Reston, VA

The Lake Thoreau Pool is set to receive a facelift now that the Reston Association and Fairfax County have decided it’s time for an update.

The pool at 2040 Upper Lake Drive was originally built in the 80s’ and hasn’t been remodeled since, according to the Reston Association.

Safety concerns brought forth by Dewberry Consultants in 2017 revealed that there are several safety issues with the pool, including wooden retaining walls and cracks in the facility, according to RA’s website.

The pool does not currently meet Fairfax County’s safety guidelines, and RA announced on its website the pool will be closed for the upcoming 2020 season.

The restoration process will begin in 2020 with a planning and ideation stage, according to RA.

A timeline given at a recent meeting suggested that construction will begin in 2021, and the new facility will be completed by 2022 if all goes according to plan.

It is unclear how much the restoration project will cost, a Reston Association spokesperson said, adding that the board was already given $350,000 to begin the project.

Now, the RA board members are preparing to hear community feedback regarding the project.

Image via Reston Association/YouTube

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Monday Morning Notes

Community Meeting on Lake Thoreau Project Today — Reston Association staff will meet with members to discuss future plans for the pool, which will be closed for the 2020 season. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. tonight (Monday) at RA headquarters. [Reston Association]

Metro’s Budget Proposal to Increase Fares, Restore Night Service —  “Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year would increase peak fares, offer a flat weekend fare and expand late-night service for the first time since a 2016 moratorium.” [The Washington Post]

Season Extended for Local Farmers Markets — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will extend the season at three farmers market locations; Burke, Reston, and McCutcheon/Mount Vernon Farmers Markets.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Ray Copson

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Residents can learn more about the future of Lake Thoreau pool at a special community meeting on Monday, Nov. 4 at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

RA staff will update the community on safety concerns highlighted by a recent engineering report, as well as how the association plans to address structural problems of the nearly 40-year-old facility.

The 2019 report found a number of structural cracks in the facility’s retaining wall. A representative from Kimley Horn, an engineering firm that conducted a 2017 study on the pool, will also attend the meeting.

Members will also have an opportunity to ask questions after the presentation by RA staff.

At a recent meeting, RA’s Board of Directors and staff indicated the pool will likely be closed for the 2020 season. The association expects to engage with the community to determine future plans for the facility.

Photo via Flickr/vantagehill

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A recent engineering report has flagged several safety issues with Lake Thoreau pool — including cracks in the pool’s retaining wall —  prompting the Reston Association to once again reconsider the future of the nearly 40-year-old facility.

An Oct. 23 report by engineering firm Terracon found that two sections of the pool’s retaining wall were below minimum safety standards. The firm recommended that RA replace or remediate the pool’s existing timber retaining wall — a move that would likely impact the existing pool deck or shell during demolition and reconstruction efforts.

The report — which echoes similar findings by Dewberry Consultants in 2017 — also notes that the retaining wall has “slightly rotated/creeped down” towards Lake Thoreau. Cracks were also found in the pool shell and concrete deck. Dewberry, which was contracted by RA to complete a preliminary engineering assessment three years ago, recommended that RA replace the retaining wall within one to two years, noting that the pool structure “appears sound enough to restore for additional long-term service.”

At a meeting last week, RA staff suggested reimagine the future of the pool, especially given that the cost of replacing the retaining wall may be too burdensome.

“Do we look at this as the opportunity to do something perhaps more interesting and this is obviously working with the community and so forth,” said Larry Butler, RA’s Chief Operating Officer.

The pool — which staff said does not meet Fairfax County safety guidelines — may be closed for the 2020 season, according to RA.

“Generally speaking, it should not be occupied,” said Chris Schumaker, RA’s senior capital projects operations manager.

In the event the pool is closed next year, RA Board Director Julie Bitzer encouraged the corporation to accommodate members by extending hours at other community pools.

The conversation — which will include community engagement — is in its early stages and no plans have been formally proposed. In recent months, members urged RA’s board to keep the pool– which they described as a community asset and a major attraction for area neighborhoods — open.

Currently, the cost of replacing the retaining wall is unknown.

