Reston, VA

Reston Association’s Board of Directors has unanimously directed the organization’s staff to provide a comprehensive report on security incidents that caused losses of data, money or website capacity in the last two years.

At a board meeting last Thursday, board member Sarah Selvaraj-Dsouza proposed the motion in an effort to provide its membership with transparent information about possible issues

The move comes as some board members advocate for the immediate and swift creation of an IT committee that would guide RA on its security posture and provide recommendations on how to protect membership data, privacy and financial information.

Board members contend that RA’s security posture and IT platforms are incapable of maintaining industr-wide accepted standards of privacy and data security.

At last week’s meeting, board member Ven Iyer, a professional in the field of IT security, has voiced what he described as grave concerns related to RA’s lack of security.

Speaking as an RA member and not as a board member, Iyer says that RA CEO Hank Lynch’s email ID was breached, resulting in a loss of $187,000.

He also stated that RA’s website failed in the summer of 2020 when a system hosting the RA website, a decryption algorithm, and membership privacy and financial data was compromised. At the time, RA staff stated the abrupt shift was prompted because the website’s platform was “extremely outdated and unsupported.”

He also contended that RA’s communications to members — including recent press releases — mislead members into thinking that the shift to the cloud and a new website has resolved any pending concerns.

“That is simply not true. RA’s press releases falsely mislead members to believe that security incidents have occurred due to outdated technology or will not occur against because RA has shifted to cloud platforms,” he said.

Iyer wants the board to swiftly create the IT committee in order to “immediately respond at a SWAT team pace.”

A special meeting on the issue is planned, following a review of the proposal by RA’s board governance committee.

RA spokesman Mike Leone told Reston Now that because the board has not taken an official position on IT-related issues, the association cannot directly address Iyer’s concerns or questions about specific security issues.

The board is expected to review a report on IT breaches and other related issues on March 18.

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Reston Association (RA) is looking at potentially going a bit greener.

The RA Board of Directors unanimously approved a pair of motions brought to it during its Feb. 25 meeting by Director Tom Mulkerin that are focused on electric vehicles and subsequent charging stations.

The first motion directs RA staff to use the next 120 days to study the feasibility of replacing the association’s current fleet of fossil-fueled vehicles over the next 10 years. The staff is also directed to study the potential installation of a Level 3 charging station at the Central Services Facility to recharge its electric fleet.

RA staff is charged with addressing four primary questions with its study. The first portion of the stud will look at the comparative costs of acquisition, operation, maintenance and repair of electric vehicles versus the current fleet that uses fossil fuels.

The second part is an evaluation of the estimated financial and operational impact on the Central Service Facility and finding a conversion timeline for the fleet. It also includes diagnosing the skills and equipment required for the maintenance of both the electric vehicles and existing fleet.

The third item is finding the expected cost of the installation, operation, maintenance and repair of charging stations and a projected useful lifespan compared to the cost of fueling the existing fleet.

The board also directed staff to study the possibility of installing electric vehicle charging stations at one or more RA facilities over the next three months.

The scope of the second study includes reviewing the specific charging station types for recommendation, the expected volume of use, the anticipated costs to users of the stations and the general installation, operation, maintenance and repair costs of stations.

Staff will also examine if the stations would be compatible with RA sites.

Finally, the study would examine if the overall costs of the program would generate a meaningful profit and when that profit would materialize.

“I think we should look at the opportunity just to say, ‘Is it worthwhile?,'” Mulkerin said. “Then if it’s not, we can say to our membership, ‘We looked at it. It wasn’t worth it to do it,’ or agree.”

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Residents Can Remove Themselves from County Waitlist — The county has launched a new online tool that allows residents to remove themselves from the county’s vaccine registration waitlist. [Fairfax County Government]

Herndon Police Investigate Series of Car Robberies — In the last week of February, the Herndon Police Department received reports of 15 vehicles being entered illegally. In these cases, only one vehicle showed signs of forced entry. [HPD]

Reston Association Board Election is Underway — This year, four candidates are vying for two at-large seats on the board. Each spring, the organization conducts elections to fill vacant seats on its nine-member board. [Reston Patch]

Photo by Doug Errett/Twitter

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The Reston Association (RA) has reinstated the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) after a year-long suspension.

