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RA Board Directs Staff to Budget $50,000 for Hook Road Working Group Plan

After hearing a detailed presentation of the Hook Road Working Group’s Master Plan, Reston Association board members on Thursday night voted to include $50,000 in the 2019 budget for architectural, engineering and design work to help the project move forward.

Featuring improvements on everything from play areas to permanent bathrooms to traffic calming measures, HRWG members Stu Gibson and Aaron Webb, along with capital projects manager Chris Schumaker, provided a detailed presentation of the master plan Thursday night, with special emphasis on the priorities they identified through public engagement meetings over the past year.

The first priority the group identified was public safety. Members suggested adding “bump-outs” to Fairway Drive that would narrow the road at certain points and act as a natural traffic calming measure, by forcing cars to slow down in order to navigate through the narrowed sections. While the bump-outs would require approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Gibson said VDOT would be identifying its own needs in order to accommodate the newly designed park, so the idea would be to try and piggy-back on any improvements VDOT will want to make.

Other priorities identified by members of the community and working group alike included better lighting for the tennis courts.

The second proposed improvement also had to do with safety. The group proposed pushing the park’s two baseball diamonds closer together and further into the park. Gibson said this would add an extra layer of protection for cars in the parking lot, making it harder for balls to fly that far and potentially hit vehicles, as well as push spectators further back from the road and away from cars.

“This will also afford the community an extra layer of accessibility that is not enjoyed now, while also preserving the tree line,” Gibson explained to the Board. “The community was adamant about not wanting to disturb that tree line, which basically bisects that part of the park down the middle.”

Gibson said another priority that countless members of the community asked for was the installation of a permanent bathroom, to replace the aging porta-potty that sits there now. The group proposed the creation of a new building that features a covered picnic pavilion on one side, with two permanent bathroom stalls on the other side.

The only question about the proposed bathroom was whether or not the RA’s budget can afford the costs of water and sewer work. Two alternate options could be to create a “waterless bathroom,” or a bathroom that is only open 9 months out of the year, and would be closed during the freezing-cold winter months.

Finally, the fourth priority the group identified were improvements related to accessibility and open space. The group proposed building a path along the west side of the tree line to allow increased access to the southeast baseball diamond from Fairway Drive, as well as a limited, five-degree slope from the Hook Road side to allow access by people in wheelchairs. They also proposed a “natural playscape” in added open spaces for children to play outdoors.

Following the presentation, the Board voted unanimously to direct RA staff to include the $50,000 in funding in the 2019 capital projects budget for the necessary architectural, engineering and design work to move forward with the Hook Road Master Plan. The funding will reportedly pay for work to acquire estimates for the design and construction of the features in the plan.

Photo via YouTube/Reston Association

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New Plan for Hook Road Recreation Area Revitalization Proposed

After a year-long review and public engagement period, members of a working group charged with developing the master plan for Hook Road Recreation Area will pitch their recommendations on how the area should be upgraded this week.

The area, which has remained largely unchanged since tennis and baseball amenities were added in 1973, was identified for major revitalization in 2016 after a review of facility enhancements approved by Reston Association’s Board of Directors.

Members of the 16-person working group, which was created by the board, will present their conceptual plan at RA’s board meeting at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters. The board will consider a motion to allocate $50,000 in next year’s budget for architecture and engineering of the conceptual master plan. Full cost estimates and phasing of future improvements would be determined following the analysis.

Design consultant Dewberry held three public roundtable discussions on the project — a process that flagged areas of concern, areas of use and areas to improve. Based on a public online survey and a survey mailed to households nearby the facility, Dewberry found that the areas were primarily used for “passive recreation,” with most respondents leaning toward using the park as is with minimal changes. After considering four concepts, the working group selected a final plan, which prioritizes traffic calming, baseball upgrades, internal paths, a ring path, and a natural playscape.

