Reston Association’s IT director has resigned, an IT committee has no chair and the organization has been working for over a year to upgrade its website.
It comes after Ven Iyer, a former RA board member, raised concerns about information technology issues, noting issues in March that included an email breach of former RA CEO Hank Lynch resulting in a loss of $187,000.
Clara William took on the role in September 2019, but RA spokesman Mike Leone said she resigned last month.
The organization temporarily took down its website in July 2020 and has been using a platform called Squarespace, a website builder that doesn’t require coding. A DropBox — a popular file hosting service — is used to house meeting materials for the public.
“We upgraded the website in July 2020, and it currently resides on SquareSpace,” Leone said in a statement. “It is secure and no member data is housed on that platform so there are no security concerns.”
In late February, the board agreed to have staff create a report by its next board meeting about all IT incidents in the past two years that resulted in the loss of “data, money or website capacity,” costs associated with the incidents and more. The motion said it would be released to members at the earliest date possible.
The board again reviewed the issue in executive session during a June 24 regular meeting, referred “the matter of the website to the IT Committee for review and recommendation” and instructed the association’s CEO to have “staff answer all Board questions” by Aug. 18.
Staff has completed the document but it’s not being made available to the public. Leone said it’s an internal document that addresses website capability and security. It wasn’t immediately clear whether dues-paying RA residents will have access to it. Leone said the IT committee will have access to the questions when they officially meet.
According to RA, it hopes to launch a new website sometime in 2022 but a timeline won’t be set until the IT committee meets.
Meanwhile, Lynch resigned in August. Larry Butler has since been named acting CEO as the search for a permanent CEO continues.
Former Herndon HS Teacher Sentenced for Child Pornography — Former Herndon High School drama teacher Raphael Schklowsky was sentenced on Friday (Sept. 3) to four years and two months of jail time after pleading guilty to unlawful filming and possessing child pornography. Police said he had used dozens of hidden cameras to record at least 8,000 videos of students undressing, including one woman who testified in court. [NBC4]
Reston Man Faces Weapons and Marijuana Charges — A 30-year-old Reston man faces multiple charges, including carrying a concealed weapon and distribution of marijuana, after police found him trespassing a private property in the 2000 block of Sanibel Drive on Aug. 31. Officers reportedly found that he was unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon as well as multiple rounds of ammunition and “a large amount” of marijuana. [FCPD]
RA Seeks Volunteers for Pickleball Tournament — Reston Association is looking for volunteers who are 16 and older to serve as court monitors or runners for its inaugural Pickleball Paddle Battle Tournament, which will take place at Lake Newport and Autumnwood Tennis Courts on Sept. 18 and 19. Volunteer nurses or CPR-trained professionals are also needed to work the event’s first aid tent. Anyone who’s interested can contact Ha Brock, at [email protected] or 703-435-7986. [RA News]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Labor Day weekend has almost arrived, unofficially bringing summer to an end with an occasion to recognize the achievement of workers and the labor movement.
For students, the weekend has already begun, since Fairfax County Public Schools has designated both today (Friday) and Monday (Sept. 6) as holidays.
While Reston Association’s summer pool season has mostly come to a close, a handful of pools will be open over Labor Day weekend, with the North Shore and Ridge Heights heated pools remaining open through Sept. 19.
RA announced on Tuesday (Aug. 31) that the North Shore, Ridge Heights, Lake Newport, and Glade pools will all open from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 4-5) as well as from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday.
“We are happy that we were able to open and operate the majority of RA pools safely this summer for our members enjoyment,” RA Director of Recreation and Environmental Education Laura Kowalski said in an email. “In addition, RA swim lessons, water exercise and pool events were well attended. And of course, our annual end of season Dog Paddles for our furry friends was a big hit.”
Elsewhere in Fairfax County, many public facilities and services will be closed or have altered schedules for Labor Day. Here are some of the changes that Reston and Herndon residents should be aware of for the federal holiday:
Fairfax County Government
- County government offices will be closed on Sept. 6.
