While the topic was not on the agenda of last week’s Reston Association Board of Directors meeting, Director Ray Wedell spoke for about 10 minutes in regard to a rumor that an email question-and-answer opportunity with Bozzuto was being set up by RA for members.
“To open the door in any manner for any member to directly confront Bozzuto or discuss with Bozzuto anything about this when we have on the table that we’re firmly opposed to this… would be a huge, huge, huge mistake,” Wedell said. “If I’m wrong, at least make the board vote on it to say that.”
CEO Cate Fulkerson said, contrary to the rumor, no email service for members to submit questions for Bozzuto has been created. She did say that in response to a member’s suggestion, there had been discussion about setting up a page on RA’s website for staff to answer member questions about Bozzuto’s proposal.
The most recent proposal for the redevelopment of St. Johns Wood called for two multifamily residential buildings totaling 467 units, along with 44 townhomes. Last year, the Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution stating it is firmly against the plan. A letter communicating such was sent to the county in September. Considering that, Wedell said, RA should not entertain any further discussion of the proposal.
“If we can’t kill this abomination, we’ll never kill anything,” Wedell said. “And there’s a hell of a lot of abominations coming, as we all know.”
Fulkerson reiterated to Wedell that no work has been done by her or staff to extend the conversation through a Q&A with Bozzuto.
“We have done nothing,” Fulkerson told him. “I want to make it very clear, no email Q&A has been set up [and] nothing has changed on the Association’s website.”
While the RA Board and concerned members have both expressed their displeasure with the proposal to Bozzuto, the property owner remains within its rights to propose the redevelopment. That could be approved by the county through waivers and exemptions to the Master Plan. The plan is scheduled to be reviewed again by the Fairfax County Planning Commission on May 25.
Tonight’s meeting of the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee to hear Bozzuto’s latest proposal is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
Arbor Day may not officially be until the end of April, but that didn’t stop volunteers in Reston from marking the event a little early.
Friday morning at the Old Trail Natural Area, 70 volunteers and Reston Association staff participated in the community’s an Arbor Day tree planting. The event was a collaboration between Volunteer Reston and the National Wildlife Federation.
According to volunteer supervisor Ha Brock, RA celebrates Arbor Day earlier in the spring so it can stand alone from other Earth Day festivities in the community.
“A big thank you to all our volunteers,” Brock said. “Our work would not be possible without the work of our dedicated volunteers.”
A video showcasing the morning’s work is available on the Volunteer Reston Facebook page.
It’s the first weekend of spring and the weather forecast is looking fantastic. Here are some ideas for how you can get out and enjoy yourself.
- Reston Association has an “open house” event slated for Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). Members are invited to come find out more about what RA has to offer.
- Islamic Relief USA’s “Skate for Syria” is tonight from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at SkateQuest (1800 Michael Faraday Court). Tickets are available online for $12; they will be $15 at the door. Proceeds from the fundraiser support Syrian Humanitarian Aid.
- Reston Town Center is hosting “Family Fun Saturdays” throughout March to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston. This week’s schedule features mini train rides, caricature and balloon artists, free “sweet treats” and more. The event will go from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
- Other events at Reston Town Center this weekend include an art workshop at Greater Reston Arts Center, a cooking class at Il Fornaio, cupcake-making demonstrations at Williams-Sonoma and live music at World of Beer.
- ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) will host its Best of FAVS showcase from 7-9:30 p.m. tonight. The event showcases several films from George Mason University’s Film and Video Studies program. There will be a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers as well. Tickets are $20.
- There will be a community rummage sale Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Berthold Academy (11480 Sunset Hills Road). Proceeds from the event will go toward class trips for students.
- Reston Community Players’ will put on “Rock of Ages” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., as well as Sunday at 2 p.m. at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Tickets for each performance of the show, which will run through April 1, are $25.
- Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.) will host storytime with author Anne Marie Stephens on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
- The Diva Central prom dress giveaway will be Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at the Lake Anne location (1609A Washington Plaza N.) of Reston Community Center. The giveaway is open to any current middle school and high school student who is in need of a formal dress, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.
- An all-ages nature workshop involving spring bulb containers will happen at Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive) from 2-3 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $7 for RA members and $9 for non-members.
- The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Greater Washington will present its Suite Serenade at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive).
