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
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
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
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.
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
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).
A 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
(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.
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.
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
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.
Senior Capital Projects Operations Manager Chris Schumaker highlighted some of the “key” projects slated for 2019 in a Reston Association video.
Originally developed in 1965, the Hook Road Recreation Area will see architectural and engineering changes. The area, which has remained largely unchanged since tennis and baseball amenities were added in 1973, was identified for major revitalization in 2016 after a review of facility enhancements approved by RA’s Board of Directors.
Bathroom renovations are slated for Lake Newport Pool (11601 Lake Newport Road).
A dredging project will begin for Lake Audubon. Residents were warned in September to avoid the lake after a harmful algae bloom was spotted. The bloom, called Microcystis, can produce toxins that are lethal for livestock, fish, and people. Some toxins have been linked to liver cancer.
Nestled in the woods, the Walker Nature Education Center will receive accessibility improvements.
A little more than half of Reston’s capital projects were finished this year, Schumaker told RA’s board at a meeting last Thursday (Dec. 13).
Finished ones included renovating the Pony Barn, located at the corner of Steeplechase Drive and Triple Crown Road, to include an ADA-accessible parking lot, bathroom and pathway, along with adding concrete flooring to the pavilion and grill station. The project also included a new drainage system and playground.
The Central Services Facility at 12250 Sunset Hills Road had a “major transformation” with new energy efficient windows, a new HVAC and bathroom facilities and improvements for accessibility and security. The building had not been updated since it was built in 1982, Schumaker said.
Dredging was completed for Lake Thoreau this year. “Removing the sediment helps improve the overall health of the lake for many years to come,” Schumaker said.
Some of this year’s projects nearing completion include new flooring, paint, fixtures and lighting in the Glade Room at 11550 Glade Drive and tree removal along the dam at Butler Pond at 1145 Water Pointe Lane.
Photos via Reston Association/YouTube
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
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
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
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
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