Deep dive into Reston sports — Bill Bouie gave a presentation on the history of sports, pioneers, players and playing fields in Reston’s sports. A complete recording of the event, which was organized by the Reston Historic Trust & Museum on Nov. 8, is available online. [YouTube/Reston Historic Trust & Museum]
The Lake House open house today — Reston Association continues its marathon of open houses today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Residents can enjoy light refreshments and chat with staff to learn more about multipurpose uses of the space. [Reston Association]
From Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins — In a note to Reston Now, Hudgins offered a few words about the coming of Amazon’s HQ2 to Crystal City: “As often partners in many regional endeavors, I am glad to acknowledge Arlington’s success and note that the entire Commonwealth is advantaged by the HQ2 announcement. Look forward to Fairfax County continuing to work together for the betterment of the region and the Commonwealth.”
Photo by Twitter user @MrErrett
The Hindu Festival of Lights, known as Diwali, lights up Reston Regional Library with a cultural fair on Saturday.
The event will include games, music, food, arts and crafts and other activities. Attendees of all ages are invited to the fair, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Below is a limited list of other events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.
- In the mood for a little theater? Performances of Hairspray continue today and this weekend on CenterStage at RCC Hunters Woods. Tickets are $28 for adults, $24 for seniors 65 and older, and $24 for students and youth under 18.
- Junior merchants will sell a variety of gently-used toys, books, and other child-friendly items on Saturday at the Children’s Fall Flea Market at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
- You can also kickstart your morning with a beer run near Lake Anne Brewhouse from 9:45-10:30 a.m. All ages and paces are welcome.
- On Saturday, Reston Community Orchestra will kick off the season with their opening concert at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods at 4 p.m. The concert is open to attendees of all ages.
- Sing books with Miss Emily on Saturday at Reston Regional Library from 10:30 to 11 a.m. The event is co-sponsored by Friends of Reston Regional Library.
- Blue Sky Puppets present folktales with puppets Chester, Buster, and Suzy Pig on Saturday from 2-3 p.m. at Reston Regional Library. The event is also cosponsored by Friends of Reston Regional Library.
- Reston Association needs volunteers to help monitor stream conditions from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. No prior experience is required and all ages are welcome.
- The Lake House will be open for community drop-in time and light refreshments from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday as part of a series of open houses.
- Maria Gianferrari reads her book “Operation Rescue Dog” at Scrawl Books on Saturday at 11 a.m. The story is about a girl who goes on a quest to find a rescue dog she plans to adopt.
- International games week kicks off on Sunday with the chance to play a few classic board games at Reston Regional Library from 1-5 p.m.
- Professor Harry Butowsky also continues his six-part lecture series on the history of World War II on Sunday at the Reston Regional Library from 2-4 p.m.
- On Sunday, Gina Clowes will perform as part of Frying Pan Farm Park’s Bluegrass Barn Series. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.
Hairspray lives up to the hype — A theater critic writes that Reston Community Players’ latest production, Hairspray, lives up to the volunteer-based community theater’s reputation of presenting professional-quality theater. [DC Metro Theater Arts]
Halloween 101 — With the spooks just around the corner, the county offers several safety tips for trick-or-treating on Wednesday, Oct. 31. Kids are advised to generally visit houses with their porch lights on or with active Halloween decorations, for example. [Fairfax County Government]
Lake House open house — As efforts to increase revenue from The Lake House continue, Reston Association is continuing its tradition of holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. [Reston Association]
Meet me at the movies — Seniors can enjoy a free screening of Ocean’s 8 today from 9:15 a.m. to noon. Light refreshments will be provided. [Reston Association]
A tale of prison and privilege — This free screening set for tonight highlights the economic and social inequities that divide the country and offers solutions on how separated communities can learn from each other. The screening will be followed by a discussion by Signe Taylor and several formerly incarcerated women who appear in the film. [Reston Community Center]
Flickr pool photo of stream cleanup recyclables by vantagehill
In a preliminary dive into next year’s budget on Monday, Reston Association’s Board of Directors and members of its fiscal committee explored ways to navigate a possible increase in assessments next year.