Fairfax County Courts
- The Fairfax Circuit, General District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District courts will all be closed on Labor Day.
Town of Herndon
- Town offices and the Herndon Community Center will be closed for Labor Day.
- There will be no recycling collection that day. Residents whose recycling is typically collected on Mondays will instead have pick-ups on Tuesday (Sept. 7).
- The Herndon Centennial Golf Course will be open on Monday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
County Libraries and Recreational Facilities
- Fairfax County Public Library follows the same operating status as the general county government, so all branches will be closed on Labor Day.
- Nearly all Fairfax County RECenters will be open on Monday and follow their standard operating hours, which conclude at 6 p.m. The exception is the George Washington RECenter in Alexandria, which will be closed.
- The Colvin Run Mill and Sully historic sites, Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, and all nature centers will be closed.
- The visitor center at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon will be closed, but the farm itself will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The indoor arena will also be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- All Neighborhood and Community Services facilities, including community, teen, and senior centers, will be closed from Sept. 4-6.
- The Reston Community Center Hunters Woods and Lake Anne facilities will both be closed on Monday.
- Fairfax Connector buses will operate on a Sunday schedule for Labor Day. Check the transit system’s website for the specific routes that will be in service.
- Metro will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight throughout Labor Day weekend, with trains serving 87 of 91 stations normally on the Red, Blue, and Silver lines and scheduled maintenance on the Orange, Yellow, and Green lines.
- On Labor Day, Metrorail, buses, and MetroAccess will follow a Sunday service schedule with off-peak fares and free parking in effect all day.
County Trash and Recycling
- Labor Day will not affect trash and recycling collections for county customers. However, the customer service center will be closed in observance of the holiday.
- The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will both be open.
Photo via Reston Association/YouTube
Flash Flood Watch in Effect for Ida — The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch and Hazardous Weather Outlook for Fairfax County that will be in effect today (Wednesday) through tomorrow morning, as the remnants of Hurricane Ida pass over the region. The county advises avoiding flooded streets, moving valuables from basements, and making sure storm drains and gutters aren’t clogged. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]
Alcorn Denies County/Golf Course Development Deal — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn told the citizens’ advocacy group Rescue Reston that Fairfax County is not aware of any deals to redevelop one of Reston’s two golf courses. A Rescue Reston board member said his group had been told a development deal was “in the works with the county,” which Alcorn denied. [Patch]
Eagerness and Uncertainty Mix in High School Football’s Return to Reston — “By 6 p.m. Friday, the only remaining evidence of that afternoon’s thunder and rain were shallow puddles dotting the back parking lot at South Lakes High School in Reston…It was time for a football game. This matchup between the Seahawks and Robinson was one of about 50 games played across the D.C. area last weekend — the official return of fall football.” [The Washington Post]
RA Announces Labor Day Weekend Pool Schedule — The North Shore, Ridge Heights, Lake Newport, and Glade pools will all be open from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 4-5) and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday (Sept. 6). While the summer pool season is coming to a close, the North Shore and Ridge Heights pools will remain open through Sept. 19. [Reston Association/Twitter]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Thousands of Afghan Refugees Arrive At Dulles — About 14,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover on Aug. 15 have arrived in Virginia through Dulles International Airport, according to Gov. Ralph Northam, who called the effort “one of the largest airlifts in history” on Friday (Aug. 27). The federal government has set up a COVID-19 vaccination site for the new arrivals, just 20 of whom have tested positive so far. [WTOP]
New Survey on Countywide Strategic Plan Opens — Fairfax County is seeking more community input on its proposed Countywide Strategic Plan, which will serve as a guide for the county’s priorities over the next 10 to 20 years. A fourth community survey is now available in multiple languages until Sept. 24, with the Board of Supervisors expected to take action on a final plan in October. [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]
Man Arrested for South Lakes BB&T Robbery — A man believe to be behind the Tuesday morning robbery of the BB&T Bank in South Lakes Village Shopping Center was arrested in Richmond, according to the weekly crime report. The suspect was arrested on Thursday (Aug. 26) on unrelated charges but now also faces two counts of robbery. He is awaiting extradition to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. [Patch]
Fairfax County Police Recruit Two New Canines — Bloodhound pups Duke and Luna will soon start a year-long training program to prepare them to join the Fairfax County Police Department’s K-9 unit, which currently consists of 28 dogs, including three other bloodhounds, and 15 human officers. The dogs will help the department find “critically missing people,” including people with dementia, children, and individuals who might be suicidal. [The Washington Post]
Reston Association to Hold Listening Sessions Next Month — “Reston Association will be hosting a series of Listening Sessions, one for each district, over the coming weeks on Zoom. These meetings will allow the Board to engage with each district and listen to the concerns, comments, and suggestions members have for RA.” [RA/Twitter]
Reston Association pitched several major capital projects to Friends of Reston (FOR) last week in hopes of enlisting the nonprofit as a fundraiser, but the proposal didn’t go over as planned.