Photo via vantagehill

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Boat Rental Season Extended — Reston Association has extended boat rental season through Oct. 15. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays,  11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m on Oct. 14. [Reston Association]

County Seeks Comment on High School Science Resources — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is soliciting public review and comment on basal instructional resources under consideration for high school science.  A basal resource review committee composed of community members, administrators, and teachers will meet this fall to review and recommend new high school science instructional resources to the Fairfax County School Board.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Lake Thoreau Pool Structural Analysis Update — Reston Association has received preliminary findings from engineers about the pool’s concrete decking and shell. A complete analysis and recommendations is expected in October. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Several Reston Association members spoke in favor of Lake Thoreau pool — what they described as a community asset and a major draw for area neighborhoods — at a budget meeting on Wednesday (August 21).

During the special meeting between RA’s fiscal committee and Board of Directors, residents pushed RA to keep the pool open. The future of the pool has been in question after emails by Board of Director Julie Bitzer circulated in the community. One email states that the pool is slated to be closed next year as the board considered whether or not to renovate the pool or find other uses for the space.

When asked about Bitzer’s emails and the future of the pool, RA’s spokesperson said the organization said speculation the pool was slated to close next year was rumor.

As part of its budget development process, RA’s board and staff are gathering data on pool utilization rates.

“There have been no formal conversations by the RA Board on pool closing for the 2020 season,” said Mike Leone, RA’s director of communications, marketing and member services, in an August 14 statement.

Leone added that RA is conducting a review of all amenities, facilities and programs as part of budget deliberations  in order to ensure “RA is offering members the best services and value for their annual assessment.”

At the meeting, RA members said the pool is a significant community resources that they hope will stay. Others said contradictory information about the pool has created confusion in the community.

“I am just living to think that I found out by rumors that the pool is going to close,” said Susanne Joyner, a Cutwater Court resident. “What is the [ulterior] motive to this?”

The board will formally adopt the 2020-2021 budget in November.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association has no immediate plans to temporarily or permanently close Lake Thoreau Pool, contrary to community speculation that the pool is set to shutter due to low usage next year.

The future of the pool — which is in need of major renovations and has struggled with comparatively low utilization — has been the focus of discussion over the last several years. Last year, one RA board members said the pool was “falling into the lake.”

So far, staff and the Board of Director have had no formal conversations to discuss any and all operational and capital costs associated with pools for next year’s season, said RA’s spokesman Mike Leone.

An August 8 email from Julie Bitzer, the board’s vice president, about the fate of the pool has attracted recent community concern. Some RA members circulated a flyer indicating that the pool would be closed next year as RA examines whether it should pursue renovation or consider another use of the space.

Leone said that speculation was simply a “rumor.”

RA is in the early phases of its budget development process. As part of ongoing discussions, board and staff are gathering data on the utilization and of RA’s community pools and other recreational amenities.

The organization’s analysis of its recreational facilities will help RA determine if and how future amenities will be impacted by closures, renovations or other changes.

A budget workshop on the first draft of the 2020-2021 budget is set for August 21 at RA headquarters (12000 Sunrise Valley Drive). A series of meetings, including public hearings, will precede the adoption of the budget in November.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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New art by South Lakes High School’s STEAM team was installed on the Lake Thoreau spillway this month.

The piece, called “Spectrum,” is composed of five wooden interlocking rectangular prism made of different sizes and colors. Wood, paint and metal brackets were used to create the piece.

Public Art Reston issued the following description about the project:

After two years of creating sculptures with strong conceptual origins that featured minimalist color palettes, STEAM decided to change direction and create a sculpture that prioritized an exploration of aesthetic elements over a representation of a tangible theme. To do so, STEAM started out with one of the most basic geometric forms, the cube, with the intention for the emergence of an infinitely more complex, powerful, and unique form. The end result is Spectrum, a celebration of line, form, and color, unleashing the potential and power in the austerity of the formal elements employed in the sculpture.  More specifically, basic line accentuated by its rainbow palette; a conglomeration of neon hues, and soft gradients similar to strawberry sherbets and dusky sunsets. The process of constructing the sculpture became a form of beacon for students who had not been involved in the sculpture thus far. In other words, a congregation of students turned out to collaborate in fabricating the sculpture, students that were not the weekly attendees through-out the year. 

The project seeks to represent a “proverbial village.” Students involved in the project — which was created under the direction of SLHS art teacher Marco Rando — come from various racial and social backgrounds.  

Rando said the vision of the project is embodied by the mission of the SLHS STEAM public art club:

The way the program has developed over its 7 years, I see as a formal meditation. Most people hearing the word meditation would think of a practice to make one feel better. While that might be a wonderful by product, experienced meditators know it’s the process of discipline, which is demanding and requires commitment. While at the same time, one most journey lightly as not to be self-defeating.   