The increase may be necessary to offset additional expenses and new capital projects, according to RA officials. A major driver of expenses is a $50,000 increase in health insurance premiums for staff and $215,000 to pay for unanticipated lease payments for the lease of RA’s headquarters. Although staff hiring savings of $90,000 are expected to offset some expenses, the association has also seen an increase in lawsuits, amounting to roughly $30,000. Revenues from the Lake House and tennis courts are also down, said Larry Butler, RA’s Acting CEO.
Other expenses include a $60,000 state-mandated reserve study, $40,000 in software updates, $44,000 to add dechlorination systems for pools, $30,000 for a new billing and collections software and $20,000 for targeted marketing. The dredged of Lake Audubon, which was pushed from this year to next year, is expected to cost $850,000. Projected cost estimates for improvements to Hook Road are also expected to be a major expense next year.
Butler pitched several budgeting strategies for next year’s budget. On the top of the list is a proposed 2.5 percent in membership dues or annual RA assessments. Other alternatives include cutting expenses by 2.5 percent, dipping into investment earnings for $35,000, and the use of RA’s operating reserves.
RA Board President Andy Sigle suggested that staff continue to explore ways to balance the budget with RA’s operating reserve, which was also used to pay the Lake House loan. A stronger understanding of the projected year-end balance for the operating fund was necessary to determine whether or not to increase assessments, Sigle said.
Board member Julie Bitzer also stressed the need to ensure budgeted amounts are conservative and realistic, citing that RA budgeting for a decrease in lease payments for its headquarters location, only to later discover a decrease was not expected.
RA staff and the board will take a second dive into the budget by presenting draft two of the budget in late September. Following a series of listening sessions with members, the fiscal committee will receive the budget in late October. The budget is approved at a November meeting by the board following additional member input opportunities and amendments.
Photo via Reston Association
The Reston Association is hosting a bus tour showing off the area’s hidden treasures.
“Even if you have lived here for a long time, have you ever seen the trolls under the bridge near Reston police station, the significant monarch trees, the Lake House or the Nature House?” said the RA’s event description.
The bus tour will take place on Monday (April 9) from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will meet riders at the Lake House.
The tour will cost $12 for RA members and $18 for all others.
Under a new policy established by Reston Association’s Board of Directors, whistleblowers will be able to anonymously report violations of the law, RA’s deed, bylaws and policies or improper conduct to the board.
On March 22, RA’s board voted to expand the policy, which currently allows violations to be reported up to the level of the CEO. Now, the board will directly hear violations. The association is also working with a third-party service provider to establish an anonymous reporting mechanism.
The board’s treasurer Sridhar Ganesan, who worked with RA’s fiscal committee to push for the expansion, said RA still has to “conclude some procedural steps” like securing arrangements with the third party vendor before formally releasing the policy in its entirety.
“I think this is very beneficial especially in light of all the processes and internal controls that we are implementing as an organization, including the purchasing resolution,” Ganesan said at RA’s meeting last week.
Board Director John Mooney’s attempt to discuss the proposed policy during a special meeting at a later time failed. Mooney said he had hoped the board would take “a deliberative moment” to analyze the policy and ensure it independently assesses decisions made like the association’s controversial $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property.
“This policy is meant to prevent mistakes like many believe Tetra was,” Mooney said.
After months of discussion, Reston Association’s Board of Directors will consider a move Thursday to strengthen its procurement controls and policies in response to a third-party review of RA’s controversial $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property.
The rewrite of RA’s purchasing and procurement policies — which were last updated nearly six years ago — was recommended by StoneTurn Group, the forensic accounting firm contracted by RA to review the controversial purchase and cost overruns linked to the buildin’s renovation. A recent presentation by two RA members also flagged multiple concerns.
