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by Dave Emke — April 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Nearly 1,400 volunteers contributed more than 24,000 hours of time to Reston Association’s volunteer program in 2016.

All that work was honored during a ceremony Thursday evening at The Lake House, and the most outstanding of those volunteers were specifically recognized as winners of the 2017 Volunteer Reston Service Awards.

Honorees were:

  • Volunteer of the Year: Leanna Kirkland

Kirkland was honored for her work serving in a wide variety of volunteer roles, including at the Multicultural Festival, Spring Festival, Nature House 5K, the Martin Luther King Day of Service, Halloween House and Trick-or-Treat Trail, and Maker Faire NOVA.

  • Youth Volunteer of the Year: Emily McGrath

A student at South Lakes High School, McGrath was honored for her contributions to the Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee.

  • Youth Group Volunteer of the Year: Chantilly High School Key Club

The club participated in nearly all Habitat Heroes events during 2016, and worked to clean up Snakeden Branch Upper. They also volunteered their efforts to the Martin Luther King Day of Service

  • Adult Group Volunteer of the Year: RA volunteer photographers (William O’Brien, Kristina Alcorn, LeRoy Wallin, Colena Turner and Anna Kulyk)

The volunteer photographers were celebrated for their work to help document and provide exposure for numerous Reston Association programs and events.

  • Family Volunteer of the Year: Charlie and Julie Bond

The Bonds help maintain the grounds and building at the Walker Nature Center, and they provide seasonal displays for the Nature House each year.

  • Group Volunteer of the Year: Natural Areas Assessment Team (Mike Horton, Don Coram, Farideh Mirmirani and Doug Britt)

The team was honored for giving their time to inspect and assess the health of Reston’s open space.

  • Community Partner of the Year: U.S. Geological Survey

USGS hosts Reston Association’s Science Summer Camp, which had 60 children in attendance in 2016.

  • Community Volunteer of the Year: Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (Tara Cranford Teague, Mary Shedlock, Tyrone Gillum, Michael Batt, Elaine Killoran, Aaron Diamond and David Nielsen)

The committee was recognized for its effort to collect feedback, identify and engage facility users, research best practices and present comprehensive findings to the Board of Directors.

In addition, Reston Association Board of Directors members whose time on the board recently ended — Dannielle LaRosa, Ellen Graves, Lucinda Shannon and Jeff Thomas — were also recognized for their service.

“Volunteering and community service are deeply rooted in our community’s core values thanks to our founder Robert E. Simon Jr.,” said Cate Fulkerson, Reston Association CEO. “Every year, hundreds of volunteers support RA’s mission by serving on the RA Board of Directors, one of our many advisory committees and work groups, helping with special events and programs or participating in cleanup projects at Reston lakes, in neighborhoods or along pathways. Volunteers are truly the backbone of Reston.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Volunteer Reston should contact Ha Brock at [email protected] or 703-435-7986.

Images in gallery at top courtesy Reston Association/Sean Bahrami

by RestonNow.com — April 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The last weekend in April is expected to bring hot weather, pushing the high 80s or even the low 90s. Summer is still almost two months away but it looks like this weekend will be a good early taste of it.

There are plenty of fun activities on the agenda for this weekend, whether you want to play outside or you’d rather be inside where it’s cool.

Here is just a sample of the events going on around the area this weekend.