The committee, which was temporarily suspended in February 2020, advises the RA “Board of Directors on the sound management and development of facilities and amenities for association members, the delivery of association-sponsored or co-sponsored recreation/leisure activities and services and the prioritization of funding for capital improvements and recreation services,” according to the association’s site.

RA is already accepting applications online for any member in good standing that wishes to volunteer to be a committee member for PRAC.

The advisory committee was suspended at a board meeting as RA moved forward with a data-driven review of its recreational facilities. The review was headed by the Recreation Facilities Working Group (RFWG), which presented its findings during the board’s Feb. 25 meeting.

The reinstatement of PRAC last week came as one of RFWG’s primary recommendations for the RA board.

“Part of the facility workflow process that we envisioned has the PRAC being a significant player in helping to navigate through that workflow process, managing community engagement and helping the board understand what are our opportunities and perhaps challenges as we make decisions around individual facilities,” said Jeff Thomas, a RFWG member who presented the group’s findings to the board.

The primary recommendations RFWG advised to the board also included implementing a facility workflow process to repurpose or maintain specific sites and evaluate the annual funding required preventing deferring major repairs and replacement at sites.

Other recommendations were to encourage RA member participation and seek feedback on facilities and building a Parks and Recreation Master Plan for the next 10 years.

“We’re a standout community when it comes to our recreation facilities. We should be proud of that,” Thomas said. “The thing we do need to recognize though is that the increased capital cost needs to be dealt with in a meaningful way. They’re probably not going to be sustainable without significant increases to assessments or other funding sources.”

Thomas also presented findings and recommendations for the pools, tennis courts and lake access in the RA community.

RFWG’s proposals for pools were that they should be a focus in a new community recreation master plan, marketing should be increased to help grow pool membership and an evaluation should be conducted on amenity improvements for best practices of pool operations and service to residents.

Thomas also shared that RA should evaluate long-term operations of underutilized pools and potential opportunities for repurposing them.

The lake access recommendations included improving Reston residents’ access to the lakes, improving or installing launches for small boats or kayaks, and adding boat storage and dock fees for non-residents. Other recommendations were to install docks or controlled areas for fishing or observation, introduce new community programming, and partner with other community-oriented groups for environmental education.

“The lakes are certainly important assets that we have here in Reston that are really valued and appreciated,” Thomas said. “But we think there’s probably opportunities to better leverage those lakes for recreational activities.”

The tennis court recommendations included ensuring adequate budgeting for maintenance of the courts and their surrounding areas, providing more marketing of the courts, capturing more data on tennis interest for future decisions and exploring adapting underused courts to a multi-use model to allow play for other sports.

Instead of taking immediate action on RFWG’s recommendations, the board approved a motion from Director Bob Petrine to defer any decisions on them until the full board has a working session to discuss each item. His motion included deferring action on RFWG’s report until the Fiscal Committee finishes its current project work on the facility financial analysis.

Petrine’s approved motion also included directing RA staff to send RFWG’s report and materials to association members via RA’s newsletter, cluster newsletters and social media channels as well with other committees.

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The major renovation of Lake Thoreau Pool, which has been closed since last year, is set for a groundbreaking in October.

While the project is on budget, the overall effort is roughly three months behind schedule due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipated delays with the county’s permitting process.

In a presentation to Reston Association’s Board of Directors late last week, Chris Schumaker, RA’s capital projects director, said that while it may be possible to catch up on the project timeline, permitting delays are very common due to the pandemic.

“Things that used to take weeks now take months,” Schumaker said.

In response to a member’s concerns about delays, Schumaker noted that the county is not conducting onsite inspections. Field surveys are being done over the phone, which has slowed things down quite a bit.

Member Michelle Kimmel urged RA to keep the community engaged and informed about the ongoing project.

“Already, our pool has been closed for years,” she said.

After meetings with the community, RA selected a lean design concept for the renovation project that works within the existing footprint of the site. A zero-depth wading pool would be installed on the facility’s deep end, the parking lot would be expanded, and the bathhouse would meet county and federal code requirements for individuals with disabilities. A lounge observation deck is also planned in the new design.

RA is considering replacing a lakeside retaining wall with a metal-framed overlook deck, a move that would significantly decrease the cost of the project. Plans are underway to determine how to integrate a family-use bathroom. The parking lot will have 25 spaces for the time being, according to the presentation.

RA allocated roughly 1.6 million in its 2021 capital budget for the project.

The association is also working through plans for storage options for watercraft.