“As a result of the Tetra Property Purchase Review by the StoneTurn Group several recommendations were made that the Association should strengthen, and the better document the Association’s policies and practices related to procurement and purchasing,” wrote board president Sherri Hebert in the draft proposal. Hebert was not available for comment.
The move expands RA’s current policies by building in more internal controls, stricter financial checks to avoid sole source contracting and seek competitive bidding, and improved documentation. Major purchases above $25,000 require board approval, among other levels of scrutiny.
If approved, the policies would address four broad areas: procurement rules, competitive procurement and purchasing, re-competing for services and rules governing sole service providers.
Purchases between $2,500 and $4,999 will require documentation justifying the need for purchases, two written quotes from competitive sources, an agreement reviewed by legal counsel and a purchase order signed by the department director, CFO and CEO. Currently, two verbal bids, a purchase order and a signature by any one of the above parties was required.
In addition to requirements for purchases between $2,500 and $4,999, purchases between $5,000 and $24,999 require three written quotes from competitive sources. Currently, policies require two quotations “to the extent practicable.”
The proposal also requires the approval of two-thirds of RA’s Board officers and fiscal committee chair for major purchases of $25,000 and above. Additionally, purchases above $50,000 require a request for proposals, at least three written bids, and a closed session board meeting regarding bidding process information. Approval of the final contract’s scope and pricing would occur in an open board meeting.
Currently, policies for a $5,000 contract and a $50,000 contract are generally the same.
If a sole source contract is the only option, RA must justify why one known source exists and that only one supplier can meet requirements. Individuals not authorized by the updated resolution to commit RA funds may be held personally liable for damages sustained by RA, among other consequences.
The changes also include industry-wide procedures for requests for proposals, requiring documentation like a description of technical requirements and a list of references of clients from the vendor. Service agreements will also include a conflict of interest statement affirming no conflict of interests are at play.
For those unable to attend, the meeting will be livestreamed on Reston Association’s YouTube channel at 6:30 p.m.
After reviewing a blistering report about Reston Association’s $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property, the Board of Directors is mulling next steps.
Controversy surrounding the 2015 purchase, which cost RA nearly double the most recent tax assessment, continues to shadow the board.
In an effort to court closure, At-large Director John Bowman is seeking to involve legal counsel from the state to offer what could be the third review of the purchase. The draft motion will go before the board at their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m.
The proposal comes as two RA members, Moira Callaghan and Jill Gallagher, presented a scathing critique of the purchase in late January. The report flagged concerns about conflicts of interest, inadequate internal controls and limited transparency.
Last year, RA contracted StoneTurn Group to complete a $45,000 review of the purchase. The 30-page independent review included 15 recommendations to avoid a similar situation from happening in the future. In their review, Callaghan and Gallagher contend StoneTurn’s analysis was incomplete and insufficient.
Bowman said taking no further action after the members’ report would be “an avoidance of responsibility.” He also indicated forming a special board committee to review the members’ findings would require considerable board resources. The board may also lack qualifications to complete a review.
Engaging help from the state’s attorney would address “any potential concerns regarding forensic expertise,” Bowman noted.
The motion before the board tomorrow reads:
“Even though we would probably not be advised by the Commonwealth’s Attorney of any action deemed appropriate – we would have referred the matter to a qualified third party; the cost to the Reston Association would be minimal if any; and this Board could close the matter and focus on completing the internal controls.”
How do you hope RA’s board will respond to the report? Respond below.
From a performance on multiculturalism to a seminar on brain health, there’s a lot to do in Reston this weekend.
- Children can let their imaginations go wild at Box-A-Rama on Saturday. At the event from 9 a.m. through noon at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive), children can play with boxes of all sizes. All children must be accompanied by parents and caregivers. Tickets are $10 for RA members and $15 for all others.
- An open house is set for The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue) on Saturday from 2 – 4 p.m. Enjoy light refreshments and talk to staff about the multipurpose uses of the space.
- At Reston Regional Library on Saturday, enjoy the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy,” from 2 – 4 p.m. as part of the library’s series on movies that began as books. The event is open to teenagers and adults.
