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.
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
Hook Road Project Info Session — Anyone interested in learning about the Hook Road Recreation Area project and the forming of a working group may attend an information session on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). Email [email protected] for more about serving on the working group. [Reston Association]
Third Outreach Session on Bikeshare Announced — The Virginia Department of Transportation has announced a third public outreach event to gather community input on the proposed sites for Capital Bikeshare expansion in Reston. It will be Saturday, Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Reston Farmers Market. [VDOT]
Aquatics Center To Close for Annual Maintenance — The Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) will be closed from Aug. 19 to Sept. 15. It is scheduled to reopen at noon Sept. 16. [Reston Community Center]
County Short-Term Rental Survey Ongoing — Fairfax County is developing regulations to govern the use of short-term rentals (e.g., Airbnb). It is gathering community input through Aug. 31. [Fairfax County/Survey Monkey]
Column: Virginia Should Not Pay for ‘Skins Stadium — Regular ARLnow columnist Peter Rousselot wrote this week about how the costs of bringing a new Washington Redskins home field to Virginia would far outweigh the benefits for taxpayers. [ARLnow]
Giving his first full report to the Reston Association Board of Directors (video), treasurer and At-Large director Sridhar Ganesan broke down the figures for the first half of 2017.
Among the figures shared by Ganesan was $16.7 million in year-to-date revenue, 86 percent of which ($14.4 million) is from assessments. That number is up from $16.0 million at the same time last year, a change Ganesan attributed to an increased assessment rate from 2016.
One budget item that isn’t bringing in as much money as expected, Ganesan reported, is the Lake House. The facility has brought in about $80,000 as of the end of June, only slightly more than half of what was projected ($150,000).
“As I understand, it’s really because of scheduling conflicts, in terms of programs versus corporate and other rentals,” Ganesan said. “They’re still working through the scheduling issues, but you are going to see this difference flowing throughout the year.”
The Lake House, purchased by RA in 2015 for $2.65 million, is rented out for activities including weddings, corporate functions, retreats, workshops and conferences.
Lake House expenses as of the end of June have been about $126,000, Ganesan said.
“Part of the reason is going to be that a lot of those costs are on a fixed basis, so you really can’t pull them back even if you’re having some revenue challenges,” he said.
RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said programming changes are being considered for next year.
“The current programming hasn’t changed yet [but] we are reflecting some different programming as we go into 2018,” she said. “So there will be some decision points for the Board there, but we’ve adjusted based on our experience in the first six months.”
Later in Thursday’s meeting, a pair of capital projects advanced.
The Board approved the release $1.35 million in remaining project funds for the Central Services Facility renovation, which had been put on hold last year until the controversial Lake House purchase was independently reviewed. In addition, the Board voted to form a Hook Road Recreation Area working group, which will explore ways to enhance the facility within budget constraints set by the Board.
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