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Thursday Morning Notes

Stay away from Lake Audubon and Lake Thoreau — A toxic algae bloom spotted at the lakes two weeks ago remains, so Reston Association staff are encouraging residents to avoid contact with the water. Pets also shouldn’t swim or drink from the lakes. [Reston Association]

Silver Line investigation continues — Metro’s Office of the Inspector General announced Wednesday that it’ll take over an investigation into flawed concrete in phase two of the Silver Line extension project. The effort is currently overseen by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. [The Washington Post, WMATA]

A natural recovery at Sunrise Valley Elementary School — When a renovation project at the school required the removal of trees to maintain line of sight for pedestrians and drivers, Reston Association, the school system and two design firms partnered to restore a natural area at the school. The area is now a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and other animals. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Residents Urged to Avoid Contact with Lake Audubon and Lake Thoreau

A harmful algae bloom spotted on Lake Audubon a little over a week ago remains on the lake. The bloom, called Microcystis, was can produce toxins that are lethal for livestock, fish, and people. Some toxins have been linked to liver cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency says Microcystis is a common form of algae that is “almost always toxic.” It resembles a green, thick, paint-like material and tends to gather along shores.

As the algae bloom continues, Reston Association is advising all residents to avoid contact with the water. Pets should not swim in or drink from the water.

In a statement, RA said consultants have indicated a drop in the temperature of the water will help get rid of the bloom.

Also, purple and green clumps floating on the surface of Lake Thoreau were identified as Plankothrix algae, which can also produce toxins. Residents should also avoid contact with that water.

Thus far, no toxicity tests have been conducted by RA.

Photo by Reston Association

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Reston Association Monitors Algae Bloom at Lake Thoreau

A bloom of purple algae has appeared at Lake Thoreau. Reston Association is monitoring the bloom of Planktothrix rubescens algae.

In a statement, RA said that the algae likely appeared because heavy rains washed different nutrients and sediment into the lake.

Although the algae are expected to clear up on its own, people and pets should avoid ingesting water from the lake. The algae should disappear on its own as cooler conditions take over.

Blue and green algae that appeared on Lake Audubon disappeared after floating on the lake three years ago.

Photo via RA

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Sediment Removal Almost Complete at Lake Thoreau

Maintenance work to clear sediment and debris caught in the channels of Lake Thoreau could be complete this month.

Lake dredging began in early April and was delayed after a recent failure of dredging equipment. Reston Association anticipates the part that malfunctioned will be delivered and installed soon. Once the cove is dredged, RA’s contractor, Lake Services, Inc., will clean up the staging area next to the Lake Thoreau dam.

Dredging helps maintain the depth of channels and reduces the exposure of fish, wildlife and people to contaminants, according to the National Ocean Service.

RA expects to remove about 848,290 liquid gallons or 4,200 cubic yards worth of material. The project was initially expected to be complete by the end of June. 

Photo by vantagehill

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Art Project by South Lakes High School Students Planned Over Lake Thoreau

An art piece by students at South Lakes High School will be suspended over Lake Thoreau this month. The project, called Connie’s Quilt, is made of rings of white tubing strung together to convey one central theme: community is defined by the connections we have with those around us.

Students from the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) club created the sculpture, with help from the school’s photo, art and design teacher Marco Rando.

Public Art Reston offered the following description of the work:

Connie’s Quilt, is made from rings of white tubing strung together to create an organic and kinetic sculpture suspended over the lake. The artwork, comprised of many parts, is representative of our societal fabric and the importance of connectivity between people. Connie’s Quilt sets out to dispel the myth of the “self-made man” and identify the reality that nobody gets where they are without support from family and friends. Interdependence is crucial to the survival and prosperity of any community, which is represented by the supportive and holistic nature of the rings.

In testimony submitted to Reston Association’s Design Review Board, some residents said that while they appreciated the student’s efforts, the art sculpture was not a welcome addition to the lake.

The proposed sculpture at first glance looks sinister and immediately brought memories of jails and detention centers to my mind – quite the opposite of a peaceful lakeside collection of communities,” wrote Teri-E Belf, a Reston resident.

Echoing similar concerns, Reston resident Najwa Margaret Saad wrote the sculpture evoked unpleasant images that were not appropriate “at a time when our current American public narrative is about refugees, deportations and such.”

“The design size and aspect are not in harmony with the expansive, peaceful, natural, flowing environment of our Lake Thoreau,” Saad added.

On Thursday (June 14) at 6 p.m., the artwork will be on display before it is installed at the Lake Thoreau Spillway. Students will also offer their thoughts on the project. The reception will be held at SLHS in Room 367. RSVPs are requested at [email protected].