RA staff made the case at the joint board meeting on Thursday (Aug. 19) that it could use FOR’s help to cover the costs of three projects: a Brown’s Chapel event barn, a Walker Nature Center treehouse, and an inclusive playground similar to the one at Clemyjontri Park in McLean — each with an estimated cost of more than a million dollars.
However, the RA and FOR boards both expressed hesitation and even frustration at the appeal, citing a lack of membership feedback, COVID-related sensitivities, and an ongoing budget crunch.
“For any kind of capital campaign, we’d have to see that 80% of the community wants this,” FOR President Carol Nahorniak said. “I’m concerned about the cost…Looking at that price tag, we always know it will cost more. There are certain things I’m just not comfortable with.”
RA Director Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza said she had heard only about the event barn prior to the meeting with FOR, calling it “embarrassing” that the board of directors wasn’t made aware of the other projects sooner.
RA interim CEO Larry Butler downplayed the pitch, saying all of this was simply “brainstorming” based on examples of potential major capital projects from staff.
This isn’t the first time that RA has solicited FOR’s assistance with funding a major capital project. The completion of the Nature House at the Walker Nature Center in 2019 was the result of a capital campaign that raised $1.5 million for the design and construction.
However, FOR has not been involved with a major capital project since then.
Instead, FOR typically helps Reston Association with a multitude of smaller projects, causes, and programs every year.
The nonprofit made some funding requests of its own at the meeting, submitting a list with items like camp and tennis scholarships for kids, habitat restoration enhancements, and an environmental film series.
The largest ask in terms of dollars was nearly $11,000 to assist members who are struggling to pay their RA annual assessments, which could increase again.
Granting all the requests would cost RA just over $84,000. Both boards will discuss their top priorities on the list at a later date.
However, there might not be much of an appetite right now for RA and FOR to collaborate on any bigger projects.
Board members indicated during the meeting that pandemic-related concerns remain on many minds. Other factors behind the lack of commitment include the potential assessment increase due to rising operational expenses, higher priority capital projects, and the need to hire a new CEO.
Of the three projects proposed by RA staff as potential ideas for collaboration, the events barn drew particular consternation.
According to FOR’s governing documents, the organization is not allowed to help fund a project that would generate revenue — which is exactly the intention of the event barn.
Nahorniak noted that all capital projects take longer, cost more, and garner more intense reaction than often anticipated.
“Friends of Reston just stays away from controversy,” Nahorniak said. “I don’t want to be involved in a project that could embarrass anyone.”
