Reston, VA

The Reston Association’s Recreation Facility Work Group has determined that a number of decades-old facilities are in need of work, and a “significant increase” in funding is required for the improvements.

The Reston work group released its findings and recommendations on Wednesday (March 10) after undertaking a year-long, comprehensive evaluation of Reston’s recreational facilities, including pools, lakes, and tennis and pickleball courts. The review focused on the condition, use, and associated costs of the facilities.

The nine-member work group determined that, while past development was “generous” in terms of providing facilities, many are now more than 30 years old and are in need of improvements.

However, funding and the cost of those capital projects may not be “sustainable” without a “significant increase to the annual assessment,” which is $718 for 2021.

According to the findings, the costs of operating and making capital improvements on pools and tennis courts are projected to top $22 million over the next five years and $37 million over the next 10 years, despite pool usage trending downwards and maintenance projects generally staying on track.

The group also focused on lake access and determined that there’s currently a lack of lakeside facilities.

Another major recommendation is that an updated Reston Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan is needed. The most recent plan was established in 2005, more than 15 years ago. Often master plans of this nature are done every decade.

The work group recommends that the Reston Association hire a professional parks and recreation firm to develop the master plan in consultation with RA staff.

The need for a new plan should be a “priority” in future budget considerations, the work group notes.

Photo via Reston Association/Facebook

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A new exhibit is coming to Reston Historic Trust & Museum on Nov. 3.

The museum will showcase limited edited prints created by local artist Sam LaFever through April 2021.

The series, called the Lake Life exhibit, aims to capture the beauty of Reston’s planned lakes and offers explanations on how to use the lakes to relax, fish, boat, and play sports.

Artwork is available for purchase inside the museum.

LaFever began creating and exhibiting art since 1995. His website describes him as an artist, mariner, printmaker, creator of drawings, paintings, intaglio and digital prints.

The museum is located at 1639 Washington Plaza-N. It is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Image via Reston Historic Trust & Museum/Sam LaFever

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In mid-August, a major and possibly toxic algae bloom blanketed Lake Thoreau following Reston Association’s treatment of an invasive plant in the lake.

The treatment, which RA said was one of several factors that caused the bloom, was conducted much later into the season, making the bloom worse.

Following this issue and subsequent community meetings about lake management, RA CEO Hank Lynch wants to more than double its lake maintenance treatment budget for 2021 budget, which is currently under development. This year’s lake maintenance budget is $31,745, up from $17,103 in 2020’s. budget.

The proposed budget would include up to five algae treatments of Lake Thoreau, up to five algae treatments at Lake Anne, and $18,920 to treat lake Thoreau with sonar pelters in the spring or early summer.

The association also plans to shift from treating the lake with contact herbicides to systemic herbicides earlier in the season to control the hydrilla plant.

“This solution will control the hydrilla before it gets to grow and become a problem in the lake,” according to meeting materials.

The systemic herbicide treatment is much more costly than previously used treatment but will produce more long-lasting results, Lynch said at a Board of Directors’ meeting last week.

RA also hopes to remove water lillies at Lake Newport every few years. Its consultant, Aquatic Environment Consultants, will “continue to monitor to determine the right timing of this treatment,” according to meeting materials.

The removal of primrose and alligator weed at Lake Thoreau on the shoreline and along the dams has also been identified as a pending project. The issue will be addressed based on growing conditions this summer.

The lake will also be stocked with 130 carp — which consume aquatics plants — to help manage the overgrowth of certain aquatic plants like hydrilla. The lake was last stocked in 2017 with 80 carp.

RA will hold another community engagement meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6:30 p.m. to discuss Lake Thoreau and lake environmental health. The meeting will take place online.

Photo by Jeannine Santoro

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Thursday Morning Notes

Wiehle-Reston East Station Closing for Three Weekends  Metro’s Silver Line will shut down for three weekends for work to prepare for a likely opening of the Silver Line’s second phase next year. Metro and the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) say the likely dates are November 7-8, November 21-22, and December 5-6.” [WJLA]

Treatment on Two Reston Lakes to Begin Today — “On Sep. 15 Lake Anne and Lake Thoreau were monitored for algae by Aquatic Environment Consultants (AEC). AEC confirmed this morning that they will be proceeding with the regularly scheduled algae treatments for both lakes.” [Reston Association]

Local Firm Boasts ‘Stellar Year’ — “Venture capital firm Proof.VC has been on a roll in 2020. The Reston company’s portfolio has seen 3D-printing startup Desktop Metal and Inc. online gaming platform Skill Inc. both announce their intentions to go public, as well as the earlier IPO of mattress company Casper Sleep Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston Association to Host Second Meeting on Lake Health — In a letter to its members, RA CEO Hank Lynch and Board of Directors President Julie Bitzer said next year’s budget will includ funding for lake treatment. A meeting to followup on lake health and management plans is set for October. [Reston Association]

