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by Dave Emke — June 23, 2017 at 10:15 am 45 Comments

(This article was updated at 1:15 p.m. after Ganesan confirmed to Reston Now that he is stepping down from his role as Reston Citizens Association president.)

Eschewing recent precedent, the Reston Association Board of Directors decided Thursday evening to directly appoint a replacement to a vacant At-Large seat.

Sridhar Ganesan, who had been named the Board’s treasurer last month, was selected to fill the seat vacated by Eve Thompson earlier this month. Ganesan will occupy the position until next spring, at which time the final year of the term will be voted upon by members in the Board election.

In at least the last three instances when a seat was vacated mid-term, a call for candidates was posted and members of the community were able to put their hats in the ring. Ray Wedell, At-Large director, presented to the board that they should choose between Ganesan and Ven Iyer, who finished a close runner-up to Eric Carr in the most recent At-Large election. He said Ganesan and Iyer were clearly the top two candidates and that opening it up to the community would only create the opportunity for more controversy.

“The idea that we have some great candidate out there and there’s an open competition — it’s not. It’s a way to bring somebody who could a good resume writer, a good interviewer, who knows somebody else on the board, to slip in without running for the office,” Wedell said. “This [would be] potentially opening it up to some charges of cronyism and everything else. We don’t need that.”

Not everyone agreed with Wedell’s assessment. John Mooney, North Point District director, said consistency with recent past practice should be followed by the Board.

“It’s unlikely that people would come forward who would be a surprise, but it is possible,” Mooney said. “I don’t believe that as we strive for openness and asking the community to participate that we should foreclose that possibility.”

President Sherri Hebert said that as the Board is in the middle of crafting its biennial budget, filling the position as quickly as possible was preferable.

“We’re telling you what we want to do and why we want to do it, and that’s about as open and transparent [as we can be],” she said. “Whether people in the community agree or disagree, that’s always going to be [the case].”

Julie Bitzer, South Lakes District director, pointed out that the Board has no budget sessions planned between now and their July meeting.

“Bringing someone on tonight [as opposed to waiting until July] would make basically no difference in our ability to move forward with our budget and our discussions,” she said.

Hebert responded by saying there is budget work going on “behind the scenes,” and she believes there “could be a gap” if the Board continued for a month or two with a vacant seat.

A motion to put Ganesan and Iyer up for an immediate vote to fill the seat carried by a narrow 4-3 margin. Hebert, Wedell, Carr and David Bobzien voted for it; Mooney, Bitzer and Victoria White voted against it. (At-Large Director Michael Sanio was not present at the meeting.)

Ganesan was then elected to the Board by a vote of 6-1, with Wedell casting the lone vote for Iyer. In addition to his work with the Board, Ganesan is also a chief financial officer with over 20 years of experience in media, technology, satellite and telecom sectors. He also led Mediaworld Ventures LLC in its efforts to review the Lake House purchase.

He was the president of the Reston Citizens Association; however, he told Reston Now on Friday morning that he has withdrawn from that role.

“A new RCA board will sit next week on June 26, 2017 and it is the right time to step away and given RA’s budget cycle, I plan to focus on my role as Treasurer and At-Large Director. This morning, I have withdrawn myself from the North Point district seat on RCA’s new board and there will be a new president for RCA on Monday.”

The RA Board’s discussion of the appointment can be viewed on the Reston Association YouTube channel.

Photo via Reston Association

by Katherine Berko — June 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm 41 Comments

Following the resignation of Eve Thompson earlier this month, the Reston Association Board of Directors has a decision to make.

At their meeting Thursday, directors will discuss how to move forward. Thompson, who had served on the board since 2013 and was voted to an At-Large seat in 2016, announced her decision to step down June 6.

Thompson’s vacated term doesn’t expire until April 2019. This means the board has three options:

  • Do nothing. If this option is selected, the seat will remain vacant until next year’s RA Board election.
  • Appoint a member in good standing. If this option is selected, the eight remaining members of the board would decide among themselves who to put into the seat immediately.
  • Issue a call for candidates. If this option is selected, the position will be posted by RA within 24 hours, and qualified applicants will appear before the Board at its July meeting.

Staff has recommended the Board fill the position rather than leave it vacant for nine months. If a new director is selected, he or she will serve through April 2018. The final year of the term will be voted upon in next year’s election.

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.

by Katherine Berko — June 20, 2017 at 11:30 am 22 Comments

At its meeting Thursday (view agenda), the Reston Association Board of Directors will hold public hearings on a hunting request and a pipeline easement.

