Office of Government Ethics Director Has Reston Roots — In a letter to the editor, John Lovaas salutes Walter Shaub, an SLHS grad. He also commends the Reston Association Board of Directors for its recent work to attend to matters of ethics. [Fairfax Times]
Parking Lot Resurfacing — Resurfacing of the Lake Newport soccer fields parking lot is scheduled to begin today, and the project is anticipated to take three days to complete. The lot will be closed during that time. For further information, email [email protected]. [Reston Association]
Reston-Based Swim Team Sets Records — Members of the Fox Mill Woods Swim Club broke two marks at the Northern Virginia Swim League’s recent All-Star Relay Meet. [Reston Patch]
Toll Road Lane, Ramp Closures — Once again this week, there will be plenty of activity on the Dulles Toll Road, Airport Access Highway and Dulles Greenway as work continues on the Silver Line. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]
A half-dozen residents have thrown their hats in the ring for an At-Large seat on the Reston Association Board of Directors, and they faced the community Thursday in a candidate forum at RA headquarters.
Roberto Anguizola, Eric Carr, Mike Collins, Charles Dorfeuille, Ven Iyer and HeidiAnne Werner are all vying for the three-year term on the board. The forum provided them an opportunity to tout their abilities, as well as their goals if they should be elected.
When contemplating the 2018-19 Reston Association budget, which will be approved later this year, candidates said there is a wide number of factors that must be considered. Collins, who was an RA board member from 2010-2013, said it is important for the board to get back to fundamentals.
“We’re not doing the very basic thing we have to do, and that’s maintaining our facilities to the best of our ability,” he said. “That’s going to require laser-like focus by the board, they are going to have to be intimately familiar with our operations, and they have to just say no.”
Dorfeuille, an eight-year resident and a member of the Community Engagement Advisory Committee, advocated for a line-by-line analysis of the budget that separates essential items from non-essential.
“We are spending too much for what I believe we as a community are being given,” he said. “What is non-essential, we look at in the line-by-line review of what we can reduce or what we can de-prioritize.”
“Our assessments have nearly doubled in the last 15 years — this is not sustainable and it is not warranted,” he said. “In another 30 years, the Reston as we know it now will only be affordable for the wealthy top.”
Carr, a former cluster president with over 20 years of nonprofit and government management experience, said a long-term capital plan is needed so the RA board can “get [its] arms around” the existing capital assets that need to be addressed.
“We think about these 40-, 50-year assets we own in two-year budget cycles,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense and it’s very hard to project into the future, and we continue to get surprised when pools fall into disrepair or when pathways need maintenance.”
Werner, a lifelong Restonian who works as an association manager, said natural environments need to be protected from development. She added that services, programs and facilities available to Reston Association members need to be optimized.
“This really is to put a focus on our facilities, to make sure they are in the proper maintenance and attractive for members to use,” she said.
Anguizola, a trial attorney who has lived in Reston since 2008, said his top priority would be to address aging infrastructure in the community. He touted partnerships with nonprofit groups and businesses as a way to achieve that goal without increasing assessments.
“Most of the recreational facilities and amenities in Reston were built in the late ’70s, early ’80s,” he said. “They need attention, and that’s going to cost money to keep them at the level everyone expects them to be at.”
Collins said the board must do a better job of managing its staff and analyzing its needs in the effort to keep costs down.
“The board needs to have firm controls on the budget from the get-go, they need to be willing to get into the details, get behind the top-level numbers and again, say no,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t need a new truck, we don’t need a new computer system. I hate getting into the weeds like that, but apparently we need to do it.”
Arlene Krieger and John Mooney, the two candidates in the race for the North Point seat on the Reston Association Board of Directors, made their cases Wednesday during a candidate forum at the Lake House.
The venue itself was a major topic of discussion during the event. The Lake House has been the subject of a great deal of community debate since its controversial purchase and costly renovation by Reston Association.
Krieger, a longtime community activist, said Reston Association’s board should have recognized from the start that it lacked the expertise to make such a deal.
“It is very, very foolish to initiate a plan when you have no idea what you’re doing and you don’t even know that you have no idea what you’re doing,” she said. “This thing should never have been taken on by this particular group of people. We need to recruit from the community experts who know what they’re doing, [and] we need to include them from the first day anything is planned.”
Mooney, a senior manager in Arlington County for 17 years, said major deals such as the Lake House purchase require an ability to do proper analysis from the get-go.
“[It’s about] making sure that we have the analytic capacity within Reston Association to deal with complex issues, to do upfront, thorough investigation of the issues so that we don’t make false starts and big mistakes,” he said. “We need that both for the renovations and the programming for income, we need advice on both of those.”
Mooney made similar statements when asked about the Lake Newport soccer field renovation project, which has been tabled indefinitely by the RA board after strong outcry from the community.
“When a community process becomes very divisive, so that fruitful dialogue can’t occur, the board needs to decisively and quickly stop the process,” he said. “We need careful and thorough analysis of complex proposals before endorsing them. … I think that could have been analyzed better, and to me it indicates an improvement the Association can make.”
