First day of school — Fairfax County Public Schools are back in session today. Local police are reminding commuters to be wary of school traffic and buses. [Herndon Police Department]
Reston 101 — In case you need a basic primer, Mercia Hobson offers a brief description of the Planned Residential Community and its five village centers. [The Connection]
Something different at the end of the tunnel — Lake Anne students and staff painted a community circles mural at the entry to a tunnel on Fairway Drive on August 17. [Patch]
Nearby: Man who exposed himself found — Local police have found a man who exposed himself to a woman in a church parking lot over the weekend. Police released an image of the suspect yesterday. [WJLA, Fairfax County Police Department]
Photo by Ruth Sievers
To swing into the new season, the Reston Association will be hosting a Tennis Racquet Demo Day at the Lake Newport tennis courts on Saturday, May 12, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Reston Association tennis program manager Rob Tucker will have several racquets on hand for people to try out, including some of the newest models from brands like Babolat, Wilson, Dunlop and Head.
Tennis instructors will also be there to show people how the racquets are used, and to help players figure out which racquet is right for their game.
Photo via Reston Association
Reston Soccer is hoping to organize dozens of young soccer players in uniform to attend Thursday’s Reston Association Board of Directors meeting to lobby for “a new home for Reston Soccer.”
Reston Soccer President Robert Anguizola told Reston Now last month that the organization, which serves more than 1,500 youth soccer players, wants to turn two fields, preferably at RA”s Lake Newport Soccer, into artificial turf fields.
“We are doing a lot of things to improve player development,” Anguizola said . “One thing that is a big part of that is field and facility quality.”
Anguilzola will present a plan to the RA Board Thursday that takes Reston Soccer’s plans way beyond field conversion.
Said Reston Soccer in an email to members:
Reston Soccer will present its proposal for building a new home for Reston Soccer at Lake Newport Soccer fields which would include: 2 full size synthetic turf fields with plant derived infill (not tire crumb!); low glare LED lights; bathrooms; and a clubhouse!”
[We are] looking to partner with Reston Association and raise the funds via grassroots fundraising by Reston Soccer, proffers, corporate sponsorships, phased building over number of years if necessary. Eager to work with the community in a collaborative manner to minimize the impact and support the needs of the surrounding community.
While supplies last, we will give anyone that comes to the meeting to support Reston Soccer a Reston Strong jersey! Need to fill the room to the gills. We need to show that people love soccer in Reston and care about better fields!
The RA Board will not vote on this proposal Thursday; the presentation is for discussion only.
In 2013, RA gave South Lakes High School $50,000 for a $2 million project to convert two grass fields to turf. In turn, RA got places on the turf usage schedule. RA originally had committed $100,000 to the project.
Reston Soccer donated $150,000 to the SLHS project.
Anguizola said in June Reston Soccer has benefitted from additional playing time on the SLHS fields, Reston still needs additional turf fields.
The invader is Bladderwort, and Bill Kirkpatrick of Aquatic Environmental Consultants says its a particularly pesky and unusual aquatic plant that is not typically found in this part of Virginia.
Kirkpatrick is not sure why, but Lake Newport experienced a dramatic growth of the plant last summer. Bladderwort is ecologically beneficial for fish, insects in turtles, but eventually breaks loose and forms dense floating mats on the lake surface.
“RA staff does recognize the dense floating mats are really unsightly,” said Nicki Bellezza, RA’s Watershed Manager.
Kirkpatrick said the plant is typically found in nutrient-poor, boggy, rather acidic areas, which are “places plants can’t thrive.” He said Lake Newport is nutrient-rich, which adds to the mystery.
The environmental consultants thought the stock of grass carp, a fish that feeds on such plants (and has been previously added to Lake Newport to help control Hydrilla) could help control the Bladderwort, but is has not worked.
“We added more grass carp in fall,” he said. “But we are not getting ahead of it. Bladderwort usually dies in winter. It didn’t die this winter and .will start to grow again in spring.”
The new plan for controlling this plant is an aquatic herbicide, which will likely be applied in May. The herbicide will hopefully, kill back the Bladderwort, said Kirkpatrick, with the grass carp eating the remaining plants.
The herbicide is safe for fish and other animals, he added.
“This is an ongoing problem we will have to deal with at Lake Newport,” he said. “It didn’t used to be a problem. But this one particular species is not behaving as it would.”
Photo: Bladderwort/Flickr user CW Gan, Creative Commons
Reston Association says the lake has been experiencing a dramatic growth of bladderwort, a submerged aquatic plant that floats to the surface forming dense mats.
“Bladderwort is unique in that it captures its food in tiny bladders, similar to the venus fly trap,” RA said in a release. “There are no health-related issues associated with the existence of this plant on the lake.”
Even though the matted plants are unsightly, they are actually ecologically beneficial.
Bladderwort is a beneficial habitat for fish and aquatic insects, turtles and frogs, says RA. And now that it is October, bladderwort, like all aquatic plants, is expected to die back within the next 30 days when the water temperatures start to get colder.
