Reston, VA

Reston Association recently kicked off a comprehensive evaluation of its recreational facilities. The organization is seeking members for a new recreational facilities working group that will evaluate the current inventory, condition and usage of RA facilities.

Members who are interested in applying should do so by March 31. Interviews will be conducted by the Board Operations Committee on May 4 at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The application is available online.

The workgroup is tasked with the following:

  • Evaluate the number, condition and use of facilities like pools, tennis, ballfields, playgrounds and pavilions
  • Review the long-term operational, maintenance and capital costs for RA facilities
  • Evaluate usage trends for RA facilities using existing data
  • Recommend to the board a process for closing or converting existing facilities to other uses.

The Park & Recreation Advisory Committee is temporarily suspended until Feb. 2021 as the new workgroup begins the analysis.

Photo courtesy Reston Association

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Lake Thoreau pool won’t be the only pool that’s closed for the 2020 season.

In an email to members, Reston Association announced that North Shore Pool will be closed as well due to planned construction and maintenance projects at and around the facility.

Renovation of the dock at Lake Anne Plaza is set to begin this month. The lake canal and plaza area will also be dredged, according to Reston Association.

The following improvements are planned over the spring and summer:

  • Concrete deck repairs
  • Re-plaster of main pool
  • Replacement of tile and coping stone
  • Replacement/upgrade of facility fencing – including installation of railings for the main deck staircase
  • Replacement of deck equipment (access chair, lifeguard stands, ladders, railings)
  • Replacement of the shade structure
  • Replacement of the flooring surface in the bathhouse
  • Replacement of cabinets, countertops in the office and bathrooms

RA says that its 13 other pools with remain open with adjusted schedules in order to accommodate members who use the pools at Lake Thoreau or North Shore. Anyone with questions should contact [email protected] for more information.

Lake Thoreau Pool — which was originally built in the 80s — is also set to get a facelift.

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After more than three years of planning and one year of construction, the newly renovated aquatics facility at Reston Community Center is now open to the community.

The Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center — which features a 25-yard lap pool, a teaching and exercise pool, and a new roof and systems for water filtration and air — opened today (Monday). The outdated facility was constructed in 1979.

RCC worked with mosaic artist Valerie Theberge, Hughes Architects, Branch Builds and county to complete the project. Construction delays and other setbacks pushed the opening date from last year to early 2020.

The facility also includes better stormwater management features and updates to locker rooms.

“This ambitious project reflects the broad input and engagement with our swimmers that we sought from the beginning of our work,” wrote RCC Board of Governors Chair Beverly Cosham in a statement. “All the features address needs they described for us; the professionals worked to incorporate as many of the community’s ideas as possible.”

To celebrate the pool’s opening, RCC is offering a $1 drop-in access rate per visit throughout February. Classes and exercise programs begin one week from today on Feb. 3.

Here’s more from RCC on the project:

During the closure, RCC partnered with the Fairfax County YMCA Reston, Herndon Community Center and Reston Association to offer special aquatics discounts for RCC patrons during the renovation period.

“We are very happy to reopen,” said Leila Gordon, RCC’s executive director. “This project came in under budget and with excellent results. It took a little longer than we anticipated due to labor shortages in the construction industry that hit the aquatics specialization areas very hard. Nonetheless, the entire team worked extremely hard to get us open without sacrificing high quality standards. There will be a necessary period of completing punch list issues and establishing all our new routines, but we are thrilled to have the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center filled again with swimmers of all ages.”

The pool closed on Jan. 1 last year to jumpstart the renovation effort.

Photos via RCC

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Thursday Morning Notes

Metro Ridership Increases — “Metrorail’s ridership growth trend can now be expressed in years, with the system posting a four-percent increase in passenger trips for the 2019 calendar year, ending a downward trend that lasted most of the prior decade. Total rail ridership was 182 million trips, compared to 175 million in 2018, a net increase of seven million trips, reflecting increasing customer confidence in Metro’s reliability and on-time performance.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Reston Indivisibles Join Protest at U.S. Senate — “Eleven members of Herndon-Reston Indivisible join other resisters in peaceful protest at the U.S. Senate to press for trial and removal of President Trump.” [The Connection]

Reston Association Pool and Tennis Passes For Sale — Passes for unlimited access to pools and tennis courts during the 2020 season are available for purchase online. [Reston Association]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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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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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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Several Reston Association pools were closed over the weekend due to vandalism.