  • Saturday marks the opening day of the Reston Farmers Market at Lake Anne Plaza. From 8 a.m. to noon, vendors will be offering their goods as the 20th season of the market kicks off. The Pink Armoire fashion bus will be a special guest this week.
  • Tonight, from 5:30-8 p.m., will be the Empty Bowls fundraiser at Floris United Methodist Church (13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon). Proceeds go to Food for Others. Tickets will be $30 at the door.
  • The Mighty Mile kids’ race will be Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. at Reston Town Center. Kids ages 6-14 will run one mile; 4- and 5-year-olds will run a half-mile; and kids under 4 will participate in the Tot Dash.
  • South Lakes High School Theatre is performing “Beauty and the Beast” this weekend and next. This weekend’s shows are tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m., and at 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets at the door are $10-$12.
  • Reston Children’s Center (11825 Olde Crafts Drive) will host its Spring Carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. It will include food, bounce castles, raffles and prizes, face painting, and carnival games.
  • The Mercury Fountain at Reston Town Center will be turned on for the season during a ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday. The event will include refreshments, family festivities and a dedication honoring Relay for Life.
  • Other events at Reston Town Center this weekend include Independent Bookstore Day at Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.), a cooking class at Il Fornaio (11990 Market St.), and live entertainment at World of Beer (1888 Explorer St.) tonight and Saturday.
  • Radcliffe Bailey: The Great Dismal Swamp” remains on display at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) through August.
  • The Reston Friends Semi-Annual Book Sale is going on all weekend at Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive).
  • The Meeting House at Frying Pan Farm Park (2739 West Ox Road, Herndon) served as a field hospital, encampment and picket post during the Civil War. From 1-3 p.m. Sunday, re-enactors, exhibits and a special guest speaker will share information about the lives of those soldiers.
  • Reston Association will host an open house at The Lake House on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon.
  • First Blooms” by artist Dorothy Donahey will be on exhibit at Reston Art Gallery and Studios (11400 Washington Plaza W.), one last weekend. The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
  • This will be the last weekend for “A Respite from Chaos” at Reston Community Center’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609 Washington Plaza N.).
  • NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) is performing “Boeing, Boeing” through May 7. Performances this weekend are tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday, and a 7 p.m. showing Sunday. Tickets are $35-$55.
  • Lucky Dog Animal Rescue will have its “Puppy Palooza” on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at Pet Valu (11160-E South Lakes Drive).
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., from Holly Montgomery Band. DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits Saturday night.
  • Vinafera Wine Bar and Bistro (11750 Sunrise Valley Drive) has live music from 7-10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night in April.

by Dave Emke — April 27, 2017 at 9:00 am 4 Comments

Top Reston Volunteers to Be Honored — An awards ceremony to recognize individuals, families, groups and businesses who make a significant contribution to the Reston community through volunteer service will be held tonight from 6:30-9 p.m. at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Ave.). [Reston Association]

Meeting on Glade Drive Bike Lanes Tonight — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will host a community meeting tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. at Hunters Woods Elementary School (2401 Colts Neck Road) to discuss potential changes to Glade Drive, including the addition of bike lanes and sharrows. [Reston Now]

Fairfax Corner Art Festival (Sponsored) — Fairfax Corner will transform into an outdoor art showcase during the 2nd Annual Fairfax Corner Art Festival this weekend. Monument Corner Drive will feature more than 100 national and international artists, arranged in pop-up gallery style and filled with all mediums of fine art. Admission is free and it’s taking place this Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 4100 Monument Corner Drive, Fairfax. [Howard Alan Events]

Reston Couples Find Business Success with Mat — Gerald and Michelle Zingraf, along with Ben and Camille Arneberg, have made about 6,000 sales of their new product, TerraMat, since February. The ergonomic anti-fatigue desk mat is designed to provide exercise, stretching and therapeutic massage for the feet of those who spend hours at a time standing at a desk. [Fairfax County EDA]

Red’s Table Has New Top Chef — Adam Stein has left Red’s Table to open his own D.C. restaurant, The Eleanor. Kevin Ettenson, 28, is the new executive chef at Red’s Table (11150 South Lakes Drive). Among his plans are an emphasis on housemade pastas and an expanded late-night menu. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

by Dave Emke — April 24, 2017 at 2:45 pm 34 Comments

Diana Turecek of Windleaf Court calls changes in hours in the 2017 Reston Association swimming pool schedule a “slap in the face to Reston residents who continue to face substantial increases in annual Association dues.”

In a letter to the editor submitted to Reston Now, Turecek says the changes — which include no weekday swimming prior to Memorial Day weekend and only two pools open the week before Labor Day — will result in frustration for Reston residents who just want to go swimming.

“This year fewer pools will be open, and those that are open will be open fewer hours. If you like swimming at the end of the season, have kids who like to swim on the weekdays, or are a lap swimmer, the pools are going to be much more crowded.”

This year, no pools will be open on weekdays prior to Memorial Day; in 2016, both the North Shore and Ridge Heights pools were open from 1-7 p.m. each weekday beginning May 14. Through June 23, only four pools will be open on weekdays, with one (Glade) open only three hours a night.

Mike Leone, RA’s communications director, said the pool schedule is developed annually based on a number of factors including historical use, geographic distribution of facilities, current program and rental use, potential future program and rental use, staffing requirements and budget implications.