- The American Association of Retired Persons is hosting a brain health seminar at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon. To register call 703-390-6157 or email [email protected]
- Join the Greater Reston Arts Center and Reston Community Center on Saturday at 5 p.m. for an exploratory weaving workshop. Students will leave with a completed wall hanging. Tickets are $45 for Reston residents and $55 for all others. Register online.
- In a concert about friendship and multiculturalism, Mohammed Bilal and Josh “Boac” Goldstein use their friendship to actively challenge the American notions of black and white, Jew and Muslim, and urban and suburban. The performance, “The Color Orange,” will take place at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road) on Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for Reston residents and $20 for all others.
- On Sunday, watch 20 local figure skaters perform at the Reston Town Center Ice Skating Pavilion (1818 Discovery Street). The National Skating Month Exhibition will take place from 7:15-8:45 p.m.
- The Capitol Steps, a popular Washington-based music and satire troupe, will perform at the Hyatt Regency Reston (1800 Presidents Street) on Sunday at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. Proceeds will go to Cornerstone. Purchase tickets online.
- Reston artist Rudy Guernica’s exhibit, “Lost in the Woods,” will be in the Jo Ann Rose Gallery at Reston Community Center Lake Anne from Jan. 9 through Feb. 4.
- In this exhibit, Paulina Peavy’s work will be on display through Feb. 17 at Greater Reston Arts Center. Peavy gave up control of her brush to an alien entity named Lacamo after attending a seance in 1932. Her work includes paintings, films and texts that she used to better channel Lacamo’s energy. A talk by GRACE’s executive director Lily Siegel is set for Saturday at 3 p.m. at the center.
(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)
Photo via Reston Community Center
Registration for Reston Youth Triathlon Begins Today — Individuals interested in participating in the race on May 13 can register online at 7:30 p.m. today. Last year’s event included swimming in the heated Ridge Heights pool, biking near South Lakes High School and running on Reston Association paths. [Reston Youth Triathlon]
Clique Expands to Australia — A Dulles-based entrepreneur is expanding his technology company, Clique, to Australia. The company, which has offices in Reston, offers high-definition voice quality where consumers and businesses want it. [Loudoun Times-Mirror]
Open House at The Lake House Today — Operating under extended hours, the facility (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue) will be open for community drop-in time from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. Light refreshment will also be available. [Reston Association]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
This letter was submitted by Reston resident Alexandra Kenny South. 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.
As a working parent with young children enrolled in Reston Association’s Fit Kids After-School Program, I was deeply dismayed by the Reston Association Board of Directors’ recent decision to end the program mid-school year. I followed with interest the discussion at the Board meeting as well as the Reston Now reporting on the ruling and the comments posted online. I thought I would provide my perspective on the matter as one of the families directly affected.
I have two children who attend Reston Association’s Fit Kids After-School Program, ages 8 (3rd grade) and 5 (kindergarten). They ride the bus to the Lake House from Lake Anne Elementary School every afternoon, where they spend the next few hours engrossed in experiential learning activities, homework help, outdoor play and creative arts. Dan Merenick, Katherine Caffrey and the rest of the Fit Kids staff bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the RA Fit Kids Program, and perhaps most importantly, my husband and I know as working parents that we can trust them 1,000 percent to take excellent care of our children.
We were taken aback to hear the Board’s Hunters Woods/Dogwood District representative, Victoria White, state that, “Quite frankly, we’re a homeowners’ association. We’re not a child-care provider.” Reston Association has, in fact, long been a child-care provider, offering a wide range of summer and other school holiday educational programming which we and many other Reston families have benefitted from. The Fit Kids Program is an extension of the programming that the Reston Association has offered for years, and it is a lifeline for us as parents with two small children and two full-time demanding jobs that require a lengthy commute. It has been especially vital to us on the many days during the school year that are teacher workdays/student holidays, for which we would otherwise have to take leave. With the program now being discontinued midway through the school year (Dec. 15, we’ve since been told), we will be left high and dry, as public school-based after-care programs (SACC), which have similar costs, carry a very long waiting list, and spots at other private after-school care providers are few and far between, particularly in the middle of an existing school year. The decision obviously impacts the Fit Kids staff as well, many of whom gave up other afterschool positions to work at RA.
