The Reston Association Board of Directors has adopted a new process in the effort to keep the community informed about potential major capital-improvement projects.
At its meeting last week, directors approved the plan as presented by CEO Cate Fulkerson and Garrett Skinner, director of capital projects. It was requested back in March after concerns about the way a potential project at Hook Road Recreation Area was being rolled out.
The new plan will include the following steps:
- Identify the audience for the project (residents, clusters, committees, working groups, the Board of Directors, internal staff, media, other key stakeholders)
- Determine messaging type (letter, face-to-face, status report, project update)
- Determine the appropriate delivery method (meeting, informal presentation, formal presentation, mail/email, RA News, Reston magazine, website)
- Determine frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, milestone, as needed)
- Determine the source of the message (RA Board, CEO, director of capital projects, project manager, consultant, communications team)
Opportunities for face-to-face meetings with stakeholders will be prioritized, according to the plan. A sample project plan included within the presentation showed five different ways of communicating with area residents and multiple communications with RA membership as a whole, along with numerous meetings with RA-sponsored committees, staff, the DRB and the Board.
“The intent to make sure that we have created a plan that we will implement to create these communication documents within our project-management life cycle for capital projects,” Skinner said. “Hopefully, this will be another step into engaging more of the community, more of the members, in hopes of also instilling a little more confidence… that they will expect to see communication related to these projects [and that] we’re not executing these projects without direct involvement by members of the community.”
According to the plan’s overview:
- Communicating with, and engaging, RA community stakeholders is essential to the successful execution of many capital projects.
- This communication plan template demonstrates the approach for communicating and engaging with stakeholders about large-scale capital projects that may have potential impacts to the community and/or require input during planning and scope development.
- The communication plan identifies audiences for each project, information to communicate, communication methods to use and frequency of communication.
- This scalable plan is intended to help facilitate effective and targeted communication from RA to all prospective audiences.
Mike Batt, chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, said PRAC is offering its continued support in the effort to improve community outreach. He also recommended the board look again at the Hook Road project as the first project to implement the new plan and “create a solid, repeatable model for keeping RA facilities to the standard our members expect.”
“Hook Road is a great park; it’s likely it only needs minor enhancements,” Batt said. “Using it as a model for managing future projects could help regain the confidence and collaboration across the community.”
Graphic via Reston Association
Discussion got heated Thursday night at Reston Association Headquarters during talk about a potential future project at Hook Road Recreation Area.
The park was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated last year. 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.
The Hook Road park was chosen by PRAC as a “pilot” project for the full-facility enhancement plan, said RA capital improvements director Garrett Skinner, because it has a number of amenities all in one place and hasn’t been substantially upgraded for more than 40 years.
“For the capital department, this is also a great pilot to really use and demonstrate all of the new policies and procedures we’re putting into place for project management, for communications, for engagement with not only these departments within the Association, but all of the committees and work groups as well,” he said.
Director Ray Wedell, who said he lived near the park for seven years, took exception to the plan to upgrade the facility. 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 plan as proposed by staff was to advertise a public information session for next month to determine what the community would like to see changed at the park. Concerns about parking and restroom facilities are among those floated in the plan. CEO Cate Fulkerson and Skinner, though, said the community would have the final say through its input on what — if anything — would be done.
“The capital department isn’t going into this project suggesting any solutions, any removal of anything or the addition of anything,” Skinner said. “The question will be up to the community: ‘Do you want anything at all and, if so, what?’ We can [then] determine going forward what that could look like.”
Hook Road Recreation Area has about $122,000 in as-is maintenance expenditures scheduled through 2020, Fulkerson said.
“We can stop [this proposal] now, it’s entirely up to you,” she said. “But according to the reserve study, I’m supposed to be doing stuff at this facility between 2016 and 2020.”
The Reston Association Board of Directors at their regular meeting Thursday will hear a presentation regarding a potential project at the Hook Road Recreation Area.
The recreation area, which features a baseball field along with tennis and basketball facilities, is located off Fairway Drive, just north of Hidden Creek Golf Course. According to information provided in the agenda for the meeting, it has remained relatively unchanged since 1973.
The Hook Road 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, according to the information provided.
“This methodology focuses on the revitalization of facilities as a singular unit instead of the periodic replacement of individual components of the site. The former methodology looked at facilities on an amenity-by-amenity basis spread out over several years. The thrust of the Full Facility approach is to improve RA facilities in a comprehensive and holistic manner to create a greater visual impact and maximize value for the membership.”
In December, the Board of Directors allocated $50,000 to fund the initial design concept of the enhancement of the Hook Road Recreation Area. According to information provided, the project’s scope would be to do the following:
- Enhance the use of Hook Road Recreation Area through facility renovations and improvements including but not limited to parking solutions, restroom facility additions and evaluation of existing amenities
- Improve landscaping and hardscaping
- Increase ADA accessibility
The board materials for Thursday’s meeting also indicate that an improved effort to engage members in the process will be undertaken.
“It is important that the Board and staff take into account lessons learned from recent events. A popular criticism the Board received from members regarding the Lake Newport Soccer Proposal was the lack of notice and failure to engage the residents directly adjacent to the site early in the process. Accordingly, during its meeting on February 23, 2017, the Board directed staff to develop an improved member notification process to gather community input when considering major recreation amenity proposals.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the board will consider holding a public information session on the Hook Road project April 26, with notice of the meeting to be sent out March 30. A call will be put out for volunteers to serve on a working group of RA members, first focusing on neighborhood representation, to receive input on facility and site improvements.
The tentative timeline for the project sees it coming before the board for budget approval in October.
Other items on the agenda for the meeting include:
- the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee’s 2017 work plan
- pedestrian lighting recommendations from the Environmental Advisory Committee
- the revised Code of Ethics project plan and proposed amendments to the CEO performance appraisal process
- proposed amendments to the Pool & Tennis Use/Access Policy
The meeting will be held Thursday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). It will also be streamed live on RA’s YouTube channel.
Map via Google Maps