In 2014, the Board voted to allow residents of Sourwood Lane to hire a hunting service to help control the deer population in the area. Clearance to hunt was provided for three years, and now residents of 11624, 11626 and 11632 Sourwood Lane are asking for three more.

According to applicants Larry and Jan Gsellman, Rodney Jones, and James and Margo Sterling:

“During the first permit that ends in August 2017 a total of approximately 14 deer were removed from the two herds that had traveled our property. In spite of this we continue to see significant damage to plantings. The purpose of the renewal of the hunt is to continue reducing the deer population in and around our properties [to] a level that is sustainable.”

The applicants say they want to curb the spread of tick-borne Lyme disease and stop devastation of vegetation in the area. Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia would conduct the hunts, as it has in previous years.

A notification letter was sent out to residents in the area. Four responded with messages of approval, including one that said “deer sightings in the neighborhood have fallen off significantly [since 2014], and I feel sure the program has reduced the local risks of disease and potential traffic accidents.” Two responded negatively, including one who expressed fears about the danger of hunting to people, pets, structures and vehicles in the immediate area.

Any hunting would have to take place at least 50 yards from an occupied residence, with the exception of the requesting lot owners’ residences, and 50 yards away from any street, sidewalk, trail, pathway, bus stop, playground or other public place.

The other public hearing on the meeting’s agenda is a request from Williams/Transco Pipeline for an exclusive easement and right of way over a Reston Association common area. The area of interest is located off North Shore Drive, next to RA’s Golf Course Island plot. The discussion about this request began in the fall of 2016 and remains unresolved.

Williams/Transco currently has a 135-foot-wide easement to their pipelines, but they are requesting more easement so they can add additional equipment, such as valves. If this request is granted, Williams/Transco will have exclusive access to the allotted parcel of land.

During a board meeting on May 25, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to continue negotiating with Williams/Transco and to hold a public hearing at their next meeting on June 22. A panel of the Design Review Board approved a site plan submitted by Williams/Transco, with the exception of a few enhancements which Williams/Transco agreed to change.

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.

Maps via Reston Association

by Katherine Berko — June 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Reston Association is searching for members of the community to volunteer for a number of committees.

Members are needed for the Covenants Committee, Fiscal Committee and Elections Committee, as well as the Design Review Board. Residents appointed to a committee must serve for three years, unless otherwise stated.

The Covenants Committee oversees property values by ensuring that their physical appearances are properly maintained. The committee does this with the help of the Use and Maintenance Covenants, which are outlined in the Reston Deed of Dedication. According to RA, the covenants “were developed, in part, to ensure that properties are kept in good repair, acceptable in appearance and substantially similar to their original condition. The covenants require that the property, and any improvement or alteration, be kept in good condition so that it does not have a detrimental or adverse effect on other properties in the community.”

RA members who live in the Hunter Woods/Dogwood district are encouraged to apply for this committee.

The Fiscal Committee is responsible for RA’s monthly financials, draft budgets and annual audits. According to RA, it “advises the Board of Directors on the sound fiscal management of Reston Association’s resources.” People with financial backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply.

The Elections Committee is primarily in charge of the annual Board of Directors elections, when three board members are elected each  spring. Members of this committee do not meet as regularly as other committee members.

The Design Review Board is in charge of supervising the exterior alterations made to properties in Reston. Members use the Reston Association’s Design Guidelines when inspecting the various properties. There is one current opening on the DRB, for a 20-month term through March 2019.

Anyone interested in a position must apply by July 14 at 5 p.m.

by Dave Emke — June 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Colts Neck Tennis Courts Closed — Drainage work and resurfacing at the courts will have them closed for about a month. [Reston Association/Twitter]

More Work on Toll Road This Weekend — Overnight work is planned tonight through Monday between Fairfax County Parkway and Reston Parkway, as crews continue construction of the Reston Town Center Metrorail station in the median of the Dulles Access Highway. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Free Smoothie for National Flip Flop Day — Tropical Smoothie Café (11684 Plaza America Drive) is giving a free Sunshine Smoothie to anyone who comes in wearing flip flops between 2 and 7 p.m. today. Blaire from “The Jack Diamond Morning Show” will be there as well. [Mix 107.3/Twitter]

Teen Star Talks About Growing Up in RestonJacob Sartorius says he faced a lot of bullying in school. The 14-year-old is becoming a sensation, though, with 14 million followers on the app Musical.ly, 7 million followers on Instagram and more than 2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. [Asbury Park Press]

by Dave Emke — June 15, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

RA Slates Community Meeting — As a follow-up to the recently held district meetings, Reston Association will host a community-wide meeting for residents at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 28 at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). Feedback from the four prior meetings will be discussed. [Reston Association]