Photos via Public Art Reston

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Reston Association to Continue Discussions on Recreational Facilities’ Cost and Usage

As the mid-year point before next year’s budget cycle approaches, Reston Association’s Board of Directors and staff will discuss how to approach a comprehensive analysis of RA’s recreational facilities.

The analysis, requested by Director Julie Bitzer in March, would be the first comprehensive examination of RA’s recreational facilities in 13 years.

Larry Butler, acting CEO and senior director of land use and planning, said the last study was done in 2005 and examined issues like cost utilization trends, usage, maintenance, repairs and suggested upgrades.

Staff recommended hiring a consultant to complete the study due to limited staff resources over the next two-to-three months and ongoing summer projects like the Hook Road working group and the lakes, docks and boats working group.

The board will hold a work session on June 5 to discuss the scope of the analysis, whether a consultant is needed to complete it and better define the goals and scope of the work.

Other recreation-related decisions may be more pressing.

Board members suggested a timely decision on the future of Lake Thoreau pool, which Director Sherri Hebert said was “falling into the lake,” was necessary. Hebert said an expenditure of $1 million is estimated to bring the aging pool up to go code. No decision on the future of that pool has been reached.

The longterm examination will guide the board’s budget decisions on replacement, repairs and upgrades to facilities.

Photo by Mike Collins

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Monday Morning Notes

Lynchburg police search for Reston man — Police have identified Mark Anthony Goldring Jr., 31, of Reston, as a shooting suspect in a malicious wounding reported late Sunday evening. [WBDJ 7]

Dredging underway at Lake Thoreau — All dozen coves of the lake will be dredged and up to 400 truckloads of material could be removed. [Reston Association]

Five-story hotel approved — A 138-room hotel will replace surface parking in Lake Fairfax Business Park. The county offers an update on the recent approval. [Fairfax County Government]

A fine time — The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival took place in Reston Town Center. A local outlet posted several photos of the art displays and work. [Around Reston]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Sediment Removal to Begin at Lake Thoreau This Weekend

Maintenance work is set to begin this weekend to clear sediment and debris caught in the channels of Lake Thoreau.

Reston Association is working with Lake Services, Inc. to dredge the lake beginning as early as Sunday (April 1).

The work is estimated to be complete by the end of June. RA expects to remove about 848,290 liquid gallons or 4,200 cubic yards worth of material.

Dredging helps maintain the depth of channels and reduces the exposure of fish, wildlife and people to contaminants, according to the National Ocean Service.

Activity will not take place within five feet of any dock structure. The picnic area near South Lakes and Ridge Height Road will be serve as the staging area, according to RA.

Sediment will be removed from the lake and placed in trucks. Disposal will occur at a site in Loudoun County. Access to the pathway near the picnic area may be limited.

Photo via Reston Association

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South Lakes District Candidates Tackle Future Challenges in Election Forum

Tammi Petrine, a community advocate, challenged current director Julie Bitzer for her South Lakes District seat at a Reston Association candidate forum Tuesday night.

Critical decisions regarding public amenities took center stage at the forum, including whether or not to close Shadowood Pool – the most underutilized pool in Reston – and the Lake Thoreau Pool – which requires nearly $1 million in repairs.

Petrine said she would need to gather more information and conduct a stakeholder analysis by speaking with residents before reaching a final decision. She also stated the need to issue multiple bids for projects to ensure RA gets the best deal for services.

“The pools are an amenity that people in Reston expect. At the same time, we have to analyze carefully how they’re used and why or why not they’re not used,” Petrine said.

Bitzer said the board will have to decide whether or not to keep Lake Thoreau’s pool open next year, although she noted that residents she spoke with want to keep the pool open. She also plans to propose a measure to conduct a needs analysis of Reston’s pools.

As RA struggles to strike a balance between capital spending priorities like indoor tennis and soccer, Bitzer said the community should look into public-private partnerships like installing a tennis academy at Hidden Creek Country Club with special benefits for RA members.

In contrast, Petrine took a hard stance against funding indoor tennis for what she said was a “small demographic” and a mere “commercial activity,” especially because the community is “fighting for our lives with density” and aging infrastructure.

“An absolute no,” she said.

Frustrations on limited county resources, including the beleaguered call for a recreation center, for Reston were high at the forum. Petrine said she is “100 percent furious” that the Hunter Mill District is left out of the county.

Similar concerns arose in the candidates’ discussion around a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density as major developments come in the pipeline.

“My gut reaction is: where is the infrastructure you promised me when you put in the Metro?” Bitzer questioned. She said she opposes the population density increase and was appalled about Reston’s lack of workforce housing.

Petrine, who has been instrumental in organizing the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization opposing the plans, said she has taken steps to fight back against the plans “in defense of our balanced community.” She encouraged community members to raise their voice in opposition, noting her experience in observing the intersection between RA and other stakeholders.