An initial concept review by the Design Review Board is tentatively set for March 16. After another review by the DRB in mid-July, the contract would head for a vote by the board in August.

Kimley-Horn has been hired as the chief project engineer, along with Lemay Erickson Willcox for building architecture, Councilmen Hunsaker for pool design, GRS Group for surveying, and Terracon for geotechnical work.

So far, roughly 60 percent of the project’s drawings have been completed, along with a geotechnical survey and engineering, a review of existing conditions, and other surveying.

A grand reopening is set for May 2023, although the project will be completed by October of next year.

RA also plans to evaluate the success of the project and review feedback from members towards the end of next year.

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Voting in the 2021 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 1 through April 2. This week, we will begin posting profiles on each of the candidates. The complete election schedule is available online.

Featured here is Vincent Dory who is running against three other people for one of two at-large seats. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

I have lived in Reston for two years. I decided to set my roots down here because of the unique design and architectural philosophy that governs the design of this place and for the great location in regards to jobs in the area.

What inspired you to run for the board? 

I was inspired to run for the board out of my great appreciation for Reston’s history and design, desire to serve a greater community, and because of the fact that I am a self-driven person. The local activism in regards to the preservation of Reston’s green spaces has also inspired me to run.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

As a board member, I will have three primary goals that I will push for.
First, I will work to protect our community’s green spaces with absolute commitment and with all available resources. Our trees and open spaces are a vital part of Reston’s identity that also provide our community with numerous benefits. The RA should use its platform and influence to protect these assets from over development and liaison with outside entities to assist in this whenever possible.
Next, I believe the RA should focus on improving and repairing current amenities rather than acquiring new ones. In light of the economic problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for repairs and upgrades for our pools and tennis courts, the need for maintenance with our dams, and the currently good state of the RA’s finances; now is the time for prudence and caution with the RA’s amenities, and with its finances.

Finally, I would be an important asset in the work to ensure reston.org‘s current redesign is the best possible for our member’s usage. I am a professional software developer, which gives me knowledge in being able to assist the Association with any technology issues. I also have certifications in cloud computing, which our IT infrastructure recently transferred to. All of this will be valuable for making our technology the best it can be in this time of transition.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

I hope to accomplish the aforementioned goals, and help govern the RA in a measured, effective manner.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

In addition to my aforementioned skills with technology, I also was the president of my fraternity during university. I am also active in many local political and activist organizations in my spare time. This all gives me experience in managing organizations effectively, dealing with and utilizing personnel to their best abilities, and having a smooth management of finances and assets. You can find more about me at my website, vincentdory.com.

Photo via Reston Association

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Voting in the 2021 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 1 through April 2. This week, we will begin posting profiles on each of the candidates. The complete election schedule is available online.

Featured here is Sarah Selvaraj-Dsouza who is running against three other people for one of two at-large seats. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

I have been fortunate to call Reston my home for the past 13 years. What brought me here was fate, but what has kept me here is a love and appreciation for Reston and its many wonderful offerings, the nature, the amenities, the attractions, and most of all the people who make our community so vibrant and unique.

When I came to Reston, I brought with me a business degree, ideas, and dreams. In 2013, I launched a small business in Northern Virginia. The Reston community helped me realize this dream. Ceramic classes and studio offerings at the Reston Community Center were an intricate part of my growth. I spent countless hours with the amazing instructors there, playing with clay. And as a mom, I have thoroughly enjoyed all that Reston has to offer from museums, art galleries, trails, parks, lakes, even a zoo, kids classes, ice-skating, pools, tennis courts, shopping, and so much more.

Each of our stories on what brought us to Reston and what keeps us here is unique and what makes this area an amazing place to live work and play. I want to hear about your story. Visit me on SARAH4RESTON.com so we can get to know each other and chat, I would love to talk, text, email or simply good ol’fashioned meet for coffee.

What inspired you to run for the board? (Note: If you are currently on the board or have held a previous position on the board, emphasize why you are running again). 

This year on the board, I championed several initiatives including:

  • resisting substantial increases to our dues,
  • offering pool pass discounts and refunds to members whose enjoyment of our facilities had been impacted by COVID
  • encouraging RA to take a very public stance in support of our golf courses
  • insisting on greater transparency from the association, board, and staff
  • improving cluster communications
  • advocating for an IT committee to help RA staff with strategy and oversight to protect members’ data and address several technology concerns that have plagued us over the years.

