgrades to existing fields may also be considered. Thus far, the developers have committed $10.3 million to go toward athletic fields in the greater Reston area.

So far, funds have remained untouched.

Others called on county officials to aggressively push developers of major mixed-use proposals — like the 36-acre Reston Crescent project — to identify specific plans for athletic fields.

“Those are the examples where the community feels we were being passed by in some way, shape or form,” said Larry Butler, RA’s Acting CEO.

Dennis Hays, president of the Reston Citizens Association, said he was concerned no immediate plans were on the table.

“Everything that we keep talking about is down the road,” Hays, who led the meeting, said.

Andrea Dorlester, manager of the county’s park planning branch, said the county has been aggressive in pushing developers to identify plans for nearly two years. When working with Brookfield, the developer of the Reston Crescent, county staff said they rejected a proposal by the developer to include a small athletic field suitable for children up to the age of eight.

Now, the plan, which is barreling towards final approval later this month, includes a proposal for the developer to purchase seven acres outside the property and convey it to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

Part of the challenge in securing athletic fields is that Reston’s master plan does not mandate the creation of athletic fields in Reston’s planned downtown core, officials said.

As additional development waits in the pipeline, others worry that challenge may already be difficult to overcome. One question, they say, hovers: As land becomes limited in the area, where will the future athletic fields go?

File photo

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Funding for New Equestrian Jumps Approved for Frying Pan Farm Park

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved funding to boost Frying Pan Farm Park‘s equestrian program.

A matching grant of $4,500 was given in response to a request from the Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park. New jumps and poles will replace existing equipment that is old and heavy.

In a statement, park officials indicated the new jumps will “address concerns about the difficulty of moving the existing jumps.” The Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park will contribute matching funds to complete the project, which is expected to cost around $9,000.

Since 1999, more than 170 Mastenbrook Grant projects have been approved. The Fairfax County Park Authority’s program provides limited matching funds for projects in local parks.

File photo

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Public Comment Sought on Lake Fairfax Park’s Master Plan

Fairfax County officials are seeking comments from the public on planned revisions to Lake Fairfax Park’s Master Plan on Wednesday, June 20 at 7 p.m. at South Lakes High School.

Proposed updates to the plan include adding parcels added to the park since the plan was last updated more than 15 years ago, possible changes to park facilities and the institution of a framework that guides the park’s future development.

After the meeting, the county will seek the park authority’s approval of the plan his summer. Revisions to the plan were prompted by the county’s purchase of three new parcels and the need to “plan the park using a holistic approach as opposed to incremental individual improvements,” according to the county.

A previous public information meeting was held in November.

A county presentation will be followed by an opportunity for community members to comment on the proposal. Residents can sign up to speak by calling 703-324-8662 or emailing [email protected].

Map by Fairfax County Government

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Thursday Morning Notes

RA Board of Directors To Set Next Year’s Budget Tonight — Reston Association’s board of directors will meet at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters to discuss a broad swath of motions, including capital and operating budgets for next year. The meeting can be viewed live here[Reston Assocation]

Purchase Poinsettias for South Lakes High School Seniors Graduation Party — Decorate your home and office this holiday season with poinsettias. SLHS is raising money to finance an all-night seniors graduation party. Orders must be received by Nov. 21 and will be ready for pick-up from SLHS on Dec. 1. Medium bundles are $15, large bundles are $25 and a hanging basket is $30. [SLHS]

Cleveland Browns Sign Reston Native Deon King to Active Roster — The 6-0, 220 pound second-year player out of Norfolk State was originally signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent. He appeared in four games for the browns this season while spending five weeks in the practice squad. [247 Sports]

Drones on Parkland: What Do You Think? — The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking public input on the possibility of expanding the use of drones on county parkland. During the first half of the year, the authority launched an internal study on the topic. Currently, drone pilots can take off and land at Poplar Ford Park only. The authority is considering expanding to other parks. The meeting will take place on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Oak View Elementary School. [FCPA]

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Park Authority Mulling Changes, Improvements to Reston’s Lake Fairfax Park

Edits made Oct. 31: A list of problem areas that was previously included in this article were addressed in the 2001 Master Plan Revision. Officials are currently looking to identify new potential issues and areas for improvement for another revision.

As the popularity of Reston’s Lake Fairfax Park grows, the county’s Park Authority invites citizens to a meeting this Wednesday, Nov. 1 to discuss planned changes and improvements to the park as part of its Master Plan Revision.

Lake Fairfax Park is home to a large number of recreational opportunities that attract visitors from not only within Reston and greater Fairfax County, but also throughout Northern Virginia. Some of those features include the 20-acre lake with fishing and boating rentals, the popular Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole water park, picnic areas, athletic fields, a skate park, a carousel, tent and RV camping grounds, walking trails and a playground.

In total, the park is currently around 479 acres, but only about one-third of that acreage is currently developed, according to the Master Plan Revision documents. However, much of that acreage is largely restricted from being developed due to environmental obstacles like “unsuitable soils, excessive slope and vegetative cover.” The report indicates some of that vegetative cover could include Virginia pines, Chestnut and White Oak trees that could be as much as a hundred years old, not to mention the animals and insects that call the wooded areas home.

“All of these cover types provide housing, food and other resources needed by animals and insects. Some of the plants contributing to the habitat are unusual in their own right,” they said.