Lit Candles Start Fire in Herndon Storage Unit — Three Public Storage units sustained fire and smoke damage after unattended, lit candles placed too close to combustibles fueled a blaze on Friday (Aug. 20). Fairfax County and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority units responded to the 2900 block of Centreville Road around 2:11 p.m. The fire resulted in approximately $165,000 in damages but no injuries or displacements. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
Herndon Man Tries to Bring Loaded Gun on Plane — A man from Herndon will be fined after Transportation Security Administration agents prevented him from bringing a loaded handgun onto a flight at Dulles International Airport. Officials said it was the 10th handgun seized at the airport so far this year after 19 such incidents in 2019. [The Washington Post]
County Police Dog Dies from Cancer — Fairfax County Police Department K9 Silas died of cancer on Saturday (Aug. 21), the department said yesterday (Monday) in a Facebook post. Joining the FCPD as a puppy in 2013 with his brother Bolt, Silas was diagnosed last fall and began receiving radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He responded well, living beyond expectations and continuing to help police track down critically missing people. [Patch]
RA Urges Continued Caution Around Lake Algae — An algae bloom that emerged at Lake Audubon in July was determined to be not harmful, but Reston Association says residents should remain cautious in their use of the lake until little to no algal colonies are present. More information about how to help prevent future blooms can be found through the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. [RA/YouTube]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Faced with a tight budget, Reston Association is contemplating what capital improvement projects it should prioritize — and which ones might need to be delayed or even cut.
At a budget work session on Wednesday (Aug. 18), the board of directors discussed planned renovations, cracking tennis courts, potential pool repurposing, and where the money is going to come from to address all of those issues.
RA’s capital needs have grown in recent years, according to a presentation delivered at the meeting by the chair of the fiscal committee Dave Kerr.
Over the next decade, it’s estimated that RA will need $40 million to cover capital costs, which have become a persistent concern. RA is currently working on a five-year capital improvement project plan to better assess its existing and future needs.
“We believe that we maybe should revisit even approved projects just to make sure we are working on the right things,” said Kerr.
The projected increase in costs is due in part to a renovation schedule with six pools over the next six years, according to the presentation.
The list includes Shadowood pool, which is currently closed while it waits for about $200,000 worth of maintenance. That is in addition to the $1.4 million needed to renovate the entire facility, according to another staff presentation.
The Shadowood pool is also among the facilities that RA has proposed potentially repurposing due to low usage.
The board devoted a chunk of the meeting to discussing if it’s worth spending money to do maintenance work on the community pool now, only for it to be renovated or even repurposed later.
The consensus was that it was not, leaving the possibility that the pool won’t be open again for the 2022 season.
RA is still gathering community feedback on its pool repurposing idea, though board member Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza offered a motion asking that an in-person event be arranged to better interact with the residents who use that pool.
“Shadowood is a very different community [than the rest of Reston]. They don’t have the time…to sit through a RA board meeting,” said Selvaraj-D’Souza. “A lot of them are non-English speaking…If we want to get feedback from Shadowood, we need to get boots on the ground, and get their feedback.”
The motion was approved unanimously, committing RA to hold an in-person event — perhaps an ice cream social — to solicit feedback.
The Barton Hill tennis courts are also in need of a major overhaul, and comments during the meeting suggested that project is a staff priority.
The courts are cracked, the foundation is an issue, and some community members have requested converting them into pickleball courts. Other possible improvements include the addition of lights and a seasonal, roof-like covering. Of course, all of that would cost money — potentially more than $850,000.
The board didn’t make any decision on the Barton Hill project beyond requesting more information about the cost and timeline.
Given the amount of capital improvements waiting to be made, including many that the board didn’t have time to discuss, one board member floated the idea of RA borrowing money so it could afford all of the projects. The board has also discussed raising assessments next year.
Further complicating discussions about RA’s fiscal year 2022 is the impending departure of CEO Hank Lynch, who announced earlier this month that he will resign for another position. While he is still technically in the role until Sept. 3, he wasn’t in attendance at the virtual budget work session.