I understand, of course, the need to look at the bottom line when considering which programs to continue or not, particularly when the Lake House renovation costs were not budgeted appropriately from the start, leading to an overall loss in revenue over time. However, it’s not clear to me how RA envisions bringing in greater revenue by eliminating the Fit Kids Program at the Lake House. I would expect that any increase in revenue through special events, such as weddings, office parties, and the like, would be gained outside of the Program’s working hours (3:30-6:30 p.m. on weekdays). On the rare occasion that the Lake House was reserved during those hours, perhaps the Fit Kids Program could be moved to Brown’s Chapel or elsewhere to accommodate it.
On a more personal note, I grew up in Reston and I moved back here in 2011 in large part because I wanted my kids to experience the sense of community that RA contributes to. It saddens and disappoints me greatly that the RA Board cut such a valuable resource to our family because they don’t believe that other Restonians care to pay an additional $6-7 per household per year – paltry in comparison to the sums paid to the Reston Association for other goods and services, including use of recreational facilities. There must be another way to boost revenue that does not harm the many children that are gaining so much through their participation in RA’s Fit Kids Program.
Alexandra Kenny South
Beautiful homes around the community will be on display Saturday during the 16th annual Reston Home Tour.
The tour “focuses on six homes whose owners have moved in within the last few years and whose homes have given them a new perspective on their life, their surroundings and in some cases their attitudes.” The homes on the tour include residences on Bromley Village Lane, Hemingway Drive, Orchard Lane, South Shore Road and Spyglass Cove Lane, as well as at the Stratford condominiums. In addition, Reston Association’s Lake House and Bozzuto’s Aperture apartment building will be open for tour.
Tickets remain available online today for $30. On the day of the event, they can only be purchased in person at any of the homes on the tour or at the Reston Museum and Historic Trust (1639 Washington Plaza N.). All proceeds from the event benefit the Reston Historic Trust and Museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the past, informing the present and influencing the future of Reston through its educational programming, archives and exhibitions.
There is plenty else scheduled to take place this weekend in the area as well. Take a look at our list below.
(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)
- A trail of illuminated hand-carved pumpkins is welcoming visitors to “THE GLOW: A Jack O’Lantern Experience,” now through Oct. 29 at Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive). Presented by Townsquare Live Events, the “enchanting Halloween wonderland” features a third-of-a-mile trail decorated with more than 5,000 pumpkins. Tickets, which are $16 for kids ages 3-12 and $22 for adults, are available online and must be purchased in advance.
- Frying Pan Farm Park (2709 W. Ox Road, Herndon) will put on its Fall on the Farm festival this weekend. The event is scheduled for 5-9 p.m. tonight, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. In addition, Farm Harvest Days are slated for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- The Children’s Fall Flea Market at Reston Community Center is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 14 at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road). The price of admission is donation of one non-perishable food item, which will go to the RCC Thanksgiving Food Drive.
- In celebration of Fire Prevention Week, all Fairfax County Fire and Rescue stations will be hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Citizens are invited to meet firefighters, see the fire trucks, join in the activities and learn about fire safety. Local stations include Reston (1820 Wiehle Ave.), North Point (1117 Reston Ave.), Herndon (680 Spring St.) and Fox Mill (2610 Reston Parkway).
- Lake Anne Brew House will hold a fundraiser for the South Lakes High School band, which is raising money to travel to Pearl Harbor, from 7-9 p.m. tonight. The Brew House will donate $1 per pint or soda purchased to the band.
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night” Walk will take place tonight at Reston Town Center. Event festivities will start at 5 p.m., with the 1.5-mile walk to go off at 7.