“During the 2017 budget development process, the Board directed staff to identify significant cost savings in the budget to accommodate other strategic goals. Based on facility usage data collected over the past three years that shows a decline in pool attendance as well as feedback from the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors approved pool schedule options by which the proposed aquatics budget could be reduced while still serving the interests of the membership as a whole.”

Another reader who contacted Reston Now about the changes says the new schedule fails “to take into consideration that most people want these pools open when the weather is warm enough to swim through Labor Day.”

North Shore and Ridge Heights will be the only two pools open the week preceding Labor Day, from 4-7 p.m. each evening. All other pools will see their seasons end by Aug. 27. In 2016, Glade and Lake Newport pools also remained open through the first weekend in September.

Leone said pool staff is made up mainly of high school and college students. Fairfax County Public Schools changed its school schedule for 2017-18, beginning classes the last week of August (Monday, Aug. 28) instead of after Labor Day as in the past. Leone said a school schedule that ends June 23 and begins again Aug. 28 results in only nine full weeks of summer for pool scheduling.

Leone said the pool “season” schedule was tweaked this year to allow two more pools to stay open prior to school returning to session. In addition, he said, RA “will reopen as many pools as possible for the three-day Labor Day weekend, prioritizing those facilities which have the most capacity for swimmers and recreational users of all types.”

Turecek also expressed concern about Lake Newport pool being closed until 1 p.m. most weekends in June and July for Reston Swim Team Association meets. Other pools will be affected three weekends during the summer for meets.

“I also suspect — as in past years — there will be other non-announced pool closures to accommodate local day cares, summer camps or the dreaded ‘hygiene incidents,'” Turecek wrote.

Leone said staff has looked strategically at pools that can “generate additional revenue from rentals and activities during ‘closed’ hours.”

North Shore and Ridge Heights pools will open for the season Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

by RestonNow.com — April 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Volunteer Reston organized work at the Walker Nature Center earlier this week in celebration of Earth Day, and more events are planned for this weekend.

On Monday, volunteers teamed with the Nature Center to plant 100 native wildflowers, ferns and shrubs in the gardens. Volunteers also woodchipped sections of the Nature Center’s main teaching trail. Participating organizations included Starbucks and Sure Secure Solutions.

The Nature House is open Monday and Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

On Earth Day itself, Saturday, children ages 5-12 are invited to the Walker Nature Center to take part in an Earth Day Fun program from 11 a.m. to noon. Kids will participate in recycling games, eco-friendly crafts and more. Registration, which must be done by Friday at 5 p.m., can be done through WebTracby emailing [email protected] or by calling 703-476-9689.

Reston Association’s Habitat Heroes program will also participate in an Earth Day activity Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon. They will be removing invasive species and planting native species to help the long-term restoration project at the Wainwright Recreation Area.

Photo via Volunteer Reston/Sean Bahrami on Facebook

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

Kelsey Richard, a recreation specialist, was named Reston Association’s 2016 Employee of the Year during the annual Members’ Meeting on Tuesday.

“Kelsey was selected for her incredible service to RA,” said Ellen Graves, outgoing president of the Reston Association Board of Directors, in presenting the award. “She’s always friendly, she’s always upbeat and positive and consistently provides RA members and her RA partners with outstanding customer service, and [she] models teamwork and a can-do attitude every day.”

Graves said Richard went “above and beyond” in 2016 to help her department and others, including Member Services.

“[Kelsey] personifies the Reston Association model employee,” Graves said. “She regularly jumps in and helps wherever needed, regardless of whether it is her job or not.”

Graves said when help was needed on the aquatics team, Richard was quick to fill in, and she did the same when a bus driver was needed for RA’s camp program. Richard also helped train numerous co-workers to use RA’s new WebTrac system, Graves said.

“As humble as she is, she deserves significant recognition for all she has brought to the organization this year,” Graves said.

Richard first received recognition for the award in December, but Graves said the annual Members’ Meeting was an opportunity to once again thank her for her efforts.

RA’s top volunteers of the year, who had in the past also been recognized at the Members’ Meeting, will be honored this year with their own ceremony during National Volunteer Week. That event will take place Thursday, April 27, from 6:30-9 p.m. at The Lake House.

by Dave Emke — April 13, 2017 at 11:30 am 13 Comments

At Wednesday night’s initial meeting of the new Reston Association Board of Directors, Director Sherri Hebert (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks District) was elected the board’s new president.