“The only thing that matters to our supervisor is mass agreement by citizens that this is not what we want in Reston,” she said.

Both candidates took similar stances on the need to utilize the Lake House. Bitzer suggested adding programming for aquatics and fishing education, similar to the Walker Nature Center.

“Not everything should cost you to use something you own,” she said.

They also posed similar ideas on how to ensure the board operates as an effective and respectful governing body.

Bitzer said holding “open houses” was a sign of respect. “It’s respectful of our community, not just board behavior,” she said.

Petrine is running on a slate with Travis Johnson, Sridhar Ganesan and John Bowman. When asked if it offered her an unfair advantage, she defended the move, which she said was logical given the candidates’ shared views, common goals and commitment to Reston’s core principles.

Bitzer, who described herself as self-funded candidate, said the issue of slate candidates is a fairly new development that has prompted questions by community members. Unlike the slate candidates who sent mailings to constituents, Bitzer said she could not afford major print distributions.

Instead, she will host a public listening session on March 13 at the Walker Nature House.

Click here to view video statements or read candidate statements. Profiles on Petrine and Bitzer are also on our website.

Photo by Reston Association

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For Fourth Year, SLHS STEAM Team Has Public Art Display on Lake Thoreau

For the fourth year in a row, South Lakes High School’s STEAM Team Art Club has designed an art display for Lake Thoreau.

The STEAM Team (science, technology, engineering, art and math) was challenged with creating a kinetic work of art that included natural elements and enriched their community. They came up with “Althea,” which they say represents all aspects of human rights.

The sculpture is made up of rings that rotate randomly, like the “constantly evolving nature and complexity of human rights.” There are concentric circles to depict orbital paths of the planets in the solar system. This is supposed to “reinforce how deeply connected humans are to each other.”

Students were involved in every step of the project with the help of art teacher Marco Rando. They presented three concepts to Public Art Reston and considered their input when they choose the design. The students then produced digital and physical three dimensional models, that were also presented to the board for approval. The Reston Association Design Review Board provided feedback on the final design.

The sculpture is made of galvanized metal, plywood, wire rope and spray paint. It is being displayed on the 19-square foot concrete spillway on Lake Thoreau, visible from South Lakes Drive.

The South Lakes students who worked on Althea were Samantha Busch, Carson Bush, Harrison Cahn, Jonathan Doctor, Isabella Emmons, Yanis Gribi, Christian King, Amirah Kirwan, MacKenzie Krider, Catherine Lashley, Darja Loidap, Phoebe Liu, Leah Moyer, Kimi Nacu, Lucy Nguyen, Saeed Louis Razavi, Morgan Ryan, Victoria Slaski, Jeremy Southern and Lily Vogel. Alumni Jefferson Frost, Margaret Lashley and Josh Rodriguez also assisted.

Previous projects have been “Pyramid of Light” (2014), “Nothing Twice” (2015) and “Simon” (2016).

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Sediment Levels To Be Surveyed in Lake Audubon, Lake Thoreau

Sediment levels in Lake Audubon and Lake Thoreau will be checked later this month.

The lakes will be surveyed by Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc. to measure their sediment levels. Reston Association says the surveys will help the budget the funds needed to dredge the lakes over the next two years.

Nicki Bellezza, RA’s watershed manager, is responsible for monitoring, managing and maintaining the association’s lakes, ponds, streams and watersheds. Anyone with questions about the surveying process is encouraged to email her.

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Lake Residents Invited to Hang Holiday Lights for Charity

Holiday Lights/Credit: FlickrThe area around Reston’s lakes should start looking especially festive soon.

That’s because it’s time for the 4th annual Festival of Winter Lights, an annual event that encourages residents to light up their lake-facing homes or boats with twinkling holiday lights.

The yearly yuletide event from the Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association (LTEA) helps create dazzling displays and also benefits a number of local charities.

From now until the first week of January, donations will be made to local organizations for every lit-up house, townhome, condo or boat facing one of Reston’s four lakes.

LTEA confirms that $10 per boat or home that hangs lights will be donated to Outward Bound Baltimore, an organization that teaches wilderness and survival skills to teens to help build their self-confidence and self-reliance, as well as $10 to Initiative for Public Art in Reston (IPAR).

In past years, the Festival of Winter Lights has raised as much as $10,000 for area nonprofits.

For more information about the challenge or to donate, email James Pan from LTEA at [email protected].

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Monday’s ‘Simon’ Dedication Canceled Due to Heat

"Simon" Sculpture

The Initiative for Public Art Reston (IPAR), scheduled to formally dedicate this year’s South Lakes High School public art work, “Simon,” has canceled tonight’s unveiling due to the extreme heat. The dedication of the work had been scheduled for 7 p.m. No word on when new ceremony will take place.