- There will be a free Montessori music class and information session at Herndon Community Center (814 Ferndale Ave.) from 6-8 p.m. Sunday. Parents are invited to learn about Little Oaks Montessori Academy.
- Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will have its YA Book Club on Sunday at 2 p.m.
- Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., from Throwing Plates. DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits Saturday night.
Discussion got heated Thursday night at Reston Association Headquarters during talk about a potential future project at Hook Road Recreation Area.
The park was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated last year. The idea is to take a facility that has pieces of replacement work in the plans in the capital reserve study and, instead, doing comprehensive work to upgrade the facility all at once.
The Hook Road park was chosen by PRAC as a “pilot” project for the full-facility enhancement plan, said RA capital improvements director Garrett Skinner, because it has a number of amenities all in one place and hasn’t been substantially upgraded for more than 40 years.
“For the capital department, this is also a great pilot to really use and demonstrate all of the new policies and procedures we’re putting into place for project management, for communications, for engagement with not only these departments within the Association, but all of the committees and work groups as well,” he said.
Director Ray Wedell, who said he lived near the park for seven years, took exception to the plan to upgrade the facility. During an animated speech, he said it is “an excellent field as it sits” and “what Reston should represent.”
“For the life of me, I have no idea what you people are going to propose to change it,” he said. “[People who live near the park] are quite content with how it is right now.”
The plan as proposed by staff was to advertise a public information session for next month to determine what the community would like to see changed at the park. Concerns about parking and restroom facilities are among those floated in the plan. CEO Cate Fulkerson and Skinner, though, said the community would have the final say through its input on what — if anything — would be done.
“The capital department isn’t going into this project suggesting any solutions, any removal of anything or the addition of anything,” Skinner said. “The question will be up to the community: ‘Do you want anything at all and, if so, what?’ We can [then] determine going forward what that could look like.”
Hook Road Recreation Area has about $122,000 in as-is maintenance expenditures scheduled through 2020, Fulkerson said.
“We can stop [this proposal] now, it’s entirely up to you,” she said. “But according to the reserve study, I’m supposed to be doing stuff at this facility between 2016 and 2020.”
The vote was not unanimous, but the Reston Association Board of Directors decided Thursday to begin working toward a plan of action to adopt the recommendations in StoneTurn Group’s review of the Tetra/Lake House purchase.
Following a public meeting on the issue Monday, it was proposed Thursday that CEO Cate Fulkerson and her staff draft and develop the implementation plan for board consideration at their May meeting. The plan is to take into account the recommendations in StoneTurn’s report as well as all input received from the community at Monday’s meeting, and it is to be designed to have all recommendations ready to be implemented by September.
“It is to share with us what needs to be done, even shifting some of [Fulkerson’s] goals down the road in order to make implementation of the recommendations from StoneTurn an absolute priority,” said Director Michael Sanio, the board’s vice president and a member of RA’s Tetra Review Committee.
The recommendations made by StoneTurn include the drafting of new foundational documents that have an overreaching principle statement to define ethical concerns that may arise during transactions such as the Tetra/Lake House purchase and renovation.
The September deadline was an issue of contention for Director Sherri Hebert, who said the timeline seemed too tight for the amount of work that needs to be done. In addition, she said, the creation of a task force and a community review group should be part of the remediation process.
“[They need to have] an oversight role to make sure that these things are getting done,” she said of the recommendations. “We’re trying to build that trust back with the community, and the community needs to be involved in this implementation.”
Director Ray Wedell said the creation of the task force should be done “immediately.” Other directors stated that if a task force is to be created, it should be the decision of the incoming board in April, after the election. Four new members will be a part of the nine-person board.
Fulkerson said the Board of Directors will have funding issues to consider during the implementation process, as well.
“There is a lot of it staff can do, but there are some things where I’m going to need outside expertise,” she said. “That’s going to cost you money, and you’re going to have to take that up and decide if that’s what you want to do.”
The motion passed by a vote of 5-3, with Hebert, Wedell and Lucinda Shannon voting against it. Director Jeff Thomas was not present.
Meeting screencap via RA/YouTube
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been granted permission to continue work on expanding the parking lot at its Poplar Grove Drive facility.
The decision to re-approve the church’s expired permit through July was given by the Design Review Board during their Tuesday meeting. The permit had originally been granted by DRB in 2014, with work to be completed by February 2016.