Road upgrades, which are subject to state approval, include roadway bump-outs at the west intersection of the property and a crosswalk. Upgrades to the baseball field and the construction of a permanent pavilion and bathroom is also recommended. Currently, one portable bathroom serves the entire park. Paths would be added near the baseball field. Other components of the plan include a natural enhancement for seating along Fairway Drive, tree preservation, a natural playscape for children with the “fewest manmade elements as possible,” and pathways as narrow as possible while remaining compliant with ADA and RA guidelines, according to the plan.

A live stream of the meeting will be available on YouTube.

Photo via handout/Reston Association

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Planning Commission to Decide On Proposal for Assisted Living Facility — The body will review a proposal by Kensington Senior Development LLC to bring a 70-unit assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive. The proposal drew opposition from nearby residents at a public hearing last week. The commission will vote on the project at its 8:15 p.m. meeting today in the Fairfax County Government Center board auditorium. An online stream is on the county’s website. [Fairfax County Planning Commission]

FCPD: Keep Your Faith-based Organization Safe — The Fairfax County Police Department is hosting two worship watch seminars in the coming weeks. During seminars, officers share crime prevention tips and training specific to protecting congregants’ place of worship. The first seminar is on Dec. 16 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Springfield. The second is on Jan. 3 at the county’s new Public Safety Headquarters in Fairfax from 6 to 9 p.m. Registration is required. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Hook Road Working Groups Meet This Week — The group will meet tomorrow from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. to discuss the Hook Road Recreation Area project at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). [Reston Association]

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Monday Morning Notes

See ‘Nosferatu’ With Live Music Tonight — Get into the Halloween Eve spirit with a showing of F. W. Murnau’s spooky film “Nosferatu,” based upon the 1897 novel, Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” The film will be enhanced with live musical accompaniment by Tom Teasley. Plus, if you come dressed as Dracula, you will receive a special Halloween surprise. The showing is part of the 2017 Washington West Film Festival and is sponsored by the Reston Community Center. The film begins at 7:30 p.m. at CenterStage in RCC Hunter’s Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Road. All ages are welcome. [Reston Community Center]

Meeting Thursday About Future of Hook Road Recreation Area — Residents are invited to a meeting Thursday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. about the future of the Hook Road Recreation Area. Members of the Reston Association staff and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will be on hand to discuss and solicit feedback on ideas for the park facility’s usage and more. This meeting is one in a series of community engagement meetings the two groups will be hosting this season on the matter. The meeting will take place at the Lake House, 11450 Baron Cameron Ave. Questions and written feedback can be sent to [email protected] [Reston Association]

Reston Apartment Ransacked While Residents Were Out — Police were called to a home in the 11900 Winterthur Road around 2 p.m. Wednesday after the residents returned home to find someone was in their apartment. The suspect managed to flee before police arrived. The residents said nothing appeared to be stolen, but there was “obvious damage” from the home being ransacked. Police are still searching for the person or persons responsible. [Reston Patch]

Town Hall Meeting Wednesday About Lake Fairfax Master Plan Revision — The Fairfax County Park Authority invites residents to come to a town hall meeting Wednesday to hear ideas for improvements to Lake Fairfax Park’s Master Plan, and offer feedback or ask questions. Lake Fairfax Park dates back to 1979 and is home to the popular Water Mine Swimmin’ Hole water park, campgrounds, the lake, walking trails and more. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, Nov. 1 at South Lakes High School, Lecture Hall 333, 11400 South Lakes Dr. Questions and feedback can also be sent to [email protected] before Dec. 1. [Fairfax County Government]

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Reston Association Board To Consider PRC Zoning Amendment Motion Thursday

During its meeting Thursday, the Reston Association Board of Directors will consider what they heard during Monday’s county meeting on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment for Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District and discuss its options.

According to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the Board will hear a presentation from land-use attorney John McBride and Larry Butler, RA’s senior director of parks, recreation and community resources. The Board will be asked to consider the following motion:

Move to direct RA staff, in coordination with Land Use Counsel, to work with Fairfax County staff, including testifying at Fairfax County’s public hearings, to amend the proposed Comprehensive Plan Guidelines for Building Repurposing to only allow for the conversion of office to residential uses in buildings located within one half mile of the Reston Metro Stations.