This is the third year in a row SLHS students’ — the STEAM team — have merged art and science to turn a concrete slab into a temporary work of art. The sculpture is expected to remain for several months.

The students said they wanted to honor Reston founder Robert Simon, a supporter of public art, who died last year at 101. The students’ mission statement said “Inspired by Robert E. Simon’s Seven Principles of Community, the temporary public artwork shows that beauty, both structural and natural, is a necessity of a good life and should be fostered.”

“The house structure represents how the hospitality of Reston draws people into the community, its warm colors creating an inviting atmosphere, and the curtain and window illustrating Reston’s welcoming nature. Reston is our home, and the house serves as a representation of such.”

The students worked with SLHS art teach Marco Rando on the project for a year, presenting design concepts to the Initiative for Public Art Reston (IPAR) Public Art Committee for recommendation on the design to develop for the spillway, as well as presenting and receiving approval from the Reston Association Design and Review Board (DRB).

The sculpture was first fabricated by students in the school parking lot to formalize the engineering process. It was then deconstructed and given to RA construction staff to reconstruct on the concrete spillway of Lake Thoreau.

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SLHS Students Create New Public Art for Lake Thoreau

Public art is returning to the spillway on Lake Thoreau.

For the third straight year, South Lakes High School art students have created a structure that will decorate the lake for several months. The project has become an annual one after a local resident thought the concrete platform would be an ideal place for artwork, he worked with — and helped fund — the South Lakes students.

The students have incorporated elements of physics and engineering in all three works, thereby taking on the name “the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).

The SLHS STEAM Team’s 2016 sculpture is titled “Simon.” It pays tribute to Reston’s founder, Bob Simon, who died last year at age 101.

From the project’s mission statement:

Inspired by Robert E. Simon’s Seven Principles of Community, Simon shows that beauty, both structural and natural, is a necessity of a good life and should be fostered. The house structure represents how the hospitality of Reston draws people into the community, its warm colors creating an inviting atmosphere, and the curtain + window illustrating Reston’s welcoming nature.

Reston is our home, and the house serves as a representation of such. The pieces radiating out from the center express an organic shape that changes the way the structure is viewed to communicate something that is less industrial and more attune to nature and the form it takes, like roots of a tree.

The gradient emphasizes the diversity of the people within our community, who come from many different walks of life but still intend to be part of one single entity. The white accents draws the eye towards the structure and represents the bright impression of the inside view.

The project installation began Wednesday and will continue Thursday. The sculpture will have special evening lighting that will make it visible in the dark, said SLHS art teacher Marco Rando.

There will be an opening reception/dedication of the project on Monday, July 25.

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Lake Thoreau Resident Has Solutions to Some of Reston’s Boat Issues

A boat without power is a common site on Lake Thoreau/Credit: Erin Cloney

For every group of Reston residents floating around on a summer night on Lake Thoreau, there’s another party that’s stalled, swearing and sometimes, paddling to shore.

That’s why Erin Cloney has started a business to help the unique issues of Reston boat owners. Cloney has discovered, like so many Restonians, that the neighborhood pontoon and deck boats need special care.

Those boats mainly run on batteries and small motors, and those need special attention to work properly, he said. Many boat owners don’t realize until it is too late and they are out of power, said Cloney, who calls himself the company’s “Chief Problem Solver.”

“Everyone out there on the lake has problems,” said Cloney, a seven-year resident of Lake Thoreau. “And every spring, I tow people back.”

That’s how SolvTec LLC was formed. Cloney, an electrical and security engineer by day, has started this side business to keep Reston’s boats in, well, ship-shape.

For $20 ($30 if not on Lake Thoreau), he will come over and investigate your boat problem. He checks the motors, the batteries, even the electrical outlets, where the problem sometimes originates. Prices after that vary with the issue and the solution.

Cloney can also do small decking, lighting and upholstery repairs. He will even come tow you if you get stranded on your boat (and then of course help you fix the motor so it does not happen again). See a full list of services here.

The only thing Cloney can’t do is pull a boat out of the water — but he can call someone who can.

He says Reston’s boats run on standard marine batteries, and many Reston residents don’t “properly care for them” and they wear out quickly.

“The battery industry is kind of a scam,” he said. “The industry does not want them to last long. They want you to turn them in so they can recycle them.”

But most boat owners want to have a beer and float around the lake.

“They want to go out and have their glass of wine and not worry about how to get back,” said Cloney. “

Having a boat issue? Visit SolvTec’s website or call 770-540-7750 or email [email protected].

Photo courtesy Erin Cloney

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