Reston Association Board Names Acting CEO — The Board of Directors named COO Larry Butler as the organization’s acting CEO last night (Thursday) in preparation for current head Hank Lynch’s resignation effective Sept. 3. Butler also served in the position when RA conducted its last CEO search in 2018. Lynch’s permanent successor will be chosen by a committee created by the board. [RA]
Pedestrian Deaths Worry Fairfax County — Route 1 has become a focal point of concerns about traffic safety in Fairfax County, which has recorded 10 pedestrian deaths in the past seven months. The police department launched a campaign this summer urging drivers in the Reston area to slow down, especially at two intersections around Reston Town Center. [NBC4]
Second Union Backs School Vaccine Mandate — The Fairfax Education Association, which represents Fairfax County Public School teachers and staff, joined the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers in supporting the idea of a vaccine requirement for FCPS employees. The union also supports universal masking and called on the school system to extend its Family Medical Leave Act paid sick leave policy through Dec. 31. [FEA]
Car Seat Inspection Event Tomorrow — “Safety matters! Our Traffic Safety Section is hosting a car seat inspection and install event on Saturday, August 21 at 1421 Wiehle Avenue in Reston from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Inspections and installations are on a first come, first serve basis.” [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]
The Reston Association Design Review Board is set to vote on guidelines for electric vehicle charging stations today (Aug. 16).
Draft guidance setting parameters including about location, size, and appearance of the stations will be discussed and reviewed during the board’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. The board is also expected to decide whether to send the draft to the RA Board Operations Committee for feedback, RA spokesperson Mike Leone confirms.
Electric vehicle charging stations have been much discussed at cluster and RA meetings in recent months.
More and more electric vehicle charging stations have been installed throughout clusters and Reston over the last year, according to a January presentation.
Although they were all approved by the DRB, they have emerged without established guidance or standards and without consistent consultation with RA. As a result, the charging stations often vary in appearance and sometimes even pose safety risks due to their locations.
In all, six different types and designs of stations have been approved by the DRB.
Earlier in the year, RA contracted engineering consultant Kimley Horn to help establish guidelines. In May, staff admitted that, upon further research, providing adequate guidance was “more complex” than initially thought.
While a preliminary draft of guidelines has been out for several months, a working group has met twice to discuss amendments and changes.
The updated draft addresses concerns from RA members and staff. It limits charging stations to six-and-a-half feet in height, and they may not have any cords or cables that extend into foot traffic paths. They must appear “seamlessly” integrated into the surroundings, among other parameters.
Applications will also require photos or drawings of the proposed stations, proof of a maintenance agreement, and a “qualified, experienced” person to install the station.
It’s expected that a draft of the guidelines will be submitted to the BOC for feedback in time for their Sept. 7 meeting. Then, the design review board will hold a public hearing later that month.
It is estimated that the RA Board of Directors will approve the guidelines at their October 28 meeting and a set date for implementation.
RA has also been exploring the possibility of replacing its fleet of fossil-fuel vehicles with electric ones over the next decade. That initiative, though, has met some obstacles, as a staff report found that a full fleet replacement remains prohibitive due to the cost and availability of electric vehicles.
RA’s Chief Operation Officer Larry Butler said at a meeting in June that Kimley Horn, which is also assisting RA in this matter, recommended reevaluating electric vehicle options “every two to three, maybe four, years.”
Photo via Reston Association
Crews appear to have aced the overhaul of Hook Road’s tennis courts, which are once again available for use.
Reston Association finished replacing the Hook Road courts with completely new asphalt court surfaces and coloring earlier this month.
The renovation also involved installing new fencing, drainage, access improvements, and energy-efficient LED lighting, which will be operational by this coming Friday (Aug. 20), according to RA’s capital projects webpage.
After closing for construction starting in March, the four courts opened back up Friday evening (Aug. 13). By Saturday morning, community members were already taking advantage of the refurbished facilities: a game unfolded on one court, while an instructor delivered a tennis lesson on another.
“They’re beautiful, they’re flat, and they play well,” one of the players, Reston resident George Jastrzebski, said of the new courts.
The overhaul of the tennis courts on Fairway Drive ends a years-long journey.
The project was part of a larger upgrade of the Hook Road Recreational Area that RA started working on in 2016. Other projects identified there in a conceptual master plan include improvements to the baseball fields and pathways.