“I think we’re in a place right now [where we need to] build trust and faith in the community,” Hebert said. “I think I have a lot of support with groups all over the community… [and] I just think that’s the biggest thing we need to really do as a board, is rebuild that trust.”

Hebert is in the second year of her first team as a director, after being voted onto the board in 2016. She said the board needs to work on its internal relationships to improve the discourse among directors.

“We need to be in a collaborative space, [but] that doesn’t mean we all agree with each other all the time,” she said. “We want to be respectful and timely, and do things maybe faster with not as much grandstanding.”

Hebert said she is a firm believer in transparency and fights executive sessions whenever possible. She also said her experience on the board’s fiscal committee provides “a good foundation” to move into the president’s seat.

Voting was done by secret ballot. Julie Bitzer (South Lakes District) was also nominated.

Board newcomer David Bobzien (Apartment Owners’ representative) was elected vice president, winning a vote over fellow newcomer Eric Carr (At-Large).

“I think that it’s incredibly important this year for the Reston Association to have a board that operates efficiently — one who actually has efficient board meetings,” Bobzien said. “I think that I bring a great deal of experience in leading that kind of effort.”

Michael Sanio (At-Large), the board’s previous vice president, was elected secretary. He was the only director nominated.

The board also voted at the meeting to have Dannielle LaRosa, who stepped down from her role as a director, continue as treasurer until a call for applicants for the position is completed. No one has yet applied for the position, board Assistant Secretary Sabrina Tadele said, but the deadline for applicants is not until May 19.

LaRosa expressed a desire to continue on as treasurer beyond May. There was discussion to withdraw the call for applicants and re-appoint LaRosa to the position indefinitely, but that met resistance from At-Large Director Ray Wedell.

“There is no harm in allowing Dannielle to continue for a month, and I’m sure she’ll do a great job, [but] we have an opportunity to get some applications and learn some things, that maybe there’s one or two other people out there we don’t know of,” he said. “Even if we do not choose them at the end of the day, it would be good to know who they are and what they can do.”

Full video of the meeting is available at Reston Association’s YouTube channel.

by Dave Emke — April 12, 2017 at 2:45 pm 24 Comments

Speaking at Reston Association’s annual Members’ Meeting on Tuesday, CEO Cate Fulkerson said she is looking to capitalize on the opportunities presented by challenges RA has faced in the past year.

“For anyone who knows my leadership style, I’m not one who walks away from a challenge or ignores difficulties,” Fulkerson said as she addressed the audience. “I believe in taking responsibility for errors, correcting them so they do not happen again, and I believe in finding opportunity in difficulty.”

Specifically, the difficulties of which Fulkerson spoke included the controversy surrounding the Tetra/Lake House renovation, concerns about how RA handles conflicts of interest, and the public input process regarding the Lake Newport soccer field proposal. Moving forward, Fulkerson said she understands the importance of building community trust and continuing on the path of leading sustainable change.

Fulkerson said she and her staff have a number of important tasks to complete in order for that to happen. The first, she said, is to establish a solid foundation with the incoming board — based, she said, on mutual respect, reciprocal communications and shared purpose.

The CEO said the StoneTurn Group review of the Tetra/Lake House deal highlighted several ways Reston Association can work toward bettering internal control policies and procedures for project management. She said she is developing a proposal along with RA CFO Robert Wood that includes the conduct of an internal process control and a walk-through review of RA’s purchasing practices, contract processing and capital-project management.

“The goal will be to have a new system in place by August of this year, so we can take the opportunity to invite StoneTurn to audit the Association in 2018 and to make sure the new processes and policies are being followed,” Fulkerson said.

Continuing work to establish a Code of Ethics for Reston Association is also on Fulkerson’s list of tasks, as she said it is of utmost importance as they work to build community trust.

In regard to new development, Fulkerson said Reston National Golf Course, Tall Oaks Village Center and St. John’s Wood are just some examples of “how vitally important it is for Reston Association to keep on track with leading sustainable change by vigilantly monitoring land-use happenings and advocating for trees, trails and thoughtful design.”

Fulkerson said community input is important to all decisions made by Reston Association. She said listening meetings are being planned for May and June in each of Reston’s districts to gather feedback on what matters most to RA members.