Open At-Large Seat on School Board — A special election will be held Tuesday, Aug. 29, to fill a vacancy on the Fairfax County School Board. The At-Large seat, vacated by Jeannette Hough last month, has a remaining term through Jan. 1, 2020. The filing deadline for prospective candidates is Friday, June 30. [Fairfax County Office of Elections]

Update in Substitute Teacher Solicitation Case — John Torre, public information officer for Fairfax County Public Schools, told Reston Now that a man charged earlier this week with soliciting a young girl for sex worked as a substitute teacher for FCPS for four days at two schools, and he is no longer a FCPS employee. The alleged solicitation did not involve any FCPS students, Torre added. [Reston Now]

by Brooke Giles — June 14, 2017 at 4:15 pm 2 Comments

Over 80 Deloitte employees worked June 9 to revitalize Lake Newport Pool.

The volunteers replaced benches inside the facility, removed invasive plants around the entry of the pool, and landscaped. The work was part of the professional services firm’s Impact Day, which involves projects around the world in efforts to show their commitment to the local communities around their offices.

“Without their help, it usually staff takes a week or two, even months, to complete these projects,” said Ha Brock, Reston Association volunteer coordinator.

The event was captured through the hashtag #ImpactThatMatters on social media.

Brock says there are many ways to contribute to important work being done around Reston throughout the year, through programs like Reston’s Habitat Heroes. The group works from March through November removing invasive plants from wildlife.

Habitat Heroes meets every fourth Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon. The next event is Saturday, June 24 at South Lakes High School.

Images via Volunteer Reston on Facebook

by Dave Emke — June 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm 5 Comments

Input from community members on the Reston Association budget for FY2018-19 can still be submitted through June 30.

Numerous members, however, have already submitted suggestions that have been made public on the RA website. Some of the more prevalent suggestions that have been made so far include:

  • the need to dredge Lake Thoreau on schedule, which residents of the Lakewinds Cluster say needs to be “treated as a mandatory obligation, not as a discretionary matter subject to the vagaries of the RA annual budget process.”
  • restoration of pool hours, which one resident said should involve “expanding or getting more creative with recruiting efforts [of lifeguards] instead of giving up and cutting schedule entirely.”
  • the addition of permanent bathrooms at Hook Road Recreation Area and at other tennis courts, which several residents say is especially necessary for older users of the courts.
  • considering stopping maintenance of the grass in street medians, which former Board of Directors member Lucinda Shannon said “is the county’s responsibility and most of us don’t think they need to be mowed all the time.”

Check out the full list of member suggestions so far at the Reston Association website.

According to the Board of Directors’ budget development calendar, the board will hear a presentation on the survey results from Community Engagement Advisory Committee at the July 27 meeting. Budget workshops will follow in August and September, with public hearings in October and the budget to be approved in November.

by Dave Emke — June 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm 8 Comments

Inquiries from a pair of candidates who came up short in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election did not turn up any “voting irregularities,” RA’s Elections Committee says.

At Monday’s Board Operations Committee meeting, Elections Committee chair Ed Robichaud presented findings from an analysis of the 2017 RA Board election and its administrative procedures. Among the issues addressed were requests for voter data from Ven Iyer and Arlene Krieger, the runners-up in the At-Large and North Point District races.

According to Robichaud’s report, Iyer and Krieger requested information regarding the IP addresses and time stamps for online voting on April 3, which was the last day of voting. Iyer spoke during the member-comment portion of the May 25 Board of Directors meeting to explain his concerns, which regarded the way Reston Association handles the voting process.

“Did you know that anyone can contact RA claiming that they lost their paper or email ballot, and RA will provide them with a username and password to vote?” Iyer said. “It is easy for an entity to spoof several identities to collect usernames and passwords, and then on the final day, bulk vote for a favorable outcome.”

Iyer finished second in a six-candidate race for the At-Large seat, 117 votes behind Eric Carr in a race that saw 8,534 votes counted. Krieger was defeated by John Mooney by a vote of 1,384 votes to 1,069.

The Elections Committee agreed there was a higher-than-normal voter turnout on the day in question, but attributed it to a direct email reminder to voters that was sent that day. The committee did, however, agree to request the information from Intelliscan Inc., RA’s appointed counting agent for the election.

While Intelliscan does not capture IP addresses, it was able to provide time stamps of votes cast throughout the entire voting period. The Elections Committee reviewed the data and determined:

“The April 3 volume and timing of voting is consistent with other dates when reminder emails were sent. At the conclusion of its due diligence, the Elections Committee has determined that there is no credible evidence of online voting irregularities.”