Both then and now, residents of neighboring Birchfield Woods Cluster have expressed their displeasure with the project, with concerns including potential decreases of property value, impact to wildlife, and the loss of a “buffer zone” between the church and the community. DRB members heard their statements during Tuesday’s meeting.
“We did go through all of those topics originally, and it’s always a balance when you’re trying to make decisions about this,” said DRB chair John Kauppila. “On any application, there’s always some challenges that we have to work through and try to find compromise, and it’s tough.”
The church had originally applied to add 51 spaces to the property. During the approval process in 2014, that number was whittled down to 39. The number of trees to be removed was also changed, and the church is being required to plant replacement trees and shrubs. Church representatives said a landscape bond is being held by Fairfax County, and it will not be released until an inspection of that work has been completed.
The project was delayed during the Fairfax County permitting process, church representatives said, which resulted in the permit expiring. Birchfield Woods residents also said they would like to see the church punished for conducting work on the project in December 2016, after the original permit had expired. That work was halted after residents filed a complaint with RA staff.
Nick Georgas, DRB’s landscape architect member, said the delay was punishment in itself.
“I think their penalty is having to demobilize the site for a significant time, at cost to the developer and the church,” he said. “I think they’ve been penalized through that effort [for] lack of paying attention to the permits.”
Chip Boyd, Birchfield Woods Cluster president, remains concerned that a traffic study has not been completed on the entrance to the community and church — a single entrance from Lake Newport Road.
“We have a lot of issues with cars not following traffic patterns there,” he said. “If we’re adding 39 more cars that are going to be involved in that situation, I didn’t see as part of this a traffic review study.”
Any such study would be under the purview of Fairfax County, Kauppila said.
Reminder: RA Board Meeting Tonight — The Reston Association Board of Directors meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The meeting will also be streamed live on RA’s YouTube channel. [Reston Now]
SLHS Students Attend Science Symposium — South Lakes High International Baccalaureate chemistry students recently attended the event at Georgetown University, sitting in on seminars and hearing talks from experts. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Warm Weather Once Again on the Horizon — We were spoiled by temperatures in the 70s in February and early March before winter came back for one more round. The thermometer is on the rise again, though, and it is expected to top that 70 mark again Saturday. [Capital Weather Gang]
Longtime Herndon Town Manager Honored for Work — Arthur Anselene retired from his position as Herndon town manager last month. His more than 40 years of service to the town was honored at the town council’s meeting last week. [Reston Connection]
Police Seek Ashburn Assault Suspect — Police in Loudoun County are looking for a man who is believed to have assaulted a woman in an Ashburn parking lot last week. [Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office]
Reston Association is welcoming new — and “not-so-new” — members to an open house to learn more about what the community has to offer.
The event will be held Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.).
According to a flier advertising the event, attendees will be able to:
- learn about aquatics, camps, environmental education and tennis programs
- learn about upcoming RA events for all ages
- meet members of the RA Board of Directors and advisory committee
- purchase pool and tennis passes and learn how to use WebTrac
- learn about how to get involved in Volunteer Reston
- vote in the RA Board of Directors’ election
- meet with the Covenants Advisor and learn about services provided to property owners
- meet local elected officials and community organization representatives
Refreshments will be provided by Jersey Mike’s, and door prizes will be awarded.
RA’s event calendar shows additional open house events at The Lake House are scheduled for April 30 and May 21.
Attendees are being asked to used WebTrac to register for the event. For more information, email [email protected] or call 703-435-6530.
The results of an independent review of Reston Association’s purchase of the Tetra/Lake House property are in, and now the discussion is shifting toward how to make best use of its findings.
That discussion began Monday during a special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors. Deirdre Flaherty, partner and co-founder of forensic accounting firm StoneTurn Group, answered questions from both RA members and directors during the session, and offered her advice for RA’s remediation process following the controversial purchase and a renovation process that cost $430,000 more than budgeted.
Flaherty’s advice, which built upon the recommendations offered in StoneTurn’s review in February, included the drafting of foundational documents that have an overreaching principle statement to define ethical concerns — something she says is lacking in RA’s current policy structure.
“When you have an unusual transaction and you don’t have that bedrock foundation, there’s no touchstone,” she said. “It would be my strong suggestion that great consideration is given to what those overarching principles that you want for how you do business, and then take that and drill it into writing, into practical policies and procedures for the staff, that details exactly what is to be done.”