“Our interest is to engage you in conversation,” she said. “The timing of these listening meetings goes hand-in-hand with the development of the 2018 and 2019 Capital and Operating budgets.”

In addition to inviting feedback at the upcoming meetings, the CEO encouraged members to fill out request/suggestion forms for the budget.

Full video of Fulkerson’s speech is available through the Reston Association YouTube channel.

by Dave Emke — April 12, 2017 at 11:30 am 4 Comments

Eric Carr, John Mooney and Victoria White were announced Tuesday at Reston Association’s annual Members’ Meeting as the winners of the three contested races in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election.

Carr won a six-person race for an At-Large seat on the board, defeating runner-up Ven Iyer by 117 votes in a race that saw 8,534 votes counted. The full breakdown of votes in the race:

“I think it’s clear from the turnout, the number of candidates and the number of votes, that this is a very impassioned community that got involved because of the changes that are happening here,” said Carr, who won a three-year term. “It’s a community that really embraced that idea that we need to take a new interest in how the organization is run, and I think that as you look at the results across the board, you see that.”

Mooney and White each won head-to-head matchups with their challengers. Mooney earned a two-year term as the North Point District representative with 1,384 votes to opponent Arlene Krieger‘s 1,069. He will serve the remaining two years of the term won in the 2016 election by Dannielle LaRosa, who stepped down.

“I’m very grateful to the voters, the members, for putting their trust in me,” Mooney said. “I hope to serve the board as best I can, and the Association as best I can. [There are] a lot of challenges, but I’m looking forward to it.”

White, meanwhile, earned a three-year team as the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District representative with 1,026 votes to opponent Syazana Durrani‘s 456.

“I’m looking forward to reminding the RA that the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District exists and reminding them that there are a lot of great community members who have probably not been getting involved because they haven’t been happy,” she said. “I’m really excited to remind the RA of that.”

David Bobzien, who was unopposed in the race for Apartment Owners’ representative, will also join the board for a three-year term.

“I’m sort of coming full circle, since I’ve lived here since 1975 and have been active in the community and was on the Planning Commission during some of the early development,” he said. “Now we’re looking at all this re-development, so I’m just looking to do my part and help out wherever I can.”

The four new board members will sit in on their first meeting tonight, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The agenda includes the election of officers, and discussion of committees and upcoming training. CEO Cate Fulkerson will also present the board with its 2017 calendar and strategic issues for consideration in the next three months.

The new members join continuing members Julie Bitzer, Sherri Hebert, Michael Sanio, Eve Thompson and Ray Wedell on the board.

In total, 4,918 ballots were tallied for the election — a voter turnout of about 18.97 percent. The North Point District had the highest percentage (24.79) of ballots returned; Hunters Woods/Dogwood (13.74 percent) had the lowest.

by Dave Emke — April 12, 2017 at 9:00 am 17 Comments

Board of Directors Election Winners Announced — David Bobzien, Eric Carr, John Mooney and Victoria White were announced Tuesday night as the winners of the Reston Association Board of Directors election. A full story will be posted later today on Reston Now. [Reston Association]

Report: Man Charged With Sexual Abuse Was Deported Felon — Media in D.C. reports that Oscar Perez Rangel, charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl in Herndon, had previously been deported and was in the country illegally. [NBC Washington/WJLA]

Connolly: Hate Graffiti an Attack on Society — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Fairfax) says of anti-Semitic vandalism at the Jewish Community Center and Little River United Church of Christ in Annandale that “an attack on one faith is an attack on all.” [Rep. Gerry Connelly/Facebook]

GMU Professor, Students to Perform in Reston — A free concert Thursday by Dr. Patricia Miller, director of vocal studies at George Mason University, and her advanced students will include performances from Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera “Iolanthe.” [Reston Community Center]

by Dave Emke — April 10, 2017 at 11:30 am 5 Comments

At the annual Members’ Meeting on Tuesday at Reston Association Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive), the four new members of RA’s Board of Directors will be introduced.

In this year’s Reston Association board election, which ended April 3, 11 candidates ran for four positions. The winners of the election, to be announced Tuesday, will replace outgoing board members Ellen Graves, Dannielle LaRosa, Lucinda Shannon and Jeff Thomas.