High Honors for Rotary of Great Falls — “Rotary District 7610 recently named the Rotary of Great Falls as one of its top achievers for 2019-2020. The club was honored in several categories. It received plaudits for several youth projects, including sponsoring two teenagers for Rotary’s Leadership Institute.” [The Connection]

Current State of Pandemic in County — Fairfax Health Director Gloria Addo-Ayensu encourages residents to continue practicing social distancing in order to limit the spread of the pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association will consider including more funding in next year’s budget to preserve the environmental health of Lake Thoreau.

At a meeting with members last night (Monday), RA CEO Hank Lynch said the association has a line-item in the fiscal year 2021 budget to better protect the lake’s environmental health.

A major and potentially toxic algae bloom blanketed Lake Thoreau’s surface last month after RA treated the lake with herbicides to manage Hydrilla, an aquatic plant that had taken over parts of the lake. The treatment occurred in late July — late into the season when treatments are typically avoided in order to prevent further blooms and other issues.

Since then, RA has encouraged residents to avoid contact with the water. The dying hydrilla and algae bloom are expected to continue to dissipate in the coming weeks.

Lynch said there is no “simple formula” to solve all of Lake Thoreau’s environmental health challenges. His staff is working with experts — including Aquatic Environment Consultants — to discuss how to manage algae blooms, erosion, stormwater runoff, and other issues in the future.

“We’ve already go ta line item in the budget if we indeed we need to increase funding to make this doesn’t happen next year,” Lynch said.

RA has routinely worked with AEC to protect its lakes. The consultant’s president Bill Kirkpatrick said that RA had hoped introducing grass carp into the lake would fend off the hydrilla.

“The hope was the carp would be able to get a handle on it,” Kirkpatrick said, adding that his company will reevaluate what happened this year, lay out other options, and make a decision for next year.

RA members urged the association to act more swiftly and proactively in the future to prevent further issues at the lake. Others called on RA to improve its communication with residents, particularly those living near and around Lake Thoreau.

“It should be a top priority,” said Lorri Zell, adding that the lake’s health trumps efforts to bring movies on the lake or pontoon boats.

The full meeting is available online. RA plans to step up community engagement efforts to educate members about its lakes and lake management.

Photo by Jeannine Santoro

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New Reston Association policies for lakes, boats and docks are currently in the works.

William Peterson, the watershed manager for the Reston Association, gave an overview of the proposed changes at last night’s Reston Association meeting (June 27).

Back in May, the board directed staff to review changes to RA’s resolutions and policies regarding enforcement and oversight issues.

Peterson said that the working group is working on making a draft resolution of policies about lake use and access, as well as use and maintenance of boats.

“The [current] resolutions did not have specific definitions for boats, for general access boats, for oversized things, so we’re incorporating [the working group’s] language definitions,” he said.

Peterson also said that the working group was concerned about chemicals in treated wood and has recommendations about wood products acceptable for boats.

Another recommendation would add Lake Keepers — a volunteer program.

“RA staff agrees with the recommendation to have a volunteer Lake Keepers program, however, we suggest that it be educational in nature and it not be enforcement related,” he said. “We don’t want to put any volunteers at risk.”

The finalized draft resolution will go before the Board of Directors in July.

RA’s 50 percent rule, which states that moored boots may take up no more than half of the available lakefront property shoreline, also came up during last night’s meeting.

The Board of Directors discussed in closed session Harbor Point Unit Owner’s Association’s lawsuit challenging the 50 percent rule on the grounds that it was unnecessary and contradicts “Reston’s core values of live, work and play.”

The board voted to direct RA’s chief executive officer to reach a settlement agreement with Harbor Point.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association’s Board of Directors will discuss the implications of changes to the organization’s policies regarding lakes, docks, and boats on Thursday, June 27.

The discussion follows a formal presentation last month by a working group tasked with reviewing RA’s guidelines. At a May 23 meeting, the board directed staff to review changes to RA’s resolutions and policies regarding enforcement and oversight issues.

One of the most contentious topics — RA’s 50 percent rule — will be discussed in closed session at the direction of RA’s legal counsel. The rule states that moored boots may take up no more than half of the available lakefront property shoreline.

Some RA members have disputed a recent push to strictly enforce the rule, which they say has not been implemented in the past.

Changes involving use and maintenance standards as well as common area rules and regulations will be discussed at the board’s operations’ committee on July 8.

Similarly, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will discuss whether or not access points around Reston’s lakes should be added.

