Morning Notes

A sign explaining the playground rules at Lake Anne School (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Amazon Partners with Metro on Affordable Housing — Amazon will devote $125 million to fund the construction of 1,000 new affordable housing units on land owned by Metro or near Metro stations. The initiative is intended to help bring more low and middle-income residents closer to public transit and job centers, but it will be up to developers to apply for the funds. [The Washington Post]

County Brings COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic to Reston — The North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Dr.) will host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be provided, which has been authorized for adults 18 and older, and walk-in appointments are available. [Hunter Mill District News]

Georgetown Pike Bridge Closes Tomorrow — Georgetown Pike over Difficult Run will be closed to traffic between Old Dominion Drive and Towlston Road in Great Falls from 8 p.m. Friday (June 18) to 4 a.m. on Monday (June 21). The closure will enable crews to make bridge repairs, which will involve some overnight noise from concrete demolition and other construction activities. [VDOT]

Reston Association Yard Sale Returns — The 80 Family community yard sale is coming back on Saturday (June 19) after missing last year due to COVID-19 health restrictions. Scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to noon in the RA parking lot (12001 Sunrise Valley Dr.), the event will include a Kona Ice truck selling shaved ice and a Purple Heart collection truck that will accept donations of unsold items. [Patch]

Reston Software Company Launches Second Year of Scholarship Program — The Ellucian Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the recently acquired company Ellucian, will accept applications for its PATH Scholarship Program until July 14. The program gives higher education institutions block grants of up to $25,000 “to support students facing economic hardship and educational disruptions.” [Ellucian]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association Day Camp kids having fun at Lake Anne Plaza.

The Friends of Reston is raising $15,000 to help send kids to camp.

The nonprofit arm of the Reston Association has commenced its annual fundraiser to give “economically disadvantaged children” a chance to attend Reston Camps this summer.

The goal is to raise $15,000. That covers the cost for about 27 children to experience a full two-week session of camp, including transportation and a camp t-shirt, a Friends of Reston spokesperson tells Reston Now.

For a two-week session, it can cost upwards of $510 per camper.

“This year, more than ever, children need the opportunity to meet new friends, explore their community, and have fun while learning new skills — Reston Camps provides this, and more,” Friends of Reston Executive Director Kia Cole-Hines writes in a press release. “FOR is grateful for all the donors who make this possible for children whose families are unable to afford this experience.”

Parents who wish to potentially take advantage of the scholarships for their kids can do so by applying through Reston Association’s camp registration process. Eligibility is determined during the application process.

Those that qualify for school lunch assistance are potentially eligible for the camp scholarship program, FOR spokesperson confirmed.

The Friends of Reston Camp Scholarship Fund was first established in 2001. Each year, individuals and businesses from across Reston provide contributions between $10 to $2,000 to the fund.

This year, Red’s Table in South Lakes Village Center is helping by asking diners to round up their payments for meals to the nearest dollar, with the extra change going to the camp scholarship fund.

“We are proud to support this campaign and hope Red’s Table can provide a significant contribution with the help of our customers,” Red’s Table owner Ryan Tracy stated in the press release. “As native Restonians, we’re very aware of the benefits of RA’s Reston Camps and want to help with making it possible for children in need through the Friends of Reston Scholarship Fund.”

Contributions can be made by donating online and by writing “Camp Scholarships” in the payment notes. Contributions can also be sent via mail.

While this fundraiser will be taking place through July, donations for the scholarship can be accepted all year round.

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On Tuesday night (June 8), the Reston Association Board of Directors talked about their program and services ‘wish lists,’ while deferring a detailed discussion about increasing member assessments in 2022.

The board was supposed to suggest an assessment range to CEO Hank Lynch during the work session, according to the meeting’s agenda.

But an agreement was struck to delay that decision after RA Fiscal Committee Chairman David Kerr recommended that the board start working through its budget plans by focusing on priorities, the cost of them, and operating expenses.

Once those are agreed upon, Kerr recommended figuring out what it will cost and, then, moving to how it could impact member assessments.

“Let’s think about what revenue could be and then see how much we can afford to spend,” Kerr said. “I think a better approach [is] what do we need to deliver and what that’s going to cost…and that way you are focused on what we have to spend as opposed to what we can’t spend.”

This led to more process discussion before giving RA board members a chance to pitch their “wish lists” of programs and services they’d like to see funded.