The new members will join continuing members Julie Bitzer, Sherry Hebert, Michael Sanio, Eve Thompson and Ray Wedell on the board.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

  • Board President Ellen Graves will give the “State of the Association” report
  • CEO Cate Fulkerson will provide her report
  • the 2016 Reston Association Employee of the Year Award will be given out
  • members will be given time for comment

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The board will meet for its initial meeting Wednesday. On the agenda for that meeting is the election of officers, and discussion of committees and upcoming training. Fulkerson will also present the board with its 2017 calendar and strategic issues for consideration in the next three months.

That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, also at RA Headquarters.

Both meetings will also be streamed live on Reston Association’s YouTube channel.

by Eve Thompson — April 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm 1 Comment

What are you doing this Sunday (April 9)? May I suggest grabbing a cup of coffee and heading down to cheer on the people running in the Runner’s Marathon of Reston? It’s a hard and hilly course (so I’m told), and the runners love the boost from the crowd. Here is a link to the map.

Maybe spending some time along the Reston trails will inspire you to run or walk on them. To me, the 55 miles of footpaths that Reston Association maintains are one of the defining features of Reston.

The trails cover every neighborhood in Reston, and walking, running or biking them is a great way to get to know the community. RA has maps on their website, or you can use the wonderful interactive map Fairfax County has of all the paths. I like this tool because it lets you plan your route before you head out. Here are a few of my favorite walks about town — but don’t stop with these.

  • Town Center to Lake Anne, North Reston. This walk is just shy of 1.5 miles and winds through a few of Central Reston’s original neighborhoods — Coleson Cluster and Hickory Woods. It’s fun to start at Lake Anne, grabbing breakfast at the Lake Anne Coffee House and shopping at the Farmers Market (starting in early May and going through December), then walking up to Town Center for lunch.
  • Lake Thoreau Loop, South Reston. This loop is just over 2 miles and circles around charming Lake Thoreau and past the Reston Regional Golf Course. Begin and end your loop at South Lakes Village with a coffee or delicious lunch at Red’s Table or Café Sano.
  • North Point Loop, North Reston. This is a 4-mile loop for those who want a little more exercise. This trail is great because it really gives you a sense of the North Point community. I recommend starting at Lake Newport pool. These trails take you through several charming neighborhoods, and you’ll notice an abundance of RA pools and tennis courts (in fact, if you do this in the summer, pop into one of the pools for a refreshing dip). After your brisk walk, cross the street over to North Point Village for coffee, ice cream or lunch!
  • Walker Nature Education Center and Glade, South Reston. There are many options for a walk from here. From the Center, follow the trailhead and see where it takes you! There is a short loop (probably 1/2 mile), or you can venture off on the RA path that follows Glade. Whatever you choose, you will feel like you are miles from civilization. It’s a wonderful place to recharge.
  • Tall Oaks to Lake Fairfax Park, North Reston. I’m not entirely sure how long this walk is, but the park loop takes about half an hour — longer if you’re with a dog who needs to investigate all the great smells. Park at Tall Oaks Village Center, cross under the underpass and head toward the wooden bridge. When you hit a dirt trailhead, take a left and follow the trail into Lake Fairfax Park. You’ll cross a little creek and then the path opens to what is a large loop. Go left or right and just follow it around. It’s a gorgeous walk in the woods! Just be careful — mountain bikers train here. They’re very courteous, but they’re also usually going pretty fast!

What you’ll soon find is you can have any type of walk or run you want in Reston — relaxing and easy, or very challenging. And you can get anywhere you need or want to go on foot. It’s always fun to discover a new trail and see where it takes you.

by Dave Emke — April 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Reston Association is turning to crowdsourcing in the effort to map and identify native plants and uncommon wildlife.

Patricia Greenberg, RA’s environmental resource supervisor, says work has been done in the past 18 to 24 months to assess 800 acres of open space for abundance of invasive species and encroachment on natural areas. She says with the help of the community, much more can be done.

The community’s help is being enlisted through a free smartphone app called iNaturalist. By signing up for the Reston Bioblitz group within the app, information users provide regarding plants and wildlife in Reston will be shared with RA’s Environmental Resource Department as they work to map the area’s natural landscape.

“Volunteers can help by mapping and identifying the sensitive or rare native plants and wildlife that exist throughout Reston,” Greenberg said. “Mapping these special natives will help determine where staff should focus their work to suppress invasive plants and protect native species.”

Work done at the sites prioritized through the mapping effort will include removing invasive plants, installing and protecting native species, and restoring habitat throughout Reston’s woods.