Vandals hit pools including Newbridge, Dogwood, Ridge Heights, Shadowood and Lake Thoreau, said RA spokesman Mike Leone. No major physical damage was reported.

The most significant vandalism happened at Glade Pool. RA staff worked to remove feces found in the pool over the weekend, Leone said.

The pool was closed an additional day to ensure the water was free of contaminants, per the county’s health guidelines.

The closure of the pool today comes as RA switches to season four of its pool schedule. It is expected to reopen tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11 a.m.

Leone described the vandalism at other pools as “minor.” Staff quickly worked to remove items that were thrown into the pools, which resumed regular operations on Sunday.

File photo

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Recent pool-goers at the Pinecrest Swim and Tennis Club in Herndon might have noticed firefighters wearing their gear and uniforms for training in the water.

Units from the First Battalion on B-Shift completed various activities for self-survival and victim water rescue training, according to a Fairfax County Fire and Rescue post.

“All personnel swam two laps of the pool giving unit officers the ability to evaluate the swimming skills of each member,” according to the post. “This is valuable information to have ahead of being called to a water-related emergency as the officer now knows who their strong swimmers are and who to place in the water for victim rescue.”

More from the fire department:

Personnel then participated in backboard training with the lifeguard staff from the pool. They learned the actions lifeguards take to secure a victim to a backboard when they are suspected of a spinal injury from a pool mishap.

Finally, personnel donned structural firefighting gear and walked off the pool’s edge into the water to feel the impact of falling into [the] water while wearing the protective clothing.

Firefighters conduct a variety of tasks inside and outside a structure while operating at a house fire and many of the residences have swimming pools. A firefighter falling into the water with gear on poses a significant safety concern due to the added weight as the gear tends to pull firefighters under the water. The training today was conducted to provide firefighters with techniques on how to react and exit a pool should they face this situation while operating on an incident scene.

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescuefire

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The state fined Reston Association $12,000 for violating child labor laws late last year.

The state’s Department of Labor and Industry issued fines in October 2018 after an investigation found “numerous violations” regarding minors employed as aquatics attendants or lifeguards, according to an August 2018 inspection report obtained by Reston Now.

Child labor law violations included minors working more than eight hours a day and more than 40 hours a week. The investigation also found that some minors were working without any indicated breaks, employment certificates or lifeguard certificates.

The most common violation cited in the investigation was allowing minors to work more than eight hours a day. Virginia’s child labor laws allow minors between ages 14 and 15 to work a maximum of eight hours per day on a non-school day. Work hours depend on school schedules and the type of occupation.

Mike Leone, RA’s spokesperson, declined to release any information about the citation, including whether or not it was disputed by RA or how RA is working to ensure issues flagged by the investigation do not occur again.

“As previously communicated, RA does not comment publicly on personnel-related matters,” Leone wrote in an email. Additionally, RA’s policy states that only RA’s board president, CEO and spokesperson are authorized to speak to media.

Sources told Reston Now that the investigation was discussed in closed session during a Board of Directors meeting at a date that was not identified.

In recent years, RA has struggled to staff pools due to a shortage of lifeguards — an issue that is part of an industry-wide shortage of lifeguards.

Due to the lack of qualified candidates, some aquatics facilities were changing hours or closing facilities as they step up efforts to hire for seasonal positions.

Staff shortages when schools were in session prompted the closures of several pools operated by RA. Leone told Reston Now the shortages were resolved on June 23 when 14 of the 15 pools operated by RA were open. New applicants were on-boarded and completed training courses, and more employees were available due to the end of the school year, Leone said.

A source familiar with the state’s labor law investigation and on-boarding of lifeguards, however, said that part of the reason for delays in opening the pools was because lifeguards did not have required safety certifications to begin working — an issue that was spotted by administrative staff “far too late” once pools were already scheduled to open. Certifications were expired or still in the process of being received, the source said.

Others chose not to return due to alleged mismanagement of aquatics facilities.

“Some people felt they were overworked and thrown into the job without on-boarding,” a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal, said.

Leone said that some staff members were unable to begin working or register for courses due to personal schedules and commitments until the end of the school year. Once courses were completed, the shortage was alleviated.