But Reston we’ve got a lot more work to do.

I am committed to ensuring RA’s primary focus is our membership – YOU.

Please vote for me to represent you for a full 3-year term so together we can see Reston flourish. Please visit me at Sarah4Reston.com for more info.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

  • Affordability – From affordable housing to affordable RA assessments, affordability is KEY to all of us. We need to ensure our assessments are affordable. Being a mom and a small business owner I know every dollar spent towards an assessment is a dollar not spent on my family or my business.

  • Density and Redevelopment – RA must be an advocate for Restonians on Land Use issues. We need a strong board that can effectively represent us to the county on plans that conflict with our members’ best interests. New development must be part of RA. Many of these developments tout RA’s wonderful offerings like our amenities, lakes, and trails to entice new owners but are not members of RA and do not contribute to the upkeep.

  • Climate Change – The urgency of climate change cannot be ignored. Reston under the RA Environmental Advisory Committee(EAC)’s leadership is working towards being a leader on this front. We can and must do more. This year as liaison to the EAC I advocated for more visibility and input from this amazing group of volunteers on RA operations that impact the environment. I invite you to learn about and take the biophilic pledge with me and to visit Reston Today’s informative video.

These are big issues and need lots of conversations with the community and voices to find the right solutions for Reston. I want to start/continue these conversations. If you would like to join in, visit SARAH4RESTON.com

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

I had the honor to serve as one of your At-Large Representatives on the board this year. I am asking for your vote again because I want to continue to advocate for fiscal responsibility, transparency, two-way communications, and action-oriented leadership.

  • Greater Fiscal Responsibility: I believe smart money management does not mean raising assessments or pay cuts for hard-working RA staff. Smart money management means the efficient and effective use of available resources, including the knowledge and experience of the RA Fiscal Committee. It also means exploring the possibility of public/private partnerships and other non-assessment revenue streams to meet membership needs.

  • Greater Transparency and Communication: The RA Board must be committed to transparency and empowering the membership through meaningful engagement. We can achieve this by disseminating necessary documents and reports sufficiently prior to board/committee meetings to allow member participation and comment.

  • Action-Oriented Leadership: I will use my skill set as a successful business owner for creative problem-solving, where consensus building, communication, and firm deadlines will be key. I will encourage implementing action items in a timely manner.

5. How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

Making a small business grow and prosper over the last eight years has required the ability to adapt and innovate especially to survive 2020. Those skills would benefit the RA board and our community.

Diversity, innovation, and adaptation have been an integral part of my life. I grew up in India, completed my engineering degree in Singapore, obtained my MBA in Bristol, England, and moved to Reston 13 years ago to start my family.

I love that our Reston community is much more than shared zip codes. When COVID hit and the struggle for civil rights and justice came to the forefront, I founded RESTONSTRONG and organized more than 5000 neighbors for community action including a peaceful demonstration and no-contact donation pods. I serve on the GMU School of Music Board, foster for LostDogRescue.org, and now help my 5th grade Terraset Tiger with distance-learning.

Most importantly, as a homeowner, a business owner, and a mom, I know the value RA brings to our community and lives, and I am also keenly aware of the strain we can face when assessments are raised or prices for programs and amenities become more expensive. I will ensure our money is spent wisely, I will champion accountability and transparency, and I will use my experience and passion for our community to implement creative solutions.

Photo via Reston Association

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Voting in the 2021 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 1 through April 2. This week, we will begin posting profiles on each of the candidates. The complete election schedule is available online.

Featured here is John Farrell who is running against three other people for one of two at-large seats. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. 

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

My family had the good fortune to move Reston in 1984. My 4 kids went to Terraset, Hughes and South Lakes Schools. They went to RA camps, learned to swim at RA pools and played ball on RA fields.  Our cluster has been home to many kinds of families of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.  That diversity has enriched all of us and truly makes Reston a unique and amazing place to live, work and play.

My passion for Reston actually began many years before I moved here. In 1965, like other 12 year olds, I was fascinated by coverage of the Gemini V mission sponsored by Gulf Oil.  Gulf’s ads featured Reston, a planned Virginia community.  In the midst of the Massive Resistance era, Gulf touted Reston’s housing for all socio-economic levels throughout a family’s lifecycle and the absence of racial covenants. Those ads set my life’s course: to study urban government in college and zoning and planning in law school.

