Reston, VA

Labor Day is almost here — and the end of pool season.

While swimming in the pool or lounging nearby are popular summer activities, the coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on swimsuit season, unless you have a private pool or know someone who does.

Fairfax County didn’t allow public indoor and outdoor swimming pools to reopen until mid-June only for lap swimming, diving, exercise and instruction.

Then when Phase 3 guidelines went into effect on July 1, public pools could allow up to 75% occupancy with 10 feet of physical distance between users who are not from the same household. Public hot tubs, spas, saunas and spray pools are still closed though.

“This guidance applies to all community pools, including those operated by apartment and condominium complexes, recreation centers, homeowner’s associations and swim clubs,” according to Fairfax County’s website.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they don’t have evidence that the novel coronavirus can be spread in the water.

“Plus, proper operation of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds (such as at an apartment complex or owned by a community) and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus,” according to the CDC.

When we asked readers in June how they felt about using public pools, roughly 40% said they wouldn’t because of COVID-19 concerns, while 36% said they would.

With Labor Day soon marking the unofficial end to summer, we want to know if you have been to the pool. Let us know in the poll below and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by Toni Cuenca/Unsplash

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Herndon Community Center plans to expand its operating hours beginning next week.

The center, which was closed for months due to COVID-19, opened on August 20 to the public. Starting Tuesday (Sept. 8), the center will be open on from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. The center will remain closed over the weekend.

Currently, the pool is opening for lap swimming and water walking, while the fitness area is limited to a maximum of 10 people for a one-hour timeslot. Reservations are required.

Locker rooms, the spa, the sauna, racquetball courts, and drop-in fitness classes are not available due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s more from the center on the limited number of fall classes being offered at the center:

A limited number of fall classes will be offered starting in mid-September. We are exercising precautions to ensure the health and safety of all students by following the CDC and industry guidelines related to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Outdoor Tennis Lessons and new Family Tennis lessons are being offered in Bready Park. Small Group Fitness classes will be held indoors and outdoors in Bready Park, new sessions start each month. Visit herndonwebtrac.com to learn more and to register. To learn more about the Town of Herndon Parks and Recreation Department, please visit us at herndon-va.gov/recreation, or call 703-787-7300.

Image via Google Maps

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The dog days of summer deserve a day just for the dogs before the pool season ends.

Reston Association is hosting a dog paddle next weekend. Residents can bring their dog for a dip in the pool at North Hills on Saturday, August 29 and at Dogwood on Sunday, August 30. Both events take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Access to the pool is reserved on a 45-minute visit that begins at the top of each hour. Although people are not allowing in the water with the dogs, four people can accompany each dog to the facility. Dogs must remain under control at all times or will be asked to leave without a refund. Female dogs in heat are not allowed.

Face masks — for humans only — are required at all times. The fee is $10 per dog for RA members and $15 for all others.

Registration is open via RA’s Webtrac system. Pre-registration is required and the event will be cancelled in the event of rain.

Active dog licenses are required before entering the facility. RA reserved the right to density admission to any patron or dog owner.

Photo courtesy Sammy Monaghan for RA

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Report on Oral Health in Virginia — “Gaps in oral health access and utilization between lower-income and higher-income Northern Virginians are as profound as they were a decade ago, report cites.” [Northern Virginia Health Foundation]

Cornerstones to Host Forum on Economic Stability — The Reston-based nonprofit organization is hosting a forum with elected officials on economic recovery in Northern Virginia after the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum takes place online tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. [Cornerstones]

Coronavirus Collides with Cardboard Boat Regatta — “Reston Historic Trust & Museum canceled its fourth annual Cardboard Boat Regatta due to the coronavirus pandemic. In its place the organization presents the 2020 Cardboard Challenge during the entire month of August.” [The Connection]

Reston Association Announces More Pool Openings — Season four, which runs from August 24 through September 7, will feature the pools at Glade, Golf Course Island, Lake Newport and Ridge Heights. The pools at Lake Newport and Ridge Heights will be open for season five from September 8-20. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Kimley-Horn, a planning and design consultant, has pitched two proposals for Lake Thoreau pool, a Reston Association amenity closed pending major improvements on the aging site.

The pool, which opened in 1981, is deteriorating. Previous structural engineering reports have flagged structural problems with the pool, including a sagging retaining wall and cracks in the pool shell and concrete deck.

Following community engagement sessions, Kimley-Horn pitched two concept plans for the renovation project. The first concept is similar to the current layout and design, but would incorporate features requested by residents at a Feb. 11 community meeting. Those priorities include: a hot tub or spa, lap lanes, zero-depth entry, outward views, shade and tree retention, and lake access.

The second concept plan would involve a complete redesign and creates less shade and tree retention.

Jeffrey Holzer, a landscape architect analyst with Kimley-Horn, said the company was amenable to pursuing a “simple and practical” design. Reston Association released an informational video about the project ahead of a community meeting next month.

The consultant is also exploring artistic opportunities like a pool mural, a pool floor mosaic, sculptural art along the building, deck or wall, or a sculptural water fountain.

Feedback and questions are due by August 7 to [email protected].

A final conceptual design, which would incorporate community feedback, will be created by August 25. Meetings with RA’s Board of Directors and Design Review Board are expected to continue between September and October.

A virtual community meeting is planned for August 25 at 6:30 p.m.