Since this is an art project, creative ego’s are essential, however, students learn quickly and become intuitive to the necessity of team work as key to the projects success. This meditative process is challenging students to exert themselves, using their inquisitive minds as an element of practice. In order to be an effective student, one learns to be highly inquisitive.

Students experience firsthand that information is not a foreign element but just a state of furthering their inquisitiveness. This meditative participation involves revealing 2 factors, it relates to the individual and it relates to their world. Their training becomes synchronistic, discovering, seeing, and living their efforts to have a direct impact in their community.  Ultimately students are creatively serving their society by developing and exercising multiple disciplines to achieve a work of art. Like most art work, the student project is meant to foster dialogue. For me, the dialogue is about how to create more public art that affords students the opportunity to perform at a professional level; the meditative process of living and experiencing life.

SLHS, Reston Association and Public Art Reston partnered to bring “Spectrum” to the spillway.

Project sponsors include the Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association, Mary and David Prochnow, MOD Pizza, Hope and Hayes McCarty, Priscilla Miller and E.T. Conrad.

Photo 1 and 2 by Russ Evans; Photo 3 via Public Art Reston

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Reston Association’s employees are working to remove a large tree that collapsed into Lake Thoreau during a recent storm.

Unlike previous trees that were removed with a crane, the tree in Lake Thoreau is being removed with saws and the help of boats.

RA also worked in coordination with a homeowner to make the project happen.

“With every project, we make sure it’s done safely and in a safe manner,” said Ali Khatibi, RA’s Central Services Facility manager, in a recent Reston Today video.

The homeowners association only removes trees on its properties. To request tree removal, residents should call 703-437-7658.

Video via Reston Today/YouTube

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Several pools suddenly closed over the holiday weekend when Reston Association announced that it did not have enough lifeguards to staff several of the 15 pools the organization manages.

Now, RA is moving aggressively to hire more lifeguards ahead of the weekend in what is becoming an annual and familiar staffing challenge. The problem was exacerbated by several lifeguards who called in sick over the weekend, according to RA.

In the past, RA has changed the staffing structure so that lifeguards are standalone positions. Duties previous performed by lifeguards are separated into other positions like desk attendant and pool operator. Staff are also exploring increasing the pay for lifeguards and changing the pool schedule for peak hours.

There are many competing opportunities for summer employment in this area to include summer internships, family schedules and vacations, restaurants, other services and with growth in the area other summer jobs are available at a higher salary. Ten years ago, this was not the case, a lifeguarding job was sought out with our roster filled and substitutes waiting for an opportunity for a full time role,” Mike Leone, RA’s director of communications, marketing and member services wrote in s statement to Reston Now.

RA is hiring for 200 full-time lifeguards positions and unlimited substitute positions. So far, 156 people have applied.

Leone also attributed the shortage to an overall reduction in the number of teens between age 16 and 19 who are actively participating in the workforce. 

But staffing was not the only reason that pools closed over the weekend.

All pool are currently open, but Lake Thoreau’s pool remains closed after staff found broken glass bottles on the deck and in the pool over the weekend. RA believes vandalism happened sometime between the overnight hours of Friday to Saturday.

The pool will reopen once a scuba diver inspects the facility and clears it for reopening. Divers are expected to begin work early this week, but it’s unclear when the pool will reopen.

Uplands lap pool also closed temporarily after some equipment failed over the weekend. The issue has now been resolved and all areas of the pool are now open.

In a statement, RA’s CEO Hank Lynch apologized for the closures.

“Like many community and recreational associations in our area, RA is trying to meet the challenge of hiring staff for various summertime positions,” he said.

So far, no changes to the weekend pool schedule are proposed. RA plans to update members about the weekend schedule as the week progresses.

A job fair to recruit more lifeguards is set for Thursday (May 30) at 6 p.m. at Newbridge Pool and June 13 at 4 p.m. at Lake Newport Pool.

RA’s recruitment strategy also includes emailing local sports groups, working with local universities, turning to social media, and providing information during community events.