In regard to the possible loophole Iyer mentioned, the Elections Committee is asking the Board to consider an amendment to the Elections and Referenda Resolutions. The new code would read that “[b]efore issuing a replacement paper ballot or the username and password to an electronic ballot, the Assistant Secretary shall verify the identity of the Member using one or more identity verification questions including but not limited to their property’s development name, RA voting District, and/or billing and correspondence addresses on file with the Association.”

Graph via Reston Association Elections Committee

by Dave Emke — June 9, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Good news for swimmers: After being out of action last weekend, Lake Audubon Pool will re-open Saturday.

Mike Leone, Reston Association communications director, says Dominion Energy has finished its work to repair damage to a drainage pipe caused by a subcontractor. The damage was caused when the worker was digging a trench between junction boxes, said Laura Kowalski, Reston Association’s deputy director for recreation.

“Lake Audubon Pool has been repaired and will open [Saturday] on its regular schedule,” Leone said Friday morning. “Dominion Energy and their contractors repaired the damage and the bathhouse will be cleaned and sanitized today so it’s ready for member use tomorrow.”

The problem was first discovered when standing water was found in the bathhouse last week. A blockage in the drainage pipe was later cleared by Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service, but a crack in the pipe was found that forced the pool to be closed until repairs were completed.

The work was done at no cost to Reston Association, Leone said.

The pool will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

by Dave Emke — June 6, 2017 at 5:00 pm 3 Comments

Lake Audubon Pool was closed last weekend, and it remains unknown when it will again be available for fun in the sun.

A broken drainage pipe discovered last week resulted in the facility being shut down until further notice. Laura Kowalski, Reston Association’s deputy director for recreation, says a subcontractor of Dominion Energy caused the damage while digging a trench between junction boxes.

“Dominion is working toward getting that piece remedied, so that we can open the facility,” Kowalski said, adding that recent rain will likely delay the effort.

The Lake Audubon Swim Team has been relocated to another pool, Kowalski said. According to its website, all practices will be at Newbridge Pool “until further notice.” Kowalski said the facility may change again in the future.

No re-open date for Lake Audubon Pool is yet available, Kowalski said, but there has been “regular contact” with the power company to try to push the work forward.

In addition, last weekend the pools at Golf Course Island, North Hills and Uplands went down due to maintenance issues. Kowalski said those problems have been attended to and the pools will be reopened next weekend for regularly scheduled hours.

“With any organization that has outdoor facilities, there are issues that arise as a result of not being in operation over the winter months,” Kowalski said. “A lot of those things are detected early and they are taken care of before the pool is even open, that’s wave one. Wave two is once the facility has people and staff, then other issues arise, and that’s pretty normal for each year.”

Kowalski said there are 33 bodies of water at Reston Association facilities — pools, spas and spray features. Backup motors for each type of facility are kept in stock and replenished as necessary.

For more information about available Reston Association pools, check the 2017 pool schedule.

“There are so many facilities in Reston for people to go to,” Kowalski said. “There really is something else very close by [if there is a pool closure].”

by RestonNow.com — June 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm 20 Comments

Eve Thompson, At-Large member of the Reston Association Board of Directors, has resigned from her position.

Thompson provided formal notice of the decision Tuesday in an email to CEO Cate Fulkerson. She said her resignation is effective immediately.

“It has been a privilege to serve the community that has given me so much,” Thompson said. “A wonderful place to raise my family, a community of friends and neighbors and even a livelihood which is keeping me very busy these days. I believe that it is now best for me to focus my energies in an area where I can make a positive contribution.”

Thompson was first elected to the board in 2013, representing the Lake Anne/Tall Oaks District. She was re-elected in 2016 to an At-Large seat. She served as the board’s secretary from 2015 to April 2017.

The process to fill Thompson’s seat on the board will be discussed at the June 22 meeting of the Board of Directors. Thompson’s unexpired term runs through April 2019.

by Dave Emke — June 6, 2017 at 10:00 am 5 Comments

A Reston Association recreation area is in need of repair after a vehicle crash over the weekend.

Don Gotthardt of the Fairfax County Police Department says the incident that damaged the Barton Hill Recreation Area took place just after 6:15 p.m. Saturday.

“It appears that a black Ford Explorer hit the fence near the tennis courts,” Gotthardt said. “When officers arrived, the vehicle was unoccupied. They towed it and are most likely following up.”

The Barton Hill tennis courts have been closed for resurfacing since last week, and they were unoccupied at the time of the crash. There is a good deal of property damage that will need to be fixed, however.