The Board of Directors voted unanimously to accept the review delivered by StoneTurn and to begin working toward implementing the recommendations made therein. Flaherty made a number of other recommendations for how to do so, including giving staff and CEO Cate Fulkerson the time to develop new policies that are in line with the goals of the Association.
“You have some very strong, qualified people in your Association staff [who are] doing a lot of the day-to-day work, and as a result, they haven’t had the opportunity to step back and put those foundational documents into place,” she said. “My strong advice would be to have them do it — to hire people, even on a temporary basis, to handle some of your day-to-day operations so that you can elevate people like your CFO or your new head of capital projects [or] Cate to actually stepping back and giving thought and consideration to what those documents should look like, to having the communications with the membership and the board to make sure you’re comfortable with them, and then to putting them in place.”
It was also suggested by Flaherty that an RA audit committee be formed to independently make findings and assess staff.
“Anytime you have a board, you want the board to be communicating with the auditor [and] you want the auditor to have the ability to communicate with the board to the extent that they have input that is independent of management,” she said. “You want that communication to be open and direct with your board, not filtered in any way.”
At its meeting tonight, the Design Review Board will consider the renewal of a permit to expand the parking lot at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (1515 Poplar Grove Drive).
The church, located near the intersection of Fairfax County Parkway and Lake Newport Road, was given permission by DRB in 2014 to expand the lot. The work was not completed immediately afterward, however, which has resulted in the expiration of the church’s permit.
Residents of Birchfield Woods Cluster on Poplar Grove Drive have continued to express their opposition to the project, which would add 39 parking spaces to the southern end of church property. Residents are concerned about, among other issues, an increase in noise and a loss of trees that create a “buffer zone” between the church and the community. That will have an adverse effect on their property values, they say.
“The only way into and out of the Cluster is via the entrance off of Lake Newport Road, [and] that entrance is the first impression potential buyers receive of our community,” said Marcelo Borda, vice president of the cluster association, in a letter shared with Reston Now. “The planned parking lot expansion proposed by the Church directly, negatively impacts that first impression.”
Other agenda items for tonight’s DRB meeting include site grading for the Glade Drive sidewalk project, the site lighting and landscape plan for the IntegraCare facility at 2222 Colts Neck Road, and a tear-down project on Ring Road.
The DRB meeting will begin tonight at 7 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).
Map via Google
The Reston Association Board of Directors at their regular meeting Thursday will hear a presentation regarding a potential project at the Hook Road Recreation Area.
The recreation area, which features a baseball field along with tennis and basketball facilities, is located off Fairway Drive, just north of Hidden Creek Golf Course. According to information provided in the agenda for the meeting, it has remained relatively unchanged since 1973.
The Hook Road park was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated last year. “Full-facility enhancement” is part of the new capital project methodology that was adopted by the RA board in 2016, according to the information provided.
“This methodology focuses on the revitalization of facilities as a singular unit instead of the periodic replacement of individual components of the site. The former methodology looked at facilities on an amenity-by-amenity basis spread out over several years. The thrust of the Full Facility approach is to improve RA facilities in a comprehensive and holistic manner to create a greater visual impact and maximize value for the membership.”
In December, the Board of Directors allocated $50,000 to fund the initial design concept of the enhancement of the Hook Road Recreation Area. According to information provided, the project’s scope would be to do the following:
- Enhance the use of Hook Road Recreation Area through facility renovations and improvements including but not limited to parking solutions, restroom facility additions and evaluation of existing amenities
- Improve landscaping and hardscaping
- Increase ADA accessibility
The board materials for Thursday’s meeting also indicate that an improved effort to engage members in the process will be undertaken.
“It is important that the Board and staff take into account lessons learned from recent events. A popular criticism the Board received from members regarding the Lake Newport Soccer Proposal was the lack of notice and failure to engage the residents directly adjacent to the site early in the process. Accordingly, during its meeting on February 23, 2017, the Board directed staff to develop an improved member notification process to gather community input when considering major recreation amenity proposals.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the board will consider holding a public information session on the Hook Road project April 26, with notice of the meeting to be sent out March 30. A call will be put out for volunteers to serve on a working group of RA members, first focusing on neighborhood representation, to receive input on facility and site improvements.