The board will also discuss a 2019 reserve study and last year’s audit, according to a draft agenda.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A working group tasked by Reston Association’s Board of Directors to review policies concerning lakes, boats and docks is calling for stricter enforcement of rules and precise language to manage the use of Reston’s lakes.

RA’s lack of consistent enforcement of rules and residents’ lack of knowledge about the association’s governing policies have led to some confusion about the permissibility of uses over the last two years. Reston residents raised several issues about enforcement, outdated policies and environmental impacts two years ago.

After months of discussions and two focus group meetings, the workgroup presented its recommendations to the board on Thursday (May 24). Staff will now analyze the group’s recommendations and return to the board with its assessment of the recommendations in June.

An attempt to increase the maximum percentage of cluster waterfront that can be taken up by moored boats did not gain traction with the workgroup. The contentious issue — which some residents said unreasonably applies rules that RA has not strictly enforced in the past — was left largely undecided. No vote was taken on whether or not to lower or eliminate the boat storage limit, which is currently 50 percent.

The Harbor Point Unit Owner’s Association challenged the 50 percent rule on the grounds that it was unnecessary and contradicts, “Reston’s core values of live, work and play.”

“It is unfair for Reston Association to have adopted the 50 percent rule quite some time ago, not enforce it, and now all of a sudden begin to enforce it,” the association wrote in a statement.

Others said RA needs to step up its efforts to educate Restonians about policies related to boats, docks and lakes. One Harbor Point resident said she did not see any mention of the 50 percent rule in home resale documents when she purchased her condominium unit.

RA may need to turn to volunteer “Lake keepers” to help address monitoring and enforcement issues like permit inspections, boat maintenance and the safe operation of boats. The group suggested RA work with volunteers to patrol lakes, monitor conditions and work with residents to report violations and address problems.

Much of the discussion centered around updating outdated definitions.

The report encourages RA to adopt U.S. Coast Guard definitions for the maximum size of deck boats, as well as restrictions on boat motors that have a forward thrust of 130 pounds or a maximum rating greater than five horse power.

The group also directed RA to clarify the definitions of docks and boats. Residents can take advantage of current definitions, which can be used interchangeably, the group noted.

In the report, the group also asked RA to differentiate between hand-carried boats and permanently moored boats. RA currently does not distinguish between the two categories. The board also recommended a maximum of two boats per lakefront property for mooring seasonally.

In an effort to step up enforcement of violations, the group also recommended that staff board boats if permits are not clearly visible. However, the group removed language that stated RA staff could request proof of residency.

Commercial uses of the last must be approved by RA’s board, including boats rented by RA members to non-members, the group recommended.

The complete report is available online.

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Monday Morning Notes

Fox Mill Road Closed This Week — The road will be closed between Loveless Lane and Throughbred from today at 8 a.m. until Thursday (May 23) at 4 p.m. The closure was rescheduled from last week. [Virginia Department of Transportation]

What Lurks in Reston’s Lakes — Check out what experts found out about the creatures that live in each of Reston’s lakes. A recent survey revealed information about the different types of fish in the area and their general health. [Reston Today]

Conquering Home Improvement Season — In honor of Building Safety Month, county officials offer some tips on how to tackle home improvement projects, including swimming pools, new decks, gas appliances, play houses, and hiring a contractor. [Fairfax County Government]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Lunchtime with the Arts at Mason — Performers from George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts offer free lunchtime concerts in Reston Town Square Park. The first performance kicks off today from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. [Reston Community Center]

Fish Survey Underway in Reston — The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be out and about to conduct a fish survey of Reston’s lakes. The effort is in partnership with Reston Association. [Reston Association]

Reston Has a Problem — In this opinion piece, Michael Freedman-Schnapp argues that the community’s founding vision of inclusion has “begun to slip into the background.” [Greater Greater Washington]

File photo

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Reston Association’s Design Review Board was skeptical about a proposal made during the meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 15) asking for deck boat design standards.

Watershed Specialist William Peterson presented two requests that resulted from the Lakes, Boats and Docks Working Group: addition of floating deck specifications in the DRB guidelines for docks and creation of DRB guidelines for deck boat construction.

Peterson asked the board to make a Reston Association standard for deck boats, which could information about appropriate float materials.

He noted that contractors make many of the deck boats on lakes around Reston, and without a standard, people can build a deck boat any way they want to. Use of inadequate materials can result in them falling apart.

Currently, the resolutions have deck boat guidelines for size, lights and motor size for deck boats, and the “Boat Guide” also has stipulations. “The ‘Boat Guide’ is not a standard. It is not required,” Peterson said.