Crews used heavy machinery to grind up the former courts, which were built in the mid-1970s. Crews mixed in cement then laid down the new courts.
Typically for tennis court renovations, Reston Association layers gravel and asphalt on top of the existing surface, but three layers had already accumulated on the Hook Road courts, so they decided to do more extensive renovations, RA Director of Capital Projects Chris Schumaker said in a Reston Today video in late March.
“It will be a much stronger base than prior ones,” Schumaker said in the video. “It should last significantly longer than prior court renovations. We’re usually expecting about 30 or 40 years out of this.”
He also said the project has the benefit of not sending the asphalt into a landfill.
Jastrzebski has played at the Hook Road courts “on and off” but said on Saturday that he might try to use the courts more now that they’re renovated.
Reston Association’s Board of Directors began the process of creating a selection committee yesterday (Wednesday) to find a replacement for CEO Hank Lynch, who announced on Aug. 6 that he will resign next month.
The committee will screen applications, conduct initial interviews with candidates, and give recommendations on whom the board should hold final interviews with, according to a motion made during a special board meeting held online through Zoom.
“Hank, you will be greatly missed, but thank you for giving us this amazing group of people at Reston Association,” Director Tim Dowling said in reference to the association’s 101 employees.
RA member Irwin Flashman urged the board to make the search effort as transparent as possible, but the board later withdrew into executive session to privately discuss personnel and contractual manners.
RA hired Lynch as its CEO in December 2018. His last day in the position will be Sept. 3.
Multiple speakers at yesterday’s meeting wished him success in his next endeavor, and board president Caren Anton said the community was fortunate to have him, especially during a pandemic.
Much of the meeting, which lasted over two hours, consisted of the executive session, and the open portion largely involved the board debating aspects of the committee.
Points of disagreement included whether the search committee would involve the entire board, as many of the directors shared concerns that having every person of the nine-member board on the committee would be inefficient.
The board ultimately decided to only have four directors on the committee. How those people are chosen will be determined at a subsequent meeting to be held as soon as possible.
The final motion to create the committee came after directors presented a few other motions that failed to pass, including one to delay the issue because three board members — Tom Mulkerin, Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza, and Aaron Webb — were absent.
“Are we really saying that we want to punt this topic?” Director Jennifer Jushchuk said, expressing concerns about the limited time to act before Lynch leaves.
The board finally settled on creating the committee now before establishing conditions for developing it later.
Directors also discussed whether all board members would have access to candidates’ applications and whether to use a search firm.
RA’s budget will likely guide the search process, though costs weren’t discussed during the open portion of the meeting. Based on a tax form prepared in January 2021, Lynch’s compensation for the 2019 calendar year was $188,393, along with $21,912 in other compensation.
Director John Mooney, who serves as the board’s vice president, said over 100 applications were considered in the last CEO search, which lasted nine months.
Mooney’s approved motion to create the search committee also called for the committee to establish search criteria. The application screening process will receive input from the board.
Reston Association CEO Hank Lynch has resigned after roughly two-and-a-half years in the position, the organization announced in a news release on Friday (Aug. 6).
RA says Lynch told the board of directors last week that his last day will be Sept. 3 after he “accepted another opportunity.”
“We all wish Hank well in his new endeavors,” RA President Caren Anton said in a statement. “His leadership has been invaluable during his entire stay in Reston and especially during the trying times caused by the pandemic. Hank has provided a steady hand and brought new and innovative ideas to the table. He will be missed.”
Reston Now reached out to Lynch for further comment but did not hear back by press time.
Hired in December 2018, Lynch joined RA at a time of uncertainty for the association, which had been without a chief executive officer for nine months after his predecessor Cate Fulkerson abruptly stepped down on March 1 of that year and the acting CEO who filled in for her left a month later.
A former Norfolk resident with a background in horticulture, Lynch moved to Reston as an outsider in January 2019. His initial priorities included modernizing RA’s operations by using more data to make decisions and finding revenue sources outside of member assessments.