The plan from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning would bump the overall limit of people per acre from 13 to as much as 16. The current density rests at 11.9 people per acre. Changes would not apply to Transit Station Areas (TSA), which are located along the central east-wise spine of Reston.

The zoning change could also open up Reston’s village centers to possible major residential development. The proposal allows the Board of Supervisors to approve developments above 50 residential units per acre within the district’s TSAs — so long as the projects comply with the area’s master plan that guides development.

The planned discussion follows a spirited public meeting Monday where hundreds of residents voiced strong opposition to the proposal.

In addition, the Board will discuss several budget items during the meeting.

Directors will consider approving nearly $295,000 in improvements to North Hills Tennis Court (1325 North Village Road). Changes include resurfacing clay courts, adding bathroom access and replacing lighting, fencing and a water fountain. Residents voiced support for the upgrades at a community input session in mid-October. The Board says putting the projects back into the budget will not impact the 2018 Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund (RRRF) appropriation or the annual assessment rate.

The Board will consider a move to add $104,000 to remove trees from Butler Pond. The project is necessary in order to comply with a state law that prohibits woody vegetation on dams to prevent dam failure, according to the board’s agenda packet. The project would increase the annual assessment for next year by 49 cents.

Additionally, the Board will vote on a move to fund $60,000 for a business process audit, which would increase the annual assessment rate by $2.85.

The Board will also hold a public hearing on the budget during the meeting.

At its Thursday meeing, the Board will also consider the appointments of members to the Hook Road Working Group. The Hook Road Recreation Area is slated for comprehensive upgrades as part of a pilot project that aims to improve facilities at once instead of completing upgrades over time and as needed. The working group is tasked with making a proposal to the Board on the project’s scope by early next year.

A meeting on the project is planned for Thursday, Nov. 2, at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). Two other meetings took place this month.

The names of individuals under consideration have not been made available.

Other issues on the agenda for the Thursday’s meeting include:

  • The appointment of Charlie Hoffman to the Design Review Board as a lay member, to fill a vacant seat through March 2019. Hoffman also serves on the covenants committee.
  • The appointment of Mike Martin to the elections committee through October 2020.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The meeting will also be streamed on Reston Association’s YouTube channel.

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Reston Real Estate: Hook Road and Its Recreation Area

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

The Hook Road neighborhood off Fairway Drive is a sweet little pocket of homes built in the 1960s. In case the road names don’t give it away, this small community backs up to the Hidden Creek Country Club golf course. Those are some very nice views from back decks.

The Hook Road homes are classic contemporary style, most with three or four bedrooms; are typically two-story; and many have brick exteriors.

The homes line only one side of the street. The inner space of the horseshoe houses a baseball diamond for Little League, RA tennis courts and a basketball court that provide entertainment all summer. And there is plenty of room among that green space to lay out a blanket for a family picnic.

But that may change.

Reston Association is currently assessing how the Hook Road Recreation Area could be improved, and the time for community input is now (specifically Oct. 16 and Nov. 2). RA’s goal is to present a proposal to the RA Board of Directors early next year.

The Hook Road Recreation Area was originally developed in 1965 with tennis and basketball amenities added in 1973. Since that time, the recreation area has remained relatively unchanged.

In 2016, the RA board approved a new capital project methodology called “Full Facility Enhancements,” which focuses on revitalizing facilities as a singular unit instead of replacing individual amenities. If you use the recreation area, or just want to know what the plan is, attend the meetings. You can find out the locations on the RA website. You can also sign up to for updates about the project by emailing [email protected].

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Three Community Meetings on Hook Road Park Project Scheduled by Reston Association

Member input on what, if anything, should be done to upgrade Hook Road Recreation Area is being sought by Reston Association through a trio of community meetings and an online master-planning survey.

The meetings, which will all be held at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.), are scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 4 (7-8:30 p.m.)
  • Monday, Oct. 16 (7-8:30 p.m.)
  • Thursday, Nov. 2 (7-8:30 p.m.)