Not to mention, proximity to all of that green space spells out increased home values in the surrounding neighborhoods as well–as long as it is kept in check, that is.

“The majority of this section of forest remains contiguous, and therefore very valuable as habitat,” they said. “However, even a forest this large will suffer from entropy and will need energy input in the form of active human management. This management is necessary to prevent the incursion of invasive exotic plants or damage from insects like Gypsy moth.”

In addition, the documents indicate that a walking survey of the land back in 1979 revealed at least three Native American sites on which stone debris was found, which they believed to come from old stone tools–one of which was quite remarkable, they said.

“One site yielded a fragment of a projectile point that probably dates from 3,000 to 6,000 years ago,” they reported, adding that there is great likelihood that there could be more sites within the Lake Fairfax Park acreage.

Officials say they want to revisit the park’s Master Plan and discuss what residents would most like to see added to, changed or improved upon in respect to the overall park.

“The plan will address new conceptual development, describing what facilities should be developed based on a variety of factors, how they fit into the established plan, where they will be constructed and how these facilities will be operated in conjunction with other areas of the park and existing uses,” officials explained in related documents.

Residents are invited to a public information meeting this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at South Lakes High School, Lecture Hall 333, 11400 South Lakes Dr. in Reston, when background on the Master Plan Revision and the park itself will be presented before turning to a discussion and question-and-answer period between the audience and staff.

Those who are not able to attend but would like to offer feedback can do so by sending e-mail to [email protected] The public comment period officially ends on Friday, Dec. 1.

Images of Lake Fairfax Park courtesy of Fairfax County

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County Parks and Rec Master Plan Available for Review, Comment

The Fairfax County Park Authority has released the draft version of its latest Parks & Recreation System Master Plan and is inviting the public to give its feedback.

The park system master planning process was first initiated with the 1993 Recreation Demand Study. The plan has been revised several times over the years, most recently in 2011.

According to the Park Authority website, the revisions to the 2011 plan were deemed necessary because a “revision is undertaken when the park system or its surrounding community have notably changed. This is the case with the Fairfax County park system.”

The Park Authority says “[m]any of the strategies detailed in the 2011 plan have been completed despite funding challenges” and “[a]dditional improvements or system changes have also been made where possible in order to address emerging community needs.”

Principles in the “Great Parks, Great Communities” plan include to inspire a passion for parks, meet changing recreation needs, advance park system excellence, strengthen and foster partnerships; be equitable and inclusive; be great stewards; and promote healthy lifestyles.

The goals include to improve and promote natural resource protection and management; ensure protection, conservation, preservation and interpretation of cultural resources; improve access and opportunities for healthy and active lifestyles; enhance and maintain park system quality and condition; advance as an innovative, responsive and adaptable organization; and provide sustainable financial management to advance the Park Authority mission.

Residents are encouraged to read over the plan and submit comments by email to [email protected], the comment box on the Park Authority website during a public input meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12 from 7-9 p.m. at Green Springs Gardens (4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria).

Comments can be submitted through Sept. 22.

Graphic via Fairfax County Park Authority

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Friday Morning Notes

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]

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Safely View the Upcoming Solar Eclipse with Help of Fairfax County Park Authority

Seventeen days from now, a lot of people are going to be staring up at the sky.

Locally, the Fairfax County Park Authority wants to make sure they’re doing it safely.

The first total solar eclipse over the continental United States in 38 years will reach us at 2:42 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21. In Fairfax County, about 80 percent of the sun will be blocked by moon. The full solar eclipse will be taking place at that time in South Carolina.

NASA warns that the only safe way to view the sun, even when it is partially eclipsed, is with the use of special-purpose solar filters or hand-held solar viewers. The American Astronomical Society has provided a list of reputable vendors for these glasses.

Every child who attended one of the Park Authority’s Adventures Away Rec-PAC camps this week received a pair of solar-viewing glasses courtesy the Fairfax County Park Foundation. Remaining glasses will be made available to the public at select parks, where a donation can help cover the costs.

The eclipse can also be viewed, with your back to it, by using a pinhole projector. The Park Authority is offering some programming to teach people how to make these.

Fairfax County also has numerous events planned for watching the eclipse, including on Burke Lake and Lake Accotink.

Graphic via NASA

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Live Music for National Night Out — Tonight’s National Night Out activities at Lake Anne Plaza will include an acoustic performance by Alex Perez at 5:30 p.m., a DJ and the Emotion Dance and Fitness Studio from 6-8 p.m., and an 8 p.m. show from Cinema Hearts. There will also be kids’ activities and BOGO Krazy Kustard Shakes at Kustard & Co. (1631 Washington Plaza N.). [Press Release]

State of Environment Report OK’d by RA Board — The summary, produced by Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee, is part of a new effort to publish an annual report on the state and management of the environment in Reston. The working group, which is comprised of nine members, spent over 1,000 combined volunteer hours compiling data. [Reston Association]

Best Ice Cream Sandwiches in DC Area — In its list of the top gooey goodies in the region, Washingtonian magazine has a recommendation for those going to Ted’s Bulletin (11948 Market St.): ask for an ice cream sandwich made with their housemade pop-tarts. [Washingtonian]

Registration Begins Today for Fall Parks Programs — Classes at Fairfax County parks, available in numerous recreational categories, begin Sept. 5. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Is Your Pet Prepared? — Fairfax County officials want to make sure residents are not only thinking about emergency preparedness plans for the family, but for pets as well. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

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