Getting to raise my four children in Reston has been the fulfillment of a vision formed 55 years ago.

What inspired you to run for the board? 

I love all that Reston offers it members. Our amenities are one of the top reasons we are a nationally recognized place to live, work and play.  There is a cost and as we welcome new neighbors and as facilities age, upkeep costs will increase as well.  When I heard from RA leadership that it had not even asked the developers of the new apartments around the Metro station to join RA to help fund the upkeep of our trails, parks, lakes and ball fields that their tenants will use, it was clear the RA needs change. When I later found out that RA had not made a written demand to receive part of the recreational contributions made by those developers, it was clear that RA needed someone to advocate for its membership.

The bookshelves of the RA offices groan with one study after another, yet there is little action, advocacy or accountability by RA leadership.  It’s time for RA to take action. It’s time for RA to vigorously advocate for its members interests. It’s time for accountability by RA leadership to its members.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

My overriding concern is to insure that we retain what’s best about Reston and that it prospers for the next generation. Some of my specific means of advancing that intention are to:

  1. Permanently preserve both golf courses;
  2. Promptly reopen Lake Thoreau pool as efficiently as possible and advocate that all RA facilities are open during their intended season; and
  3. Strongly advocate for the new apartment owners near the Metro stations to pay RA assessments to help pay to maintain our trails, open space and ball fields that their tenants will use.It’s only fair and will hold down our RA assessments
  4. What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

First and foremost, I want to be your advocate.  There’s a lot to love about Reston and there’s a lot that we can do together to make living, working and playing here even better.

Here are a few of my ideas:

  • Advocate for some the $25 million in recreational facility contributions from the developers of Reston’s new residential projects to be used for RA facilities and that all of it be spent in Reston;
  • Do our part to protect our environment by adopting a clear plan to convert RA’s fleet to electric vehicles;
  • Require all commercial properties to comply with RA’s covenants that protect our property values;
  • Increase transparency and encourage member engagement by avoiding executive sessions and revising RA’s committee structure to improve members’ understanding of RA functions;
  • Create a RA website that provides easily accessible information and two-way communication for all RA members at reasonable cost;
  • Insist that RA engage knowledgeable people to securely protect its members personal data; and
  • Preserving Reston’s legacy of inclusion of all social-economic groups at all stages of a family’s life-cycle.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

  • I’ve spent my professional career advocating for homeowners and homeowners associations and I can use what I’ve learned to strengthen RA.
  • As an attorney specializing in zoning and wetlands law, I understand the regulatory challenges to preserving our unique community.
  • As President of the Fairfax Girls Softball League, I worked with others to successfully lobby the County Board of Supervisors to spend $100,000 per year for 10 years to bring the softball facilities up to the same quality as the baseball facilities.
  • As National President for the 40,000-member Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation, I managed a large volunteer membership organization.
  • As President of Colonial Oaks cluster, for the last 6 years, I’ve successfully dealt with the many issues facing RA clusters and learned the strengths and weaknesses of the RA covenant process.
  • I’ve spent the last 20 years protecting the right to vote in Fairfax.

I hope you’ll agree that all of that is experience you can trust.

Find out more by visiting farrell4reston.com.

Photo via Reston Association

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Reston Association has shifted to cloud platforms amid an ongoing conversation on how to address IT security concerns. Some members of RA’s Board of Directors are pushing for the creation of a new IT committee that would guide RA staff on best practices for IT security.

The discussion comes after some board members expressed major concerns about how personal data is stored, why RA’s website was suddenly taken down that year, and allocated funding for IT-related projects.

In a letter to members today, RA noted that its IT department has taken ‘a number of steps to fortify and protect members’ information.’

Currently, no member data is hosted on RA systems, a shift from previous years. The organization transitioned to vendor-hosted software as well.

More from the letter is below.

RA member data related to annual assessment payments, recreational registrations, covenants records and other external business transactions are now on cloud systems managed by professional vendors who use the latest security standards to protect private information. 

Additionally, internal business operations such as email and document-sharing systems have been migrated to Microsoft Office 365 cloud platform. The Microsoft platform offers increased security features that combat social engineering, phishing and other online threats.

As new technologies to address security issues are ever-evolving, RA’s IT team is constantly reviewing controls and policies to protect the organization and its members’ private information. RA wants to ensure members that their data and personal information is safeguarded by a robust cloud-based network of vendors that uses the industry’s highest standards to protect all data.