The online survey will be available for comment through Friday, Oct. 20. According to information provided by Reston Association, the purpose of the survey is “to better evaluate the recreation area and its value to the community, and to identify potential areas for improvement.”

Hook Road Recreation Area was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee as the pilot project for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated 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, consider comprehensive work to upgrade the facility all at once.

At a community information session on the project last month, design consultant Dewberry was introduced to members, and its representatives shared information about the studies that have been done so far and how community input will be used as the project continues to be studied and eventually decided upon.

A Hook Road Working Group will be tasked with making a proposal to the RA Board on the project’s scope early next year. Applications for the group are currently being accepted, and interviews will take place in October.

Questions about this project or the community meetings should be directed to [email protected].

Map graphic courtesy Reston Association

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Community Input Process for Hook Road Project Begins with Calls for Fiscal Responsibility

During a community meeting earlier this week (video) on a future Hook Road Recreation Area capital project, residents provided their thoughts on what should — and should not — be done at the park.

Hook Road Recreation Area was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee as the pilot project for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated 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, consider comprehensive work to upgrade the facility all at once.

Tuesday’s meeting was a kickoff to the project, sharing information with the community and beginning the process of gathering input. In between tense moments at the meeting, many residents of the community said they appreciated the effort Reston Association is undertaking to engage the community from the very start of the process.

“We all know, living in Reston, things change,” said John Pinkman, of Rescue Reston. “Things have to improve if we want to keep our property values as high as they are, [so] I really encourage this process.”

Dan Pennington, president of the Orchard Green Cluster Association, asked for clarification on what has been identified by Reston Association staff as “aging components” of the park that require attention. Garrett Skinner, RA’s capital projects director, said everything at the park falls into that category.

“Nothing has been replaced — in terms of the tennis court, the ballfields, the multipurpose court — since 1975,” Skinner said. “Many of these features are all kind of due for rehab around the same time, and this will be a good opportunity to look at everything as one facility instead of the previous methodology for us, [which was] just to fix little things as they’re needed.”

Concerns about parking and restroom facilities at the park are among those that have been brought up in one way or another regarding the project. Upgrades to facilities including the baseball field have also been mentioned by community members.

At Tuesday’s meeting, design consultant Dewberry was introduced to members, and its representatives shared information about the studies that have been done so far and how community input will be used as the project continues to be studied and eventually decided upon. A representative of PRAC also shared information, as did Skinner.

The question was raised of whether the fact that $50,000 has already been allocated from the Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund to develop plans for Hook Road means a “very large” project is being envisioned.

“What you saw tonight from Dewberry, all of that work, that’s where we allocated that $50,000 — all the data gathering, all the community input, all the research they’re doing,” said Sherri Hebert, president of RA’s Board of Directors. “There is no design [yet]. It could be anything from a small little thing to whatever the community wants. There’s nothing out there yet.”

Saying the current RA board is “very conservative” when funds are concerned, Hebert said a large-scale project is not anticipated.

“What will be different this year is an iterative process between the Working Group … and the Board,” Hebert said. “It’s not going to come back with this big project. … Nothing will be a surprise with the community.”

The Hook Road Working Group will be tasked with making a proposal to the RA Board on the project’s scope early next year. Applications for the group are currently being accepted, and interviews will take place in October.

Hook Road Recreation Area has about $122,000 in as-is maintenance expenditures scheduled through 2020, RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said previously. Skinner said full replacement of every aspect of the park would cost around $620,000. Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer of the RA Board, said no budget is currently set aside for the proposed capital project.

In the wake of recent controversies including the Tetra/Lake House purchase, residents such as Laurie Dodd said they are thankful RA is taking a more serious approach about incorporating the community in discussions such as this.

“I would rather spend $50,000 on getting community input and participation in the plan than run the risk of bad decision-making,” she said. “Democracy and public participation cost money, so I think we need to let the light shine on RA processes.”

Many residents who spoke said that while the park has a lot of strong qualities as it sits, they are not averse to thinking about ways it can be improved.