RA says bladderwort likes to grow in shallow water and that Lake Newport. Meanwhile, Lake Newport has been filling in with sediment over the last 10-13 years and is scheduled to be dredged in 2017.
“RA has treated Lake Newport to control the white water lily. In doing so, it opened the lake bottom sediments up to additional light. There is excess fertility of the lake with the added nutrients from the decaying lilies and runoff of fertilizer and lawn chemicals. The bladderwort reproduces quickly and is coating the entire visible lake bottom.
RA staff removed some of the bladderwort by hand on Sept. 16-17., but much of the plant still remains.”
RA says it will not be further treating the invasion this late in the season.
“Even if RA treated it this fall, the plant would still come back next spring,” said Nicki Bellezza, RA’s Watershed Manager.
Also, the association will be going to a more natural control agent next year: stocking the lake with plant-eating grass carp in the spring to feast on the new plants.
Photo: Bladderwort removal at Lake Newport/Courtesy Reston Association
To buy or not to buy? That is a the question Reston Association’s Board of Directors is asking members in regards to RA’s potential purchase of the former Reston Visitors Center.
The first of two public hearings will take place Thursday at 6 p.m. at RA Headquarters, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr.
This is a chance for RA members to speak up on whether RA should spend about $2.65 million to buy the 3,200-square-foot building at 11450 Baron Cameron Ave. A member referendum is planned for April, and the RA By-Laws say the board cannot make the purchase without the approval of a majority of RA members.
Here is what the referendum will ask:
Should the Reston Association, acting through the Board of Directors, be authorized to:
- Purchase the Tetra property, inclusive of land and improvements, located at 11450 Baron Cameron Avenue, Reston, VA 20190 in the North Point District as an addition to Common Area pursuant to Article IV, Section IV.10 of the Reston Deed; and,
- Borrow up to $2.65 million on behalf of the association to make the purchase and repurpose the property for future community and recreation uses?
The board announced last month it is looking into purchasing the building, which currently houses Tetra commercial real estate.
The building was the Reston Visitors Center from 1982 to 2003. It sits on 3 1/2 acres near Lake Newport and several RA recreational spaces. RA is not yet certain what the building would be used for, though CEO Cate Fulkerson says it will be “community and recreational space” and not RA offices.
Here are some main points to consider:
RA says it will borrow $2.65 million, based on a recent appraisal. However, the 2014 county tax assessment values the building at $1,428,370.
Financial terms would likely be a zero-interest down payment and financing at 3.45 percent. The term would be a 20-year amortization schedule, but the loan matures at 10 years and would need to be refinanced at that time, says RA CFO David Harris. There would be $16,000 in loan costs at settlement.
RA is planning on $650,000 from developer proffers that will cover repurposing costs. Fulkerson says she could not name the developer or the project yet, but that the association is close to an agreement.
RA projects $123,000 annual income from facility rentals and net income.
Property taxes are $19,500, but once the space is converted to RA common area in 2016 it would no longer be subject to property or real estate tax. Insurance would be about $1,500 annually. Cleaning costs would be $10,000 a year. Estimated repair and maintenance costs are $5,000. Utilities about $15,000 a year. Trash collection, $2,000 a year. Harris estimates those costs would rise by about 3 percent annually.
Tetra will lease back from RA through end of 2015. The company would also pay cleaning and utility costs during that time.
Capital improvements will take place first six months of 2016.
Annual cash flow figures show a positive flow the first four years. In 2019, there would be a negative flow that would result in an impact of just under $3 per member assessment, said Harris. The following year it would be just under $4 per member.
However, assumptions are being made using current association members, including the soon-to-open apartments at The Harrison. There will be hundreds more members coming into the association when Crescent, Reston Heights and other new housing is completed, said Fulkerson.
The building is in the current Reston Master Plan as a convenience center, which means it could be used for a variety of purposes, including retail and restaurant. The original plans for the building approved years ago include a second story addition that could make a 6,930-square-foot restaurant, RA officials said. The restaurant would also be allowed to construct up to 50 feet into Lake Newport.
RA is working to remove the convenience center plan under the ongoing Reston Master Plan Phase 2 draft. RA attorneys are recommending the plan designation be changed to limited office and community use whether RA purchases the property or not in order to protect it from becoming a large commercial venture.
There will be a second public hearing on the topic on March 26.
The board has approved a fast-track schedule to get the deal done (pending member approval) by this summer. Here is the timetable:
- Feb. 26 — First public hearing
- March — More community discussion at four already planned district meetings
- March 26 — Second public hearing; board to consider conditional contract pending referendum
- April 13 — Ballots mailed out to member. Only property owners (and not renters) would be eligible to vote
- May 8 — Deadline to return ballots
- May 11 — Election results announced
RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said previously the reason for the quick schedule is “this sets us up for 2016-17 budget cycle, so we know what to plan for.”
“I have been a Reston resident for 36 years,” said Fulkerson. “I remember when [the building] was a visitors center. I watched the movie with my parents when they were curious about North Point. It is gorgeous, and I would like to add it to RA’s portfolio. The building itself has a wide range of opportunities.”