“In light of our short window of operation (four months [from] May-Sept.) and onboarding process, we do conduct some interviews prior to applicants’ completion of lifeguard training classes for efficiency to avoid delays, an offer is contingent upon completion of the certification course and skill assessment,” Leone wrote.

As the number of lifeguard applicants has declined over the last five years, RA moved to change staffing structures by hiring desk attendants and pool operators to serve as stand-alone positions from lifeguards.

In the future, RA plans to address staff shortages at pools by exploring increases in hourly rates for lifeguards, changes to the pool schedules during peak hours and other recruitment and retention efforts.

Photo by vantagehill/Flickr

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The nine-month renovation of the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center is gearing up for its final stages. It will likely reopen in early November.

The 40-year-old center is receiving a makeover that adds two pools — a 25-yard lap pool and a warm-water therapeutic pool — along with a new roof.

In June, work on the new roof continues and the two pools are beginning to take shape. Work on plumbing and changes to designed mechanical systems has also been underway.

The deepest part of therapy pool is 750 square feet and is designed for 15 people for aqua aerobics and other exercise. The shallow side of the pool has about 900 square feet of usable area for aquatic programming. Because the overall area is not a rectangle, a class of 20 people can be accommodated.

RCC staff are planning to develop a schedule to reopen pools. Project completion is scheduled for October and pool reopening is scheduled for early November. The center is also looking to hire lifeguards and instructors.

Photos via Reston Community Center

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Several of Reston Association’s 15 pools will be closed for the second weekend in a row due to a shortage of lifeguards. The association is working actively to hire more lifeguards and closed some pools this weekend due to safety precautions.

After closures over Memorial Day weekend, all aquatics facilities except Lake Thoreau pool, were open as scheduled during the weekdays. Lake Thoreau’s pool opened Thursday evening after shattered glass was found inside the pool over the weekend. RA believes the pool was vandalized.

The following pools will be closed tomorrow (June 1):

  • Autumnwood
  • Golf Course Island
  • Lake Audubon
  • Newbridge
  • Shadowood

The following pools will be closed on Sunday (June 2):

  • Dogwood
  • Golf Course Island
  • Shadowood
  • Tall Oaks

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 wrote.

RA will host one or two job fairs to hire staff for its pools, typically high school and college students. The organization adjusts its seasonal pool schedule to coincide with the availability of students who are off from school. Interested applicants can apply online.

Photo by Leslie Sogandares

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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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Lifeguard Shortage Prompts Pool Schedule Change — RA changed the schedule of its pools over the weekend due to an unexpected shortage of lifeguards. The organization is actively hiring lifeguards for this year’s season. A job fair is set for Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at a local pool. [Reston Association]

The Washington Post Releases Endorsements for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors — The paper endorsed Walter Alcorn for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, calling him a “formidable land-use expert.” [The Washington Post]

INOVA Blood Drive is Today — Stop by the bloodmobile truck next to the pavilion at Reston Town Center to date blood between 1 and 6 p.m. today. Registration is available online and on site. [Reston Town Center]

Explore Reston Association’s Home Inspection Process — Dive into the exterior inspection process that is required by RA before selling your home. [Reston Today]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Restonians returning the Reston Association’s pools will see several upgrades this season, especially at the Lake Newport Pool (11601 Lake Newport Road).

That pool, which opens May 25, closed last summer for several improvements, including a new pool plaster surface, new pool tiles, and new sinks, countertops and flooring tiles in the bathhouse. Plumbing was also redone for the bathhouse system, according to Nate Wheeler, RA’s aquatics facility supervisor.

A new 50-meter lane was also added to the pool, which will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on weekends and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. The pool is closed on Fridays.

Wheeler said that this year has been a “big year” for spas as well. New plaster surface was installed at the spas at Glade, North Hills, and Hunters Woods. The spa at North Shore was rebuilt to address an underground leak.

The circulation equipment for the fountain at Uplands was replaced as well, Wheeler said.

“We’re looking forward to having people enjoy the bright colors and smoother operations all summer,” he said.

Pool passes can be renewed online. This year’s pool schedule is also available on RA’s website. The aquatics facilities at North Shore and Ridge Heights are the first to open this season on May 11.

Photo by Reston Association/YouTube

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