In its press release, RA points to IT security upgrades, fiscal stability, and improved customer service as highlights of Lynch’s tenure, along with efforts to improve lake management and covenants operations.
However, the association has hit its fair share of bumps in the road over the past couple of years, from a botched election rollout and other ongoing security concerns to algae blooms and a dispute with local boat owners.
Lynch drew some scrutiny last summer for pursuing a $1.3 million Paycheck Protection Program loan without consulting the Board of Directors in a formal meeting. The loan was later returned since RA didn’t actually qualify for it.
The RA Board of Directors will hold a special virtual meeting at noon on Wednesday (Aug. 11) to discuss the search process for a new CEO.
Tasks awaiting the new hire will include the 2022 budget — accompanied by debates over a possible assessment increase and the future of RA’s pools — as well as a laundry list of increasingly expensive capital projects.
Fairfax County Sees Uptick in Unemployment — “Unemployment rates across Fairfax County and Northern Virginia ticked back up above 4 percent in June…which likely is a return to more seasonal ups and downs than a retreat from gains made in the post-COVID era. With 595,420 county residents in the civilian workforce and 25,225 on the hunt for jobs, Fairfax County’s unemployment rate for June stood at 4.1 percent, according to figures reported July 28 by the Virginia Employment Commission.” [Sun Gazette]
Reports of Sick Birds in Virginia Declining — “After Virginia and other states began receiving reports of a mysterious illness sickening or killing birds in late May, reports are starting to go down. However, the cause of the birds’ illness and deaths remains unknown…From May 23 to June 30, the most reports have occurred in Fairfax and Arlington Counties, according to a map of reports.” [Patch]
Thousands of Job Seekers Used County Website — “Just over one year after the official launch of its workinnorthernvirginia.com website and accompanying talent initiative funded by the Fairfax County government, the site created by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) has logged more than 483,000 visitors and 72,000 job views. The website connects a new and diverse talent pool — in Northern Virginia and in key target markets such as the Bay Area and New York City — with companies in the region.” [FCEDA]
Dog Paddle Events Coming to Reston Pools — Reston Association’s annual Dog Paddle will return in August, giving pups a chance to play in its swimming pools. There will be three events in August and one in September. Registration is now open with a $12 fee for RA members and a $20 fee for non-members. [RA/Twitter]
Reston Association is putting together a five-year plan for capital improvement projects as a number of decades-old facilities are in need of upgrades.
At last week’s Board of Directors meeting, staff provided a draft that details the capital improvement projects facing the organization over the next five years.
In much the same vein as one put together by other localities like the town of Herndon, the document will detail the cost, timeline, and designs of both major projects — ones that will cost over $500,000 — and minor ones.
“It includes a strategic plan…how we currently fund our projects, what are the major projects, and outlines all capital spending,” RA Director of Capital Projects Chris Schumaker said.
While the draft was provided to board members, it is not expected to be made public until before the Board of Directors budget work session on Aug. 18, when it will be discussed more at length, confirms RA spokesperson Mike Leone.
The potential increase is being contemplated due to a rise in operating expenses and the number of capital improvement projects that are being undertaken over the next several years. Back in March, a recreation facility work group determined that some of RA’s decades-old facilities are in dire need of renovations and work.
There are currently eight active capital projects and another 30 that are scheduled, according to RA’s website.
The renovations will turn two tennis courts into pickleball courts, which are expected to be completed in time for Reston’s first “Paddle Battle” tournament. In addition, construction on four footbridges will start next month and be completed early next year, Leone tells Reston Now.
There’s also the much-discussed renovation of Lake Thoreau pool, which received final approval from RA’s design review board last week. Construction on the $3.5 million project is now supposed to start in November — a four-month delay from initial estimates — with a grand opening expected for May 2023.
While new pools may be opening, there’s a chance several may be closing.
In May, RA staff recommended that four neighborhood pools be “seriously considered for repurposing,” which could mean closure, due to budgetary concerns and low usage. RA is currently collecting community feedback on that proposal.