The tentative timeline for the project sees it coming before the board for budget approval in October.
Other items on the agenda for the meeting include:
- the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee’s 2017 work plan
- pedestrian lighting recommendations from the Environmental Advisory Committee
- the revised Code of Ethics project plan and proposed amendments to the CEO performance appraisal process
- proposed amendments to the Pool & Tennis Use/Access Policy
The meeting will be held Thursday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). It will also be streamed live on RA’s YouTube channel.
Map via Google Maps
Reminder: RA Board Special Meeting Tonight — The special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors originally scheduled for March 14 will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the findings in StoneTurn Group’s review of Reston Association’s purchase of the Tetra/Lake House property and the subsequent overruns in the cost of its renovation. [Reston Association]
New Town Center Restaurant Seeks Employees — Hen Penny is the newest restaurant by Pheast Food Group, a subsidiary of Thompson Hospitality. Management says it is planning to open March 30 at 1820 Discovery St., the former home of Pheast’s BRB. The business is looking to hire cashiers, delivery drivers, cooks and more. [Pheast Food Group]
St. Johns Wood Redevelopment Again on Agenda — The Reston Planning & Zoning Committee will have an informational meeting March 27 at 7:30 p.m. on Bozzuto’s planned redevelopment of St. Johns Wood. [Reston Planning & Zoning Committee]
SLHS Grad’s Team Falls in NCAA Tournament — Princess Aghayere, South Lakes High School Class of 2015, played 12 minutes for the University of Pennsylvania Quakers in their NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament first-round game Saturday against Texas A&M. Penn led by 21 points early in the fourth quarter; however, Texas A&M staged the biggest comeback in women’s tournament history and came out victorious, 63-61. Aghayere scored 2 points and recorded 2 rebounds. [Penn Athletics]
Students Named to All-State Band, Orchestra — The All-Virginia High School Band and Orchestra will both perform April 8 in Manassas. Among the performers will be 77 students from Fairfax County, including several local students. On the All-State Band are Catie George and Mason Moy (South Lakes High School); and Nathan Coughlin, Noah McKee and Emma Rood (Herndon High School). Members of the All-State Orchestra include Herndon High’s James Adams and Ethan Morad. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Photo via @FunInFairfax on Instagram
As part of the effort to keep everyone safe, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program is offering revelers free rides (up to a $20 value) through its SoberRide campaign. The program is open to everyone throughout the Washington region through 4 a.m. Saturday.
To get the free ride, use the Lyft app and enter the promo code SOBERRIDE.
Partying or not, though, there will be plenty of things to do in the Reston area this weekend. Here are just some of the options available.
- The Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) will host its annual spring flea market Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The free event is available to residents of all ages. For more information, call 703-476-4500.
- The fourth annual Maker Faire NoVa is Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School. Tickets at the door will be $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $5 for children. Family packs of five tickets will be $40.
- Teen job fairs and resume-building workshops will be offered Saturday by Fairfax County at Chantilly High School (4201 Stringfellow Road) from 10 a.m. to noon, and at Oakton High School (2900 Sutton Road, Vienna) from 1-3 p.m.
- Reston Town Center is hosting “Family Fun Saturdays” throughout March to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston. This week’s schedule features horse-drawn carriage rides, free funnel cakes and a performance by the McGrath Academy of Irish Dance. The event will go from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
- The opening reception of Greater Reston Arts Center’s “Emerging Visions” exhibit is set for 6-8 p.m. Saturday. The show features curated works of art created by Fairfax County students from South Lakes, Herndon and Oakton high schools, and it will be on display through April 1.
- The Social Justice & Peace Conference will be Saturday from 12:30-6 p.m. at United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive). The free event will include workshops on how people from different religious backgrounds can support immigrants, the trans community, environmental justice and more.
- A bird walk at Sunrise Valley Wetlands and Polo Fields will be offered from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday. Check out Reston Association’s WebTrac for more information.
- Reston Community Players’ will put on “Rock of Ages” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., as well as Sunday at 2 p.m. at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). Use the password “St. Paddy’s” when purchasing tickets for tonight’s show by phone or in person to get them for $10. Regular tickets for each performance of the show, which will run through April 1, are $25.
- A Kennedy Center Production of “From the Mouths of Monsters” will be performed at Herndon High School (700 Bennett St.) tonight at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and children.
- Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will be visited by Frying Pan Farm Park on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, featuring animal education, stories and crafts. For adults, the lecture series on World War I will continue at 2 p.m. Sunday.
- Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight for St. Patrick’s Day, with Mark Scott from 4-8 p.m. followed by Sam Gunderson from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
- ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) will have the opening reception for its exhibit “There’s No Place Like Home,” by members of the Great Falls Studios, from 3-5 p.m. Sunday. The show will be on display through April 8.
- The Reston Town Center Singles Meetup group has an event scheduled for tonight at Ned Devine’s Irish Bar & Restaurant (2465 Centreville Road, Herndon). Shake 3X will perform at the restaurant from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
(Edited 4:15 p.m. after meeting agenda was posted on RA website)
A special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors that had been scheduled for tonight has been postponed due to weather.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the findings in StoneTurn Group’s review of Reston Association’s purchase of the Tetra/Lake House property and the subsequent overruns in the cost of its renovation. The special meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m.
The agenda for Monday’s special meeting includes a 20-minute overview of the report and 90 minutes of discussion between the community and the board about its contents, followed by board consideration.
Tonight’s meeting of the Design Review Board has also been shelved, according to Mike Leone, RA’s communications director.
“With the threat of refreezing roads and sidewalks later today, along with increased wind, RA has decided to cancel all meetings for this evening,” he said.
Community group Reston 20/20 is calling for an independent committee of RA members to be formed to delve deeper into the circumstances surround Reston Association’s controversial Tetra/Lake House deal.
According to Reston 20/20’s recommendation, the committee should be formed after the board’s elections have completed in April. At that time, four new members will join the nine-person board.
“In light of the fact that the current Board majority was immersed in all the events described here and in StoneTurn’s report, it has no credibility in conducting any further actions on Tetra,” said Terry Maynard, co-chair of Reston 20/20. “The new RA Board, installed next month with a majority not involved in Tetra, should tackle the issues we raise here and any others it finds in a deep dive effort by a committee of Restonians.”
The majority of which Maynard speaks will be made up of the four new members plus director Sherri Hebert (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks District) who was elected in 2016, following the conclusion of the transaction and renovations. Hebert has also recently called for more community involvement in the analysis of the report. (Two other continuing board members, Julie Bitzer and Ray Wedell, were elected in April 2015 — after the purchase proposal had been drawn up and scheduled for referendum, which passed with 53 percent of the vote in May 2015.)
In its analysis, Reston 20/20 says StoneTurn’s report provides “important new information on the timeline of actions leading to the excessive price paid for the property and its huge repair costs,” which it says is “a vital first step in understanding fully what transpired in this unfortunate venture for RA and its members.” The analysis goes on to ask numerous followup questions, many related to personal responsibility for decisions made during the process, including:
- “Did RA agree on the price prior to Board approval in January 2015? If so, why? Who made that decision and why?”
- “Who altered the appraisal instructions to assume Tetra was in good repair and the hypothetical restaurant use was large and extended into the lake?”
- “Why wasn’t conflict of interest specifically discussed in the StoneTurn report?”
Reston 20/20 says it wants the citizens’ committee to have “unlimited access to all RA records relating to Tetra; the authority to interview RA employees, contractors and others with possible knowledge about Tetra; and the authority to request records from contractors who worked [with] RA on the Tetra purchase and renovation.”
A group of Reston Association members, working under the name Mediaworld Ventures LLC, had been selected in September 2016 by the Board of Directors to complete a review of the purchase and cost overrun at a cost of $1. The parties could not agree on the terms of a contract, however, and negotiations were terminated in January. The board agreed later that month to have StoneTurn complete the review at a cost of $45,000.
StoneTurn’s review provided 15 recommendations to the RA board for how to avoid a similar situation from happening in the future. Reston 20/20 members say without rooting out more specifics of the transaction, changes to procedure may have minimal effect.
“We believe it is vital to understand the full details of what transpired, including identifying any violations of policy, procedure or the law and the persons involved in those activities. If we do not dig out these details, RA runs a serious risk of repeating many of the same errors in the future no matter what process changes are added.”
The RA Board of Directors has a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. (weather-permitting) to discuss the results of StoneTurn’s report and the recommendations for the board that were provided within.