“We had damage to the Barton Hill Recreation sign, a trash can was demolished and the entry gate was badly damaged,” said Mike Leone, RA’s communications director. “Our original plan was to reopen the courts June 15, but that date may change because we now have to wait for the fence contractors to provide us with a repair timeline.”

by Dave Emke — June 2, 2017 at 4:00 pm 11 Comments

The Reston Association Board of Directors has adopted a new process in the effort to keep the community informed about potential major capital-improvement projects.

At its meeting last week, directors approved the plan as presented by CEO Cate Fulkerson and Garrett Skinner, director of capital projects. It was requested back in March after concerns about the way a potential project at Hook Road Recreation Area was being rolled out.

The new plan will include the following steps:

  • Identify the audience for the project (residents, clusters, committees, working groups, the Board of Directors, internal staff, media, other key stakeholders)
  • Determine messaging type (letter, face-to-face, status report, project update)
  • Determine the appropriate delivery method (meeting, informal presentation, formal presentation, mail/email, RA News, Reston magazine, website)
  • Determine frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, milestone, as needed)
  • Determine the source of the message (RA Board, CEO, director of capital projects, project manager, consultant, communications team)

Opportunities for face-to-face meetings with stakeholders will be prioritized, according to the plan. A sample project plan included within the presentation showed five different ways of communicating with area residents and multiple communications with RA membership as a whole, along with numerous meetings with RA-sponsored committees, staff, the DRB and the Board.

“The intent to make sure that we have created a plan that we will implement to create these communication documents within our project-management life cycle for capital projects,” Skinner said. “Hopefully, this will be another step into engaging more of the community, more of the members, in hopes of also instilling a little more confidence… that they will expect to see communication related to these projects [and that] we’re not executing these projects without direct involvement by members of the community.”

According to the plan’s overview:

  • Communicating with, and engaging, RA community stakeholders is essential to the successful execution of many capital projects.
  • This communication plan template demonstrates the approach for communicating and engaging with stakeholders about large-scale capital projects that may have potential impacts to the community and/or require input during planning and scope development.
  • The communication plan identifies audiences for each project, information to communicate, communication methods to use and frequency of communication.
  • This scalable plan is intended to help facilitate effective and targeted communication from RA to all prospective audiences.

Mike Batt, chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, said PRAC is offering its continued support in the effort to improve community outreach. He also recommended the board look again at the Hook Road project as the first project to implement the new plan and “create a solid, repeatable model for keeping RA facilities to the standard our members expect.”

“Hook Road is a great park; it’s likely it only needs minor enhancements,” Batt said. “Using it as a model for managing future projects could help regain the confidence and collaboration across the community.”

Graphic via Reston Association

by Dave Emke — June 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm 13 Comments

At its meeting last week, the Reston Association Board of Directors discussed requiring compensation for use of an aerial crane for construction on Colts Neck Road that would extend over RA property.

The request by Atlantic Realty Companies is for an aerial crane that it says is needed for the placement of the garage and building structure elements at the Hunters Woods at Trails Edge construction site (2222 Colts Neck Road). The crane’s arm would extend over a portion of RA common area north of the site, the former home of the United Christian Parish church.

The request to provide the easement in-kind was originally part of the meeting agenda’s consent calendar, but it was removed for further consideration. When the topic came up, Director John Mooney spoke up.

“That we would help something like this out is, I think, totally appropriate,” Mooney said. “But in my experience, local municipalities charge a fee for this species of temporary construction easements. I think that we as Reston Association should be equally diligent to seek that.”

Prior to moving to Reston last year, Mooney was senior assistant county manager in Arlington.

No live loads would be carried over the RA property, just the aerial arm of the crane. The arm would be above the tree canopy and would not impact the ground area or trees, ARC says. RA would also be added as an additional insured property on ARC’s insurance policy.

CEO Cate Fulkerson and Sherri Hebert, board president, asked what the going rate for such an agreement would be. Mooney said the formula to determine the charge would involve the land value of the parcel in question and the length of time for which it would be used. A representative for ARC said the aerial crane would be in use for about nine months.

“We’ve granted numerous easements to the Reston Association for trails, for restoration of the stream, with no compensation,” said the ARC representative at the meeting. “We think we’re trying to be a good friend and neighbor and we really request the same thing in kind.”

When it is complete, the IntegraCare facility will have 210 senior-living units — including 90 independent living units, 81 for assisted living, 24 for memory care and 15 for special needs.

Approval of the easement was tabled and discussion was moved to executive session.

Image via Reston Association

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