File photo

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Reston Association to Treat Algae in Lake Anne and Lake Thoreau — RA’s aquatic consultants will treat blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, with algaecide on Friday (May 24). There will be no restrictions on fishing or boating following the application. [Reston Association]

Deadline for Study on Fairfax County and Franconia-Springfield Parkways Extended — Residents now have until June 3 to submit comments about the long-range study, which provides recommendations for 2040 and beyond for the corridor. The plan also considers whether changes should be made to the county’s transportation plan. [Fairfax County Government]

A Review of ‘The Accidental Pundette’ — Nancy Giles, a commentator and comedian, offers an evening of tongue-in-cheek humor and insight on June 1 at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Tickets are $25 for Restonians and $35 for all others. [The Connection]

Photo via Reston Association

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Updated at 12:25 p.m. on Friday (March 29) — The grand opening will be held on April 27 at Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will not be a soft opening on Monday (April 1).

pet care service called Woofie’s plans to hold a grand opening near the end of April for its new Reston location.

Established by pet owners in 2004, Woofie’s currently serves locals in Ashburn, Pomotac Station and Lansdowne with more than 70 pet sitters and dog walkers, along with offering seven mobile pet vans, according to its website.

The new spot at 1897 Preston White Drive is right off of the Dulles Toll Road and close to Lake Thoreau.

Woofie’s also plans to open another franchise location in Leesburg.

Photo via Woofies/Facebook

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(Updated at 9:35 p.m. on Feb. 21) Woofie’s, a pet care service that offers a mobile pet salon, pet sitting and dog walking, plans to open one of its two upcoming franchise locations in Reston.

The Facebook page for the Reston location says it is “coming soon” to 1897 Preston White Drive. The spot is right off of the Dulles Toll Road and close to Lake Thoreau.

“We are shooting for an opening date in early April,” Renee Ventrice, the vice president of Marketing for Woofie’s Pet Ventures, told Reston Now.

The second franchise location is set for Leesburg.

Established by pet owners in 2004, Woofie’s currently serves locals in Ashburn, Pomotac Station and Lansdowne with more than 70 pet sitters and walkers and seven mobile pet vans, according to its website.

Photos via Woofies/Facebook, Google Maps

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Singer and musician Ted Garber is bringing his blues, Americana and rock music back to Reston later this week.

Garber started his career by performing covers on the streets of New Orleans before heading to the 9:30 Club, Blues Alley and the Strathmore in the D.C.-area, according to his bio.

Now, Garber is a well-known musician around the Northern Virginia area, who often stops by Reston on his tours and for community events.

Garber is set to perform on Friday (Feb. 22) at 9 p.m. at Red’s Table (11150 South Lakes Drive), an American eatery by Lake Thoreau that was started by three siblings who grew up in Reston. The event does not have a cover charge.

Photo via Ted Garber/Facebook

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This week on Then and Now, we’re going back to our roots as seeing how Reston’s iconic lakes have changed over the years. With help from Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer, which offers aerial views of the county dating back to 1937, Reston Now has put together a review of how the area around Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon has evolved since the lake’s creation.

Like Lake Anne, there was no “South Lakes” in photography from 1960. Reston as a planned community was founded in 1964. Before that, much of what is the South Lakes were forests with a few cut-through roads. Interestingly, where Lake Audubon would be built later there was a large pond.

Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon were built as reservoirs collecting the runoff created by the rapid urbanization nearby. Lake Thoreau was built in 1970 and Lake Audubon was built in 1971, though from the aerial photography there wasn’t much of a “lake” about Audubon until the late 1980s.

One of the earliest large scale developments in the area was the South Lakes High School, which opened in 1978 on 600 acres of land with an “open classroom” design.

The school was not broken into individual classrooms, a plan teachers and students discovered early on was ineffective and distracting. They wound up building temporary barriers until more permanent ones built in 2006 killed the open classroom idea for good.

Langston Hughes Middle School was originally an intermediate school for South Lakes High School, but in 1980 it was officially renamed the Langston Hughes Intermediate School, then Langston Hughes Middle School in the early 1990s.

By 1980, new residential developments had sprung up along the northern and southern edges of Lake Thoreau.

In 1984, the South Lakes Shopping Center opened, marking the last major shift in the area, though the design of that area could be undergoing some visible changes.

Between 1990 and 2017, most of the changes to the area involved the filling in of residential developments in the vicinity of the lake. In 2006, South Lakes High School also expanded and the aforementioned open-space classroom model was eliminated.

If you enjoyed this piece, check out our Then and Now coverage of:

If there are any places in Reston you would like to see covered as a Then and Now feature, let us know in the comments.

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