Image via Kimley-Horn

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Monday Morning Notes

Heat Advisory in Effect — Hot temperatures and high humidity are expected from noon to 8 p.m. today (Monday). Forecasters encourage residents to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, and stay out of the sun. [National Weather Service]

Input Sought on Route 28 Improvements — “The Virginia Department of Transportation wants the public’s input for a study on improving the Route 28 corridor. The goal is to ease congestion and improve safety around the Dulles Greenway interchange. VDOT has created a survey people can take online until Aug. 3.” [VDOT]

RA Offers Discounts for Recreation Passes, Rebates — “The Reston Association Board of Directors voted to discount the purchase price of member recreation passes by 50 percent starting July 15. The board also decided to offer 50 percent retroactive rebates to members and non-members who have already paid the full price for their 2020 passes. The decisions came during a special virtual meeting of the board on July 13.” [Reston Association]

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Reston Association is considering opening more pools to the public as four pools begin some operations today (Monday).

If state health orders and funding allow, the association may open at least two more facilities by September.

But pools at Lake Audubon, Shadowood, and Uplands will remain closed this year– in addition to pre-planned closures at Lake Thoreau and North Shore due to ongoing construction projects.

“We will open as many pools as we possibly can, when can we can, based on the rules and resources we have,” said RA CEO Hank Lynch at a meeting late last week.

Lake Audubon and Shadowood will remain closed. Plans to replace the plaster last year were delayed “during budget development with hopes of it lasting until 2021,” according to a staff presentation. Loss of revenue from member fees due to COVID-19 also complicated funding efforts.

Uplands pool will also remain closed due to delayed work on a roof project. Delays with RA’s Design Review Board were also caused by the pandemic.

Members and nonmembers can purchase pass options at half price beginning July. Recreation passes, which include tennis, pickleball and pools, have brought in roughly $117,00 in revenue between this year. Full refunds are also available to those who request them.

At the meeting, Laura Kowalski, RA’s director of recreation and environmental resources, stressed that decisions about pools and other facilities are fluid due to changing recommendations from health officials and the state.

Currently, pools at Glade, Golf Course Island, Lake Newport, and Newbridge are opening for lap swimming and fitness classes only. Other pools may open in the coming weeks. Spas, hot tubs, and water park features are closed due to state orders.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Reston Association’s Board of Directors will meet today (Thursday) to discuss a concept plan for the Hunters Woods Ballfield and plans to reopen pools for this year’s season.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Design consultant Kimley-Horn created several concept images to repurpose the Hunters Woods ballfield, which is located behind Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. Design sketches show the space would largely be maintained as open space, with the addition of trees and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

The Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition is encouraging RA to repurpose the ball field, which is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League. So far, a pathway lighting project north of the Hunters Woods Village Center is under consideration, with roughly 16 light poles at a cost of $100,000.

The board could approve a concept plan, which would then be considered by RA’s Design Review Board and county planners. More details are expected at the meeting.

RA will also discuss plans to open more pools. So far, only four pools will reopen on June 29, with several restrictions in place. The full agenda is available online.

File photo

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(Updated to reflect a revision by Reston Association about admittance rules for children under eight and guests of passholders)

Reston Association will open four of its 15 pools on June 29, according to a new release.

Pools will be open daily for members and non-members with a recreational pass for the year. Currently, the facilities will only be available for lap swimmers and water walkers who reserve time and for instructional programs.

State Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order does not allow recreational or open swimming.

RA staff selected the pools at Lake Newport, Newbridge, Glade and Golf Course Island for reopening this month. The facilities were selected in order to “maximize lap swimming and fitness programming,” according to the release. Pools will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Here’s more from RA on how to reserve lap swim time:

Pass-holders will be able to reserve lap swim time on SignUpGenius.com or by phone. We anticipate having links to SignUpGenius reservation pages available by June 22. Online registration for water fitness programs or purchases of season-long fitness passes can be done through our standard WebTrac site. More information will be provided in the coming days via emails to pass-holders and through other RA communications channels about how to sign up. The notices will include other important details regarding pool safety and operational procedures.

In preparation for the openings, RA is implementing cleaning procedures and training aquatics staff on how to abide by safety rules set in place by the county and the state.

RA CEO Hank Lynch thanked members for their patience and noted that the association had to wait for state officials to provide guidance on opening aquatics facilities.

“We understand how important the pools are to our membership,” said Lynch. “Our staff has worked around the clock towards the goal of opening as many pools as we could in a way that is in compliance with government mandates. We encourage our members to take advantage of all outdoor exercise opportunities as we collectively adjust to new norms during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Image via Reston Association/YouTube

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Pools operated by Reston Association will not open in May, as originally scheduled, due to the current stay-at-home order issued by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

In a statement released yesterday (Wednesday), RA said aquatics, programs, events and other pool-related activities “will not be rescheduled at his time.” The association expects to have more information on the situation around June 10.

For now, the association is assuming that pools will reopen sometime this summer. Pre-season maintenance projects are underway.

But RA cautioned that it may take three weeks or more to reopen its facilities from the time restrictions on gatherings and social distancing are lifted.

Supply chains we rely on for chemicals and pool equipment may be interrupted. In addition, proper training, orientations for staff and other safety measures will need to be in place before any of our pools can resume operations,” RA said.

RA did not immediately respond to a request from Reston Now on how the delayed openings will impact pool passes.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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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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