RA’s Board Governance Committee will review the proposal for a new IT committee on March 4. The meeting takes place via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.

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Thursday Morning Notes

County Vaccine Clinics Canceled — The county has canceled vaccine clinics at the Fairfax County Government Center and four health department district office sites for today due to weather conditions. Individuals can reschedule their appointments for next week. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Association Candidate Forum Set for Next Week — Members will have the chance to ask questions in a debate-style forum on Wednesday, Feb. 24. [RA]

No Rolling Stops for Va. Cyclists Yet — “The Virginia Senate on Wednesday sidelined a proposal that would have allowed bicyclists to yield instead of halt at stop signs. Instead, lawmakers voted to commission a police study of the rule as enacted in other states. They also voted to require drivers to change lanes when passing bicyclists if three feet of distance isn’t possible and to allow two cyclists to ride side by side in a lane.” [Washington Post]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Last year, Reston Association’s website was abruptly taken down because of outdated technology and stability issues.  The loss of some financial records and limited backups was also cited as an issue in previous board meetings.

These challenges, along with other IT security needs, have prompted a call by four board members to create a board IT committee. If approved, the volunteer-run committee would be tasked with reviewing RA’s technology landscape, advising the association on procurement, data security and privacy, as well as other hands-on solutions. Board members Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza, Bob Petrine, and Tom Mulkerin also worked on the plan.

Board member Ven Iyer, who described himself as an expert in security and IT infrastructure with 19 years of experience, said RA’s IT systems are “unfit”for conducting financial and Personally Identifiable data.

“If you were a bank or you were somebody handling PI data, you would be shut down. And you thoroughly need the help,” Iyer said at a special board meeting earlier this week.

He says RA’s IT issues are so severe that the institution of a board committee is necessary in order to make “RA capable of conducting business.”

But the proposal was met with some skepticism by other board members. Board president Julie Bitzer said the proposal needed a more thorough review before a board vote.

Four board members and RA’s legal counsel will revise the proposal in advance of another board special meeting on Monday, Feb. 15. The move was suggested by board member John Mooney and backed by Bitzer, Mike Collins, Caren Anton, and Aaron Webb.

“You don’t rush something important like this,”Mooney said.

Some board members questioned if it was appropriate to set up a board committee – which has more authority than an advisory or working group – to manage and advise RA on IT issues. Other board committees like RA’s Board Governance Committee and Board Advisory Committee have more authority than working groups or advisory committees. 

Others simply said immediate action was necessary, especially since IT-related spending is a big-ticket spending item.

“The feeling was that you need to have the strength of the board like the fiscal committee does,” said D’Szousa.

Iyer, who said he has pushed for the creation of an IT committee for years, said the urgency of the need should not be underestimated.

Irwin Flashman, an RA member, said that residents would be more than willing to help support RA’s IT efforts and guide decision-making with expert advice.

“Reston is a technology center and many of those who work in the industry live in Reston and would be well qualified and willing, I feel certain, to lend a guiding hand to such an IT Committee and RA,”Flashman said.

‘We urge the board to act diligently and seriously. You hold the security of RA information in your hands. It is a great and serious responsibility.’

Within one day, RA staff quickly created a temporary website in July after the association’s IT team learned that the old website created a “potential security risk” to RA members and the DotNetNuke platform was no longer ‘technically supportable,’ according to past meeting materials.

Planning is underway to launch a new website with enhanced communication features later this year.

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Friday Morning Notes

Northam to Extend School Year into Summer — Gov. Ralph Northam will announce a plan to extend the school year into the summer today. N details have been released, but the plan is intended to help students catch up. [Inside NOVA]

Reston Association Board to Meet Next Week — RA’s Board of Directors will hold a special online meeting on Monday evening to have a consultation with counsel. [RA]

Food and Coat Drives Set for Tomorrow in Reston — Cornerstones’ Coat Closet is accepting winter items from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at the North County Government Center while Stuff the Bus will have buses parked at the center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for donations. [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The 2021 Reston Association Board of Director elections are here.

Every spring, the Reston Association elects three new members to their Board of Directors. Five candidates are certified this year for three spots, including four for the two at-large spots and one for the South Lakes District. All new members will serve a three-year term.

Ballots close April 2 for drop-off and online submission. Results will be announced April 13.