“[The park] works really well, and there’s an adage of ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,'” said Jay McCracken, of South Shore Drive. “But we have to be open to change as well.”

Not everyone is convinced, though.

“It’s a beautiful green space, and RA maintains it very well,” said Tom Brady, of the Waterford Square Condominiums on Fairway Drive. “[Now RA is] spending $50,000 to plan for something that really doesn’t need to be done, especially because Reston Association ratepayers are feeling more and more squeezed.”

Anna Lowit, of Hook Road, said the park is a treasure of the community and that is extremely well-used, but there are maintenance needs and upgrades that can be made. However, she said any changes that are made should be a focus on needs, not on wants.

“[We must] make fiscally responsible decisions — not that we’re sitting on money that we can spend, and we can spend it so let’s just buy something,” she said. “Upgrading and maintaining the things that we have is the best way to spend our money.”

Future community work sessions and roundtable events on the project have been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4, 10 and 24. Members who would like to receive updates about the process can join the mailing list by emailing [email protected].

Aerial photo of park courtesy Dewberry

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Info Shared, Tempers Flared at Community Meeting for Hook Road Capital Project

The first community meeting to discuss a future project at Hook Road Recreation Area provided members a chance to learn about the process and share information about how their voices will be heard.

It was far from run of the mill, though, as the Tuesday evening event was dotted with angry voices and flaring tempers — and even an appearance from the Fairfax County Police Department.

The meeting was the kickoff of what will be a several-month project to determine what, if anything, should be done to enhance the facilities at the park in North Reston. Design consultant Dewberry was introduced to members, and its representatives shared information about the studies that have been done so far and how community input will be used as the project continues to be studied and eventually decided upon.

Many of the more than 100 members in attendance, however, expressed their dismay with Ray Wedell — the At-Large member of the Reston Association Board of Directors who recently shared his personal thoughts on the project in a five-page statement. In the statement, Wedell said amenities such as the baseball field at the park do not need upgrades, and that consideration should be given to removing the tennis and basketball facilities altogether.

Sherri Hebert, president of the RA Board, made a point at the start of the meeting to mention that Wedell’s opinions in no way represent anything that is being considered by the Board as a whole.

“I did receive several emails, and I know the RA Board did as well … regarding a letter [from Wedell],” Hebert said. “I just want to say that was Ray’s comments and Ray’s perspective; that did not represent the Reston Board or RA.”

Presentations were provided by Elaine Killoran of RA’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and by Garrett Skinner, RA’s director of capital projects, on how the process of determining what will be done at the park will proceed. Members are being encouraged to apply to be part of the Hook Road Working Group, which will be appointed in October and will be asked to give a report to the Board in February.

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. The Board voted at its July meeting to form the working group.

Future community work sessions and roundtable events on the project have been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4, 10 and 24.

More than once during the meeting, Wedell circumvented the line of speakers waiting to give their public comment on the project. The crowd met him with point-of-order calls and shouted him down as he attempted to shout over them. At one point, some turned their backs on him and refused to listen to his statement.

Wedell said he was within his right to take the stand and respond to comments. Hebert and Sridhar Ganesan, the Board’s treasurer, at one point told him to step away from the microphone, which he had taken from the stand and was holding in his hand.

“I apologize for that,” Hebert told members. “This is actually your meeting, so I would like to hear what you have to say.”

Wedell’s comments about the baseball fields — which include that there is “no need for fancy field backstops and constantly pure lining of sidelines” and that the proposals include “expensive and unnecessary changes to the baseball backstops” — drew the attention of Reston-Herndon Little League president Jason Walker, who said Wedell’s generalizations about field usage at the park are wildly inaccurate.

“Almost everything [Wedell] wrote about Reston-Herndon Little League with regard to equipment needs, our scheduling, the way we use the field, who uses the field — all of it is factually incorrect,” Walker said after the meeting. “I am for the upgrades, obviously, but I think [members] need a fair and accurate representation of facts from someone who has been involved with this, and I have been involved with this since 2010.”