“We’re talking about staff overload as it is and now we’re talking about a whole new design and review of deck boats?” W. Neal Roseberry, the board’s vice chair and architect member, said. “It doesn’t feel like it belongs in the design guidelines.”

Anna Donato, director of covenants administration, said that it may be possible for DRB to create standards without having to review any noncomplying deck boats. “I don’t think it’s something that would be thrown in the hands of the DRB in terms of governing moving forward.”

Donato and Roseberry both questioned whether or not noncompliance would fall under the Legal Committee instead.

“It feels difficult to have it go both ways — to use the authority of the DRB to set a standard and then to say we’re not going to regulate the standard,” Roseberry said. “I don’t think we should be setting the standard in the first place.”

If deck boats can only get regulated by DRB, Roseberry said he would be open to supporting the idea.

While the board was skeptical about creating a deck boat standard, the members signaled a willingness to update the dock guidelines.

Peterson also showed an example of the DRB dock guidelines, which included a picture of a nonfloating dock, and photos of different ways to permanently attach floating docks. The Lakes, Boats and Docks Working Group has disagreed about what “permanently attached” means.

“Some people think a bungee cord or a rope constitutes permanently attached,” he said. “Others think it needs to be more permanent like a hinged structure.”

Peterson also asked for the removal of a sentence in the guidelines that directs readers to RA’s Park and Recreation Department guidelines, which do not exist.

Clarification of “permanently attached” could include language saying that pilings or a hinge system are sufficient for attachment. Peterson said that he plans to come back to the DRB at a later date with a draft with updated language.

“Improving the guidelines for stationary docks with all of the different ones you showed makes sense,” Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, said to Peterson. “I don’t think that the DRB wants to get into things that move.”

Images via Reston Association/YouTube 

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Nearly nine months after its formation, the Reston Association’s Lakes, Docks and Boats Working Group will move forward with some enforcement actions after stalling them ahead of the group’s final report.

Back in March, RA’s Board of Directors approved the formation of the working group to provide recommendations regarding the association’s policies on lakes, docks and boats on March 22.

The 18-member group examines the number and types of boats and docks currently on the lakes and ponds, identifies any environmental impacts docks and boats have on the lakes and ponds and recommends amendments and enforcement action. It also holds focus groups and public meetings and reviews governing documents.

Will Peterson, the watershed specialist for the Reston Association, updated RA’s Board of Directors last Thursday (Dec. 13) on the group’s progress this year.

Since its inception, the group has:

  • decided not to recommend a change to the maximum boat size
  • created a Reston lakes environment report
  • created a strategic plan for focus groups, which are set to start in January
  • voted to increase the motor size limit from 3 horsepower to 5 horsepower
  • voted to uphold the 50 percent rule for clusters and condo associations that own lakefront property

The 50 percent rule says that moored boats may take up no more than half of the available lakefront property shoreline. Peterson said that one cluster at Harbor Point by South Lakes Village Shopping Center was found in violation.

Currently, recommendations about boat and dock sealant methods of application are under consideration, along with clarifications surrounding whether or not owners can have two permanently moored boats.

The working group did not meet the November deadline to recommend a plan to the board for possible amendments and is now aiming to have a finalized report with recommendations ready for the board by the spring.

Until the presentation of the final report, the board decided to stay enforcement of boat violations — excluding poor boat conditions and nonpayment of the annual boat fee, which the board approved.

Peterson said that 12 people still have not paid the fee, including one person who has not paid for two years. “Since the implementation, we put a cease to doing any violations, but we still have boats in poor conditions,” he said, adding that poor boat conditions create safety concerns.

Photos via Reston Association/YouTube

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If Reston’s lakes have seemed a little low to you lately, don’t worry, you’re not crazy.

The Reston Association is running its annual dive inspections on all the dam spillways across each of the local lakes. The water level of the lake has been lowered by two inches today and yesterday to accommodate the inspections.

According to Nicki Bellezza, watershed manager for the Reston Association, the association contracts with firms to provide dive inspections every year to examine the concrete risers and spillways to make sure everything is functioning properly.

“During one inspection we noticed a small leak that we were able to repair at Lake Thoreau last year,” said Bellezza.

Restons lakes are not natural, but are artificial reservoirs built in the latter half of the 20th century to support the increased water runoff from new developments.

“The lake spillways allow water to tumble over into a large pipe, similar to a bathtub drain,” said Bellezza. “The structures also have gates that, when opened, allow us to lower the water level in the lake. We do not normally operate the gates unless we need to do inspections or for routine maintenance.”

The main challenge facing the lakes today, according to Bellezza, is corrosion of the spillways due to the age of the infrastructure. Bellezza said the Reston Association will review the results of the dive inspections and make decisions moving forward about future improvements to the lake infrastructure.

Photo via Twitter

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