Krieger said the community has “totally and completely made up its mind” on the soccer project, and RA stumbled out of the starting blocks by not including them in the discussion from Day One.
“The mistake Reston Association made again is that they started a project 10 months before the community and the affected parties knew about the project,” she said. “They once again underestimated the power of the community, and that’s why they got themselves again in so much trouble.”
Krieger said the community should always be involved from the outset of a project, and that she would work to create an ad hoc telecommunications committee in the attempt to better that communication. While Mooney agreed that community dialogue is important, he said it’s also important to remember that some projects need to be vetted before involving residents.
“[The community wants] the board to winnow issues down, to structure issues, so the community doesn’t waste time,” he said. “Then you engage the community fruitfully, otherwise the community becomes frustrated and will walk away from the whole process.”
Both Krieger and Mooney have been involved in the fight against redevelopment at St. Johns Wood, though that was a source of disagreement for them in Wednesday’s forum. Mooney cited his work on a critical analysis of the proposal that helped bring it to a stop; Krieger, though, said Mooney didn’t do as much as he claims.
“The reports were a composite of everyone else’s research,” she said. “The only original thing that John did [was when] I assigned John to do a traffic study at the Sept. 14 meeting. I figured out how to get this before the Board of Directors, nobody else could figure that out.”
Mooney said he was “astounded” by Krieger’s claims.
“What I did was not a composite of other people’s work,” he said. “It was the result of 80 hours-plus of careful analysis of the Reston Master Plan and the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and identifying in very particular, quantified ways how this did not comply with the Reston Master Plan.”
The candidates also answered questions on assessment rates, transparency, potential golf course redevelopment and more. The forum can be viewed in full on the Reston Association YouTube channel.
The candidate who wins the race will serve the remaining two years of a term being vacated by Dannielle LaRosa, who announced in December she would step down. Voting will continue through April 3.
Candidate forums in the races for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District and an At-Large seat will take place tonight, at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. respectively, at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
After a spirited member-comment session, the Reston Association Board of Directors decided at their meeting Thursday to indefinitely table a proposal from Reston Soccer to renovate the Lake Newport soccer fields.
About a dozen members of three clusters adjacent to the fields — Bayfield Station, Arbor Glen and Concord Green — spoke before the board to express their concerns about the project. The issues at hand include the worries about lighting, artificial turf’s effect on the environment, and increased disruption to the community due to field use at later hours, year-round.
“Neighbors from the most affected clusters are united in our opposition to Reston Soccer’s proposal and are angered at the manner in which the Reston Association has mismanaged this project,” said Eric McErlain, Bayfield Station homeowners’ president and organizer of a community coalition called Preserve Newport Fields. “In our view, the proposal violates RA covenants concerning the conservation of green space, and we believe it amounts to a taking of a shared community resource for the private gain of Reston Soccer.”
Similar issues were brought up during a community meeting on the proposal earlier this month. After that meeting, Reston Soccer requested a Design Review Board session on the proposal that had been scheduled for Feb. 21 be postponed.
Residents expressing their concern about the proposal pointed to Reston Soccer’s ongoing fundraisers as proof that the project’s approval by the board was a foregone conclusion. Director Julie Bitzer (South Lakes District) said the proposal’s timeline remains in its early stages.
“To think the horse is out of the barn, and that we put the cart before the horse, is jumping to a conclusion,” she said. “We’re not there yet.”
In their decision to table the proposal, the board also directed CEO Cate Fulkerson to work in collaboration with the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee and other strategic partners to develop a five-year strategic plan describing future amenities and facilities to serve RA and its members.
A number of residents of the communities around the fields stated they did not feel they were properly alerted to proposal and to each stage of the process. The board voted to direct Fulkerson to work with the Community Engagement Advisory Committee to develop a member-notification process — similar to the 21-day notice requirement established for design review applications — to gather community input when considering major recreation amenity proposals.
“Our communication out to the community of some of the changes is not perfect,” Bitzer said. “We have a lot of work to do to make sure we get the message out… [and] we need to do better on that.”
At-Large Director Ray Wedell cast the lone opposition vote on the decision to table the proposal, saying he believes it should be scrapped altogether.
“We can push the can down the road and say, ‘Let’s look at it later on and analyze it further,’ [but] we have a lot of other things to look at,” he said. “I don’t see this ever happening; I think the objection from the people is too strong, too organized.”
After a community input meeting Wednesday night on improvements to Lake Newport soccer fields, the Reston Soccer Association has requested the postponement of a Design Review Board session slated for later this month.
The proposal from Reston Soccer would include the installation of artificial turf fields, LED lighting and a clubhouse building at the fields. All would be paid for by Reston Soccer, but the project would need to be approved by member referendum.
Robert Anguizola, Reston Soccer president, said in an email to Reston Association CEO Cate Fulkerson that concerns of residents in the area deserve more time for consideration:
“During the community input meeting [Wednesday] night, we heard that many residents in the clusters surrounding the fields felt that they did not have adequate notice of the community meeting and the upcoming DRB Information Session. We also heard pleas from many for more time to absorb our proposal and to further engage with their neighbors, RA and Reston Soccer. That seems like a reasonable request and for that reason we respectfully request postponement of the February 21 DRB Information Session on the Lake Newport Soccer proposal.”