After Walker made his public comment, he and Wedell had a verbal confrontation at the back of the room. An argument ensued in which Wedell told Walker to “shut up,” and Walker was heard calling Wedell “a disgrace.” The men give differing stories on who instigated the argument. After the brief disruption in the meeting, Walker left the room.

The Fairfax County Police Department was summoned at some point, and a pair of officers responded after the meeting had concluded. They conducted interviews at the scene, including with Wedell, but no report was filed.

When asked about the events of the evening afterward, Wedell said the portion of his letter that suggested replacing tennis and basketball facilities at Hook Road with parking — the genesis of a great amount the anger shown by members — was meant to be provocative and to increase community conversation about the plan. The ultimate goal, he said, was to increase the voice of the people who feel no upgrades should be made to the park at all.

“I’ve been pushing for community engagement like this for a very long time, and if it took what they think is a provocative piece to do so, I’m happy it happened,” he said. “When this first came up in March, I was clear — do nothing. Just standard maintenance. We don’t need any of this to happen.”

Tuesday evening’s meeting was recorded by RA staff and will be made available on the Association’s YouTube channel. Members who would like to receive email updates about the project can join the mailing list by emailing [email protected].

All documents from this meeting and all future meetings on the project will be made available on the Hook Road page on Reston Association’s website.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Hook Road Meeting Tonight — The first community meeting on the establishment of the Hook Road Working Group and to discuss the pending project at the recreation area will be tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). [Reston Now]

Vote Today for County School Board Seat — Polls are open until 7 p.m. for the special election to fill an At-Large seat on the Fairfax County School Board. [Reston Now]

South Lakes High School Sports Schedule — The SLHS volleyball and golf teams have matchups tonight. Other sports including field hockey, cross country and football will go up against competition later this week. [South Lakes High School]

Lake Anne Brew House Owner Touts Women in Brewing — Melissa Romano, owner of Lake Anne Brew House, was one of speakers at the “She Can Brew It” series, dedicated to women who brew and own breweries, Saturday night in Alexandria. [Mash the Patriarchy]

Digital Services Provider Moves to Reston — Octo Consulting Group has moved from Tysons Corner to a new 25,000-square-foot headquarters at 10780 Packridge Blvd. Octo has about 350 employees, 130 of whom have been hired in the past 18 months. [Washington Exec]

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Wedell: Hook Road Park Should Be for Community, Not ‘Just Another Recreation Area’

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.

Wedell says adding parking spaces there, instead of finding space elsewhere on the property as has been suggested, would allow for more people to enjoy the activities that take place in the western portion of the property as it currently sits — which he says is a “wonderful open space for picnics, kite flying, frisbee with the dogs, exercise for younger supervised tots, and much more.” His argument is that this would make the park a vital community gathering area rather than “just another recreational area.”

This can easily be accomplished and would serve the needs of many more citizens. It would give many more people who do not use the tennis courts (the overwhelming majority of Restonians) a reason to think their assessments DO provide value. It clearly is environmentally robust.

At a time when Reston is literally fighting for its life against the seemingly insurmountable development forces, the establishment of such a park stakes a claim that we value our quality of life, and the citizens want to define how our community should look.

The director says the proposed redevelopment at Hook Road is “a golden opportunity for the citizens to call for a timeout and demand that we re-think the entire purpose of the park.” Wedell says there should be parks similar to his vision for Hook Road Park in areas such as Hunters Woods and the South Lakes District. He says the open-space park concept should be the new approach for Reston.

Rather than forge forward with the current debate on how to retrofit the existing structures at Hook Road, isn’t it time to take a “30,000 foot view” and determine what type of park best meets the needs of the overall community?

The first public meeting on the Hook Road Recreation Area project is slated for Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

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First Community Meeting on Future Hook Road Recreation Area Project Set for Next Week

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

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Friday Morning Notes

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]

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Reston Association Treasurer Breaks Down Year-To-Date Figures; Lake House Numbers Low

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.

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Five-Step Process Adopted for RA Capital Project Communication Plan

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

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