The candidates are:

At-Large (two seats available)

John Farrell 

A Reston resident since 1984 who is firmly the president of the Colonial Oaks Cluster, he wants facility improvements to be funded by new developers into the area.

Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza

An incumbent at-large representative, she is promoting transparency and smart money management. She founded RESTONSTRONG last year and held peaceful demonstrations.

Timothy J. Dowling

A retired attorney who served as the chief counsel on the Community Rights Counsel. A long-time resident, his priorities would be fiscal oversight, protecting opening spaces, and preserving Reston’s natural resources.

Vincent Dory

A programmer, he’s committed to solving all the technological questions and issues that may come up on the board. His primary concern is to preserve and protect the core principles of Reston’s unique design.

South Lakes District (one seat available)

Jennifer Jushchuk

A Reston resident since 2014, priorities include fiscal responsibility, communication, collaboration, and advocacy.

Further information about the candidates and their priorities can be found here.

Photo via Reston Association/Facebook.

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Reston Association is adopting a new approach to its collections of member assessments.

RA’s Board of Directors voted to scrap a $2.95 convenience fee that was required for online payments. The organization also launched a new online portal for paying assessments.

In a recent Reston Today video, RA noted that the new portal creates a consolidated way for members to make payments or set up payment plans. The association will no longer accept payments made through the general website or the Webtrac portal.

However, members can also make in-person payments by appointment only. Payment via credit card can also be made by calling RA’s member services department or by dropping off payments in a box outside RA’s headquarters, which are located at 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive.

This year’s assessment will go up by $10. The board decided to approve the increase by a 5-4 vote in late November.

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The Reston Association’s (RA) Board of Directors listened to a presentation about its surrounding environment as part of the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER) on Thursday, Dec. 17.

Doug Britt, a Virginia Master Naturalist and chair of RA’s Environmental Advisory Committee, presented the RASER study update to the board and RA’s members. The update has 18 authors and coauthors that include members of RA’s environmental advisory committee and outside individuals.

The update conforms to RASER’s five objectives listed on RA’s website:

  • Summarize existing quantitative environmental data for the Reston community in one publicly accessible document.
  • Establish an environmental baseline that can be reassessed annually to facilitate the identification of environmental trends and to evaluate the efficacy of environmental improvement and conservation programs and initiatives.
  • Provide relevant and timely environmental information that can help RA and its board of directors in shaping future policy and programs.
  • Help educate and inform Reston residents and other interested parties about Reston’s environmental health.
  • Create a living document that can be revised and expanded as deemed appropriate to meet future environmental challenges and information needs.

This latest RASER update focused on 21 natural resources or environmental topics. Each topic was color-coded green (good), yellow (fair), red (poor), or black (undetermined) to indicate its overall condition.

The following attributes received a green status: air quality, drinking water, wastewater treatment, hazardous materials and toxic waste, and environmental education and outreach.

Fair attributes include: streams, lakes and ponds, urban forests, meadows, landscaping and urban agriculture, birds, wildlife management issues, and light pollution.

Poor attributes include storm water management and solid waste management.

Undetermined attributes include: wetlands, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates, noise pollution, and climate change.

Britt described storm water management as “perhaps the biggest existing problem” in Reston. He estimates that the issue dates back to the lack of strict county regulations when Reston was expanding in the 1960s and 1970s.

Single-use plastics are one of the primary concerns that resulted in solid waste management receiving a poor rating. Britt added that litter created by personal protection equipment and food carryout materials have been a unique issue in 2020.

Britt said the RASER group would come back at another board meeting to present a standalone report on energy efficiency. He said there is a plan to include the category in the 2020 RASER update, but the subject was so “complex to take on” that the group decided to separate the subject from this update.

The RASER project team will return to RA’s board in either January or February to present a combined list of recommendations for RA and a report card on how attributes have been addressed.

The board approved to accept the report as it was presented Thursday. Now that the nearly 200-page report has been accepted by the board, the full copy of it will be available to the public on RA’s website under the environmental page.

“This group has been the most amazing group of volunteers,” board member Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza said of the RASER project team.

“It’s been a pleasure to watch them work. Their dedication is just unbelievable.”

RASER was first published in July 2017 and updated in 2018. It is now updated and published biennially while the RASER project team publishes a report card and recommendations annually.

Photo via Reston Association/Facebook

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