Video of the meeting is available on the Reston Association YouTube channel.
According to Mike Leone, RA’s communications director, Reston Association will inform residents of the communities that the presentation has been postponed.
Anguizola said Reston Soccer “looks forward to further engagement with the community on this important project” and would renew its request for a DRB information session later this year.
Reston Soccer Association and Reston Association are holding a community input meeting tonight from 7-9 p.m. “with residents from clusters adjacent to the Lake Newport Soccer Fields to discuss their potential concerns regarding RSA’s proposed enhancements to the field.” The meeting will be at RA’s headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
Earlier Wednesday, women’s professional soccer team the Washington Spirit announced they would be partnering with Reston Soccer to bring a U.S. Girls’ Development Academy to Reston later this year. Robert Anguizola, Reston Soccer president, said the project and the academy are not directly related, as Reston Soccer also plays at a number of other facilities in Reston. However, he said, improvements to Lake Newport’s fields would be beneficial from multiple standpoints.
“[The partnership] highlights the need for better fields so that we can continue to attract good players, coaches and soccer programs here,” he said. “The partnership with Washington Spirit, that we hope will be a long-term partnership, gives us a good fundraising platform.”
Not everyone is happy about the development, though.
Eric McErlain, president of Bayfield Station, one of the clusters in question, says he is a soccer fan. However, he adds, he was irked by the fact that very few people in his community were even aware of the meeting or the proposal as a whole.
“Only a portion of the community received letters by mail from the RA,” he said. “The letter was dated Jan. 27, but the envelope wasn’t postmarked until Jan. 30, and the envelope itself didn’t get to me until Friday. I didn’t open my mail until Saturday, and there it was.”
McErlain said he and other residents of the area — which also includes Arbor Glen and Concord Green clusters — have been trying to spread the word about tonight’s meeting.
Anguizola has previously estimated the improvements will add 191 extra field hours during the season and 550 during what is now the offseason. McErlain said he is worried about what that will mean for the neighborhood.
“I’m incredibly concerned, now that I see more and more the scale and the scope of it,” he said. “I can’t help but be alarmed, and I can’t help but feel the RA is rushing us and not giving us enough time to study this project and be able to comment on it intelligently.”
Reston Association and Reston Soccer are separate and independent entities.
The Reston Association board set a timeline in October on discussion about the project, including public hearings in the early part of this year. Tonight’s meeting is the “first in a series” on the matter, said Mike Leone, RA’s communications director. Should the board allow the project to move forward, a member referendum would take place.
Anguizola said continued discussions with the community, starting with tonight’s meeting, will help determine the future of the project.
“It should be a happy development for the community, because I think it’s part of the civic fabric,” he said. “[But] we’re happy to have a conversation.”
Reston Association hopes to start the process soon for for two artificial turf soccer fields — paid for by Reston Soccer — to be installed at RA’s Lake Newport Soccer fields.
The implementation of the estimated $2.4 million plan depends on many factors, including a member referendum under RA bylaws.
According to the Reston Deed, if the Board of Directors wishes to make a single capital addition, alteration or improvement to the Common Area that costs more than $369,000, there must be a referendum. A 10 percent turnout is necessary for a quorum, with 51 percent of those votes needed to pass the referendum.
The RA Board will vote at its meeting Thursday on a timeline that includes:
- Gathering input from RA groups, including the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, Environmental Advisory Committee, Design Review Board (21 day Notice Requirements to adjacent neighbors/cluster apply to DRB information session) and Fiscal Committee this fall/winter. The groups will report their opinions to RA by January. The Fiscal Committee will also formulate a five-year cost analysis.
- The Board Operations Committee will draft non-Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will form the basis of a 20-year agreement between Reston Association and Reston Soccer Association regarding the use and maintenance of the synthetic turf fields.
- RA will hold public hearings on the proposed referendum question, fact sheet and MOU in mid-January and February.
- In late February, the board would decide whether to move forward with a member referendum. The referendum would take place in March and close April 3.
Reston Soccer first approached RA about the partnership in July. Reston Soccer President Robert Anguizola said the sports group is not looking for RA money for the project.
“In a referendum, we would ask ‘Does community want this amenity? Yes or No. If the answer is yes, then we would go fundraise,” he said. “What we would ask, if we donate the money, then we want promise we can use it. You would end up having surplus time [to rent it for] other uses and sports.”
Lake Newport is the most suitable place in Reston on which to build the turf fields, Anguizola has said. Virginia laws prohibit a public-private partnership on a Fairfax County Park Authority field (such as at Lake Fairfax Park or at Baron Cameron Park) with special requests for usage. Also, Lake Newport is the only RA field complex with two fields, as well as space for other potential amenities such as the clubhouse or a tot lot.
Adding turf and lights would add 191 extra field hours (assuming lights could be on until 8:30 p.m.) per season, plus an additional 550 hours in what is now the offseason, said Anguizola.
Anguizola says the organization would use organic material and not tire crumb rubber for the turf surface.
The RA Board was receptive to the idea at previous meetings.