Reston, VA

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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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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