- The Runway to the Cure Fashion Show is scheduled for Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon at the Reston Town Center pavilion. Hosted by Scout & Molly’s, RTC and Athleta, the fashion show will highlight many designer fashions. Models are volunteers and include breast cancer survivors, customers and local high school students. Suggested donation is $25. All proceeds will benefit Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
- “Sue Wrbican: Well Past the Echo” will be on view at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) through Nov. 18.
- During “Giraffe-toberfest,” celebrate fall with animals at Roer’s Zoofari (1228 Hunter Mill Road) on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can meet the zoo’s giraffe “Waffles.” Tickets are $20 and all proceeds will support giraffe conservation.
- The Reston Farmers Market will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Lake Anne Village Center.
- Reston Association will hold an open house at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.) from 10-11:30 a.m. Sunday.
- Author Karen See will discuss her book, “The Should Syndrome,” from 4-6 p.m. Sunday at Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.).
- Many restaurants and bars in Reston will have live music this weekend. These include Crafthouse (1888 Explorer St.) every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and Tavern64 (1800 Presidents St.) every Friday from 6-10 p.m; and Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N.) every Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
During the tour, which will take place on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents will see the Walker Nature Center, Lake Anne Plaza and Reston’s four districts, as well as learning about services provided by RA.
The tour will begin and end at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). Lunch will be served from 1-2 p.m. there. RA Board members, staff and committee members will be available to answer questions and meet with tour participants.
This year, RA departed from its tradition of holding open houses for newcomers at its main center. The bus tour allows residents to experience Reston in a dynamic way that reveals the area’s hidden gems beyond widely known attractions like Reston Town Center, according to Mike Leone, RA’s director of communications and community engagement.
“People know the main locations but there’s lot of hidden jewels and hidden history,” he said. “We want the community to know more about Bob Simon’s founding principles as well.”
As of Thursday, 17 seats are available for the 40-member bus tour, Leone said.
Bus participants will visit major sights and services like RA’s main facilities, the Reston Farmers Market and the Reston Museum. Ann Delaney from Public Art Reston will give a presentation on the importance of public art in the area.
“It’s kind of like a neighbor-to-neighbor social from start to finish,” Leone said.
To register for the free tour online, visit RA’s website.
In an effort to generate more revenue, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted at its meeting last week (video) to consider the end of child care at The Lake House when tabulating the 2018 budget and assessment rates.
Summer camps at The Lake House will continue under the new direction. The Board’s decision also allows for the possibility of using the facility for spring and winter break camps, and for “general ad hoc community programming if that did not interfere with being able to rent out the facility.”
The topic was earlier discussed during a special Board session Sept. 18.
Eliminating the afterschool care at the facility will allow for more hours to be designated for rentals, the Board decided at its Sept. 28 meeting. According to the Reston Association website, The Lake House’s rental rates range from $100 to $275 an hour.
While an estimated 647 families participate in camps at The Lake House, only about two dozen children go to The Lake House after school for the “Fit Kids” program.
“In order to benefit, 12, 14, 16 families, we are asking 21,075 [households] to pay $6-$7 in additional assessments,” said Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer and At-Large director, referring to the difference in assessment rate the projected income from additional rentals would bring. “This facility has cost us between $4.25 and $4.5 million. … As a fiscally responsible Board, I would say we need to recover that money, at a minimum, even ignoring the time value of recovering that money, before we think of opening it up and giving it away free.”
The Board voted earlier this month to move forward with using reserve funds to pay off the loan on the facility, which has struggled to make money and continues to operate at a loss since being purchased and renovated by RA.
One affected parent, Erin Gable, addressed the Board to express her displeasure with their conversation.
“The Lake House is for members, not for corporations,” she said. “I get that a lot of money is still trying to be recovered from The Lake House situation, but this is a service to RA members that can be vitally important.”
CEO Cate Fulkerson also said that several affected parents had sent in letters. In the end, though, the Board determined that Reston Association should not be in the child-care business.