Greenberg said anyone who is willing to snap photos for the app is able to participate in the project. No expertise is required, as any photos that are uploaded can be examined and identified through the app by a naturalist.

“We’re asking for people to get this app on their phone, take a walk in Reston, see plants or wildflowers, and take photos through the app,” she said. “I’m hoping to have a great reaction and a lot of feedback and involvement.”

Greenberg said similar efforts in Arlington, Alexandria and the National Park Service have been successful. She also said her department works with Fairfax County’s Master Naturalists to gather such information, but more help is always a good thing.

“Basically, we’re just trying to get people out and about,” she said. “It takes a certain type of person.”

For more information about the Bioblitz effort, contact Greenberg at [email protected] or 703-435-6552.

Top photo courtesy Reston Association; screencap via iNaturalist app

by Dave Emke — March 29, 2017 at 10:45 am 7 Comments

The Reston Association Board of Directors is seeking candidates for the position of treasurer.

The board’s treasurer works with RA’s professional staff. The responsibilities of the position include:

  • Monitoring and reporting to the board as needed with respect to association funds and securities
  • Ensuring that full and accurate financial records and books of account are kept and that all financial data are prepared
  • Coordinating regularly with the association’s chief financial officer
  • Serving as a voting member of the Fiscal Committee and Board Operations Committee
  • Providing financial guidance, as needed, during monthly board meetings

According an announcement of the position on RA’s website, the treasurer is expected to work about 15 hours per month.

The board’s current treasurer is Dannielle LaRosa, who is also the director from the North Point District. LaRosa is stepping down from her seat on the board, with her time set to expire April 11. Though the current treasurer is also a member of the Board of Directors, it is not an elected position and it can be held by any member of the community in good standing.

The board voted at its March 23 meeting to put out the call for treasurer applicants as LaRosa leaves; however, LaRosa can apply to potentially be reappointed, RA communications director Mike Leone said.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you guys,” LaRosa said at the meeting. “I would love to be treasurer again… but really, I’d like for whoever the best person is to be the treasurer.”

Anyone interesting in applying for the position is encouraged to submit a resume and a letter of interest by May 19 to Sabrina Tadele, the board’s assistant secretary, at [email protected].

by Dave Emke — March 27, 2017 at 2:45 pm 40 Comments

Pedestrian lighting — or lack thereof — is a hot topic in Reston, and Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee weighed in on it at last week’s meeting of the Board of Directors.

EAC member Melissa Gildea said the committee’s opinion is that there is no correlation between increased lighting and a reduction in crime, and they also say bright lighting on walkways and paths has an adverse effect on wildlife.

“A lot of times, what we do with lighting is completely unnecessary,” Gildea said. “There is no reason to have anything lit like the day.”

In its official recommendation for lighting in regard to safety, the EAC says:

“We recommend that night lighting is only used where there is a documented need for it for human safety. In considering where to place lighting, the activity level of the area should be considered. Recreation areas active at night may require lighting, while pathways in wooded areas and in natural meadow areas should remain dark to protect plants, insects, birds and animals in those spaces. Designed environments can help deter crime; having green space is a documented crime deterrent.”

“The reason you use lighting has to be important enough for us to disrupt the environment and disrupt ourselves,” Gildrea said. “Passive surveillance [not lighting] is the No. 1 way to keep crime down.”

Gildea said research in cities including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York found that increasing lighting in secluded areas such as alleys actually increased crime in those places.

“You can’t reduce crime by lighting an area,” she said. “The criminals could see what they were doing.”

The EAC’s official recommendation does say that it would be in favor of “amounts of lighting that published research indicates will foster a perception of safety in a neighborhood.” In places where lighting is deemed appropriate, the EAC recommended lighting that is near the ground and very low-level.

Director Ray Wedell took umbrage to the claim that increased lighting does not decrease crime, saying anyone looking to prove something can find a study to support any preconceived notion. To prove his point, he cited a study he found that indicated the opposite of the research EAC cited.

“We have to make our own decision based on common sense,” he said. “Don’t just say that it doesn’t work. If properly deployed, it works alongside all kinds of other things.”

The board voted unanimously to send the EAC’s findings to the Design Review Board and the Pedestrian Lighting Working Group for consideration. The board will have an opportunity to review any proposals for pedestrian lighting before they are implemented.

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