Discussion got heated Thursday night at Reston Association Headquarters during talk about a potential future project at Hook Road Recreation Area.
The park was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated last year. The idea is to take a facility that has pieces of replacement work in the plans in the capital reserve study and, instead, doing comprehensive work to upgrade the facility all at once.
The Hook Road park was chosen by PRAC as a “pilot” project for the full-facility enhancement plan, said RA capital improvements director Garrett Skinner, because it has a number of amenities all in one place and hasn’t been substantially upgraded for more than 40 years.
“For the capital department, this is also a great pilot to really use and demonstrate all of the new policies and procedures we’re putting into place for project management, for communications, for engagement with not only these departments within the Association, but all of the committees and work groups as well,” he said.
Director Ray Wedell, who said he lived near the park for seven years, took exception to the plan to upgrade the facility. During an animated speech, he said it is “an excellent field as it sits” and “what Reston should represent.”
“For the life of me, I have no idea what you people are going to propose to change it,” he said. “[People who live near the park] are quite content with how it is right now.”
The plan as proposed by staff was to advertise a public information session for next month to determine what the community would like to see changed at the park. Concerns about parking and restroom facilities are among those floated in the plan. CEO Cate Fulkerson and Skinner, though, said the community would have the final say through its input on what — if anything — would be done.
“The capital department isn’t going into this project suggesting any solutions, any removal of anything or the addition of anything,” Skinner said. “The question will be up to the community: ‘Do you want anything at all and, if so, what?’ We can [then] determine going forward what that could look like.”
Hook Road Recreation Area has about $122,000 in as-is maintenance expenditures scheduled through 2020, Fulkerson said.
“We can stop [this proposal] now, it’s entirely up to you,” she said. “But according to the reserve study, I’m supposed to be doing stuff at this facility between 2016 and 2020.”
The Reston Association Board of Directors at their regular meeting Thursday will hear a presentation regarding a potential project at the Hook Road Recreation Area.
The recreation area, which features a baseball field along with tennis and basketball facilities, is located off Fairway Drive, just north of Hidden Creek Golf Course. According to information provided in the agenda for the meeting, it has remained relatively unchanged since 1973.
The Hook Road park was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated last year. “Full-facility enhancement” is part of the new capital project methodology that was adopted by the RA board in 2016, according to the information provided.
“This methodology focuses on the revitalization of facilities as a singular unit instead of the periodic replacement of individual components of the site. The former methodology looked at facilities on an amenity-by-amenity basis spread out over several years. The thrust of the Full Facility approach is to improve RA facilities in a comprehensive and holistic manner to create a greater visual impact and maximize value for the membership.”
In December, the Board of Directors allocated $50,000 to fund the initial design concept of the enhancement of the Hook Road Recreation Area. According to information provided, the project’s scope would be to do the following:
- Enhance the use of Hook Road Recreation Area through facility renovations and improvements including but not limited to parking solutions, restroom facility additions and evaluation of existing amenities
- Improve landscaping and hardscaping
- Increase ADA accessibility
The board materials for Thursday’s meeting also indicate that an improved effort to engage members in the process will be undertaken.
“It is important that the Board and staff take into account lessons learned from recent events. A popular criticism the Board received from members regarding the Lake Newport Soccer Proposal was the lack of notice and failure to engage the residents directly adjacent to the site early in the process. Accordingly, during its meeting on February 23, 2017, the Board directed staff to develop an improved member notification process to gather community input when considering major recreation amenity proposals.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the board will consider holding a public information session on the Hook Road project April 26, with notice of the meeting to be sent out March 30. A call will be put out for volunteers to serve on a working group of RA members, first focusing on neighborhood representation, to receive input on facility and site improvements.
The tentative timeline for the project sees it coming before the board for budget approval in October.
Other items on the agenda for the meeting include:
- the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee’s 2017 work plan
- pedestrian lighting recommendations from the Environmental Advisory Committee
- the revised Code of Ethics project plan and proposed amendments to the CEO performance appraisal process
- proposed amendments to the Pool & Tennis Use/Access Policy
The meeting will be held Thursday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). It will also be streamed live on RA’s YouTube channel.
Map via Google Maps
“Great Parks, Great Communities” is the clichéd theme of the Fairfax County Park Authority. And the theme may be true, but the Park Authority is promising — a promise it may well not fulfill — Tysons and Reston urban areas among the most poorly parked-served areas among the top cities in the country.
It raises the question, will poor parks mean poor communities?
As Reston Now suggests in its April 29 article, county park availability standards for the newly urbanizing areas of the Dulles Corridor are less than half of the county-wide “suburban” standard — and the Park Authority plans to put fewer parks in Reston’s station areas than in Tysons because we have parks and facilities elsewhere.
Here’s where we are in the arithmetic of public parks. The county standards described in Tysons’ and Reston’s plans shoot for providing about 1.7 acres of park per 1,000 residents. That’s about 154 acres of parks in Tysons and 95 acres in Reston — if fulfilled.
Now let’s see how that stacks up. A national non-profit, the Trust for Public Lands, tracks park availability annually for the 100 largest cities in the country. When Fairfax County’s urban park standard is included in the ranking of acreage per 1,000 residents, both Tysons and Reston rank in the bottom 5 percent of all the cities.
If Tysons and Reston achieve the county urban goal, they would bracket New York City’s Manhattan Borough near the bottom of the list. Yet Manhattan has two and one-half times the density planned for Tysons and more than three times the density planned for Reston.
Moreover, despite having some of the most expensive real estate in the country, Manhattan has been able to set aside 18.3 percent of its land for parks. That’s more than 10 times the share planned for Tysons (1.4 percent) and more than three times the goal for Reston (5.6 percent).
And the county has no intent to meet its own standard for Reston because, as the Reston Comprehensive Plan says, “Need generated in the TSAs should primarily be met through the integration of urban parks, recreation, and cultural facilities within the mixed use developments of the TSAs. To supplement these parks and facilities, elements of the larger Reston area’s robust park and recreation system (outside of the TSAs) may be able to be improved to help meet the needs of future residents and employees.”