“It’s not that I want to take away your child care, it’s that I fundamentally recognize that we have a ton of members whose $6 is a big deal to them … to service a very small number of kids,” said Victoria White, Hunters Woods/Dogwood District representative. “Quite frankly, we’re a homeowners’ association. We’re not a child-care provider.”
Also at its meeting last week, the Board directed staff (video) to include a new position — a post-project approval inspector for the Design Review Board — in the second draft of the 2018 budget. This position, designed to help ensure that repairs and other work done on properties is completed on time and done in compliance with RA covenants, is estimated to add $55,885 (salary and benefits) to the budget. It will have a $2.65 impact on the assessment rate.
Decisions about budget items have not been finalized, as the full 2018-2019 budget is slated to be approved by the board in November.
During a special Monday afternoon session (video), the Reston Association Board of Directors voted to guide staff toward using operating reserves to pay off the remaining $2.4 million on the Lake House loan as the 2018 budget is compiled.
Sridhar Ganesan, treasurer and At-Large member, shared information with directors about what he says is a “low-risk” option that would benefit members. CEO Cate Fulkerson said staff “strongly desires” the loan be paid off this year using the reserves.
“These are things we should consider as a Board, but my own perspective is [that] if we cannot put the money to work in other areas, [then] this is like returning money back to the shareholders,” Ganesan said.
Ganesan said RA’s operating reserves have never fallen below $4 million, and that they peak at around $12 million each year as assessments are collected. Given this information, he said, there is little concern associated with funds being taken from the account and used to pay off the loan now.
Ganesan had earlier shared this information with members during a community budget workshop last week. Taking care of the loan would reduce the assessment rate by $8.66 in 2018.
Director Julie Bitzer (South Lakes District) asked whether Ganesan and staff had considered making the payoff in multiple stages instead of all at once, if the Board is “nervous” about taking so much from reserves. Ganesan said he believes there is no reason to be uncomfortable about taking the money from reserves in one lump sum.
“You have enough cashflow coming in [from assessments] in order to meet the expenses in case there is [any] problem,” he said. “[Even if] on March 1, only 50 percent of members have paid their assessments — that’s a real problem, that’s a crisis. But even then, we have collected 50 percent of assessments; that’s $7.5 million.”
In addition, directors discussed rentals and programming at the Lake House with Laura Kowalski and Mike Leone, RA’s deputy director of recreation and communications director, respectively. In Ganesan’s budget projections, he says that possible expansion of operating hours and increasing the ratio of rentals to programming at the facility would increase profitability.
Afterschool programming at the Lake House, which begins at 2:30 p.m. each day, can hinder the opportunity to rent the property out for daylong corporate retreats, Leone said.
“Most businesses, if they want to do a retreat offsite, typically are looking at wanting to come in at around 8 o’clock in the morning … and then they want to go until, at a minimum, 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon,” he said. “They really don’t have that [opportunity] today because, realistically, if you’re doing a corporate meeting there you have to be out at the latest … at about 1:30.”
Nineteen families participate in afterschool programming at the Lake House, Kowalski said. Over 100 kids participate in summer camp there.
The Board guided staff, as it compiles its 2018 budget projections, to consider ending afterschool and other programming at the Lake House while maintaining a summer camp there. This would allow for evening rentals in the summer and all-day rentals the rest of the year.
The Board also voted to guide staff to move forward with considering expansion of rental hours at the Lake House to 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, which would put it in line with RA’s other rentable properties. Renters would need to comply with the Fairfax County Noise Ordinance.
Director John Mooney (North Point District) said he was concerned about being fair to those who are already under contract for afterschool programming. He suggested contacting them immediately to let them in on the discussion.
No official decisions have yet been made on the budget or about 2018 Lake House operations.
Board guidance on the second draft of the 2018 budget must be completed at their Sept. 28 meeting. Another community budget session is slated for Sunday, Oct. 15, followed by public hearings on Oct. 26 and Oct. 30. The budget is to be approved during the Board’s Nov. 16 meeting.