Among the items suggested were: planting of more trees, further investment in maintaining Reston’s lakes, expanded sidewalks, adding more ADA features to facilities, the hiring of a senior environment officer, and year-around indoor tennis courts.

One board member also requested assistance for members who can’t afford to pay member assessment dues.

“There are members who don’t necessarily qualify for [county] assistance, but are definitely struggling,” noted RA board member Sarah Selvaraj-D’​Souza. “We do have assistance programs available, but there’s a gap between those that are eligible and ones that can afford [assessment dues] comfortably.”

Lynch acknowledged that he’s received a number of hardship letters over the last year from members and recommended working with RA’s nonprofit arm Friends of Reston on that.

According to RA by-laws, the association has no authority to assist with membership assessments.

“We cannot remove someone’s obligation who is a member here to pay the membership assessment,” Lynch said. “Do I have authority to give or reduce or do anything to help individuals? The way the bylaws are written, we cannot.”

There was also a brief discussion of an “events barn” that could host arts, music, and food festivals. It would be a good way to increase non-assessment revenue, RA board member John Mooney said.

Member assessments were a hot topic of conversation at the RA Board of Directors meeting last week. A general conclusion was reached that an assessment increase is likely needed due to rising operational expenses as well as the plethora of capital improvement projects that need to be planned for over the next few years.

The assessment currently sits at $718, but additional expenses could mean a 6% increase — or nearly $40 — in 2022.

In a poll earlier this week, Reston Now asked readers if they support an RA assessment increase. 63% of respondents voted for keeping the assessment rate at its current level.

At the end of the meeting, the board deferred any further discussion about member assessments to the next budget work season, possibly in July.

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The Reston Association Board of Directors appeared to come to a general agreement during a recent meeting that member assessments need to be raised in 2022.

The question, of course, is exactly how much.

According to a table presented by RA CEO Hank Lynch, additional operating expenses are set to be added to the 2022 budget to the tune of about $850,000. These expenses include staff pay increases, insurance costs, and additional positions.

By Lynch and RA treasurer Bob Petrine’s estimates, this could mean assessments will need to increase by approximately 6%, or about $40 per member. The assessment currently sits at $718.

However, the exact increase may vary depending on RA’s non-assessment revenue (like facility rentals, camps, and garden plots) and budget cuts.

There’s also a host of capital improvement projects that are ongoing or upcoming. While nothing new is currently expected to be added to the budget, Petrine cautioned the board to consider what could come in the future.

There’s also a potential option of deferring some of these projects, something RA has done before.

Over the course of several budget meetings planned for the coming weeks, the board will discuss exact finances, potential cuts (including the potential “repurposing” of some pools), and what an increase could look like.

The first of these meetings is set for tonight (June 8). The plan for this evening is for the RA Board to provide Lynch with a percentage range for an increase that the RA board would be comfortable with.

Assessment increases are nothing new for RA members. Last year, it went up by $10, or close to 1.4%. In 2019, it went up by 2.2%. Overall, between 2010 and 2018, the assessment went up by a combined 34%.

However, this potential 6% raise would be the highest in a number of years.

Taking the rising costs of personnel and facility maintenance and improvement projects, how would you feel about Reston Association raising assessments again?

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Monday, June 7

  • Cicadas Around Us (3 p.m.) — Take a trip to Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale to learn about what’s been making those whirring noise in the backyard. After spending 17 long years underground, the cicadas are here to reveal their secrets. This event is intended for kids 4 and older.

Tuesday, June 8

  • Democratic Primary Day (6 a.m.-7 p.m.) — The Virginia Democratic Party is holding its primary, giving residents a chance to vote in several statewide and local elections.

Wednesday, June 9

  • LGBTQ+ Exhibit in McLean (all day) — Honor Pride Month by checking out a new exhibit at the McLean Community Center. The exhibit features the Progress Pride flag designed by Daniel Quasar and a rainbow-colored display that invites everyone in the community to reflect on what the month means to them.
  • COVID-19 Remembrance Ceremony (6 p.m.) — The Northern Virginia Regional Commission is holding a ceremony at the Fairfax County Government Center to honor and remember the people in the region who have died from COVID-19. There will be a “last alarm” bell service, and several local officials will speak.

Thursday, June 10 

  • Oyster Wars (7 p.m.) — The Chesapeake Bay was the site of the “Oyster Wars,” a century-long conflict between battling fishermen ending in the 1950s. Virtually learn about this obscure, local history in a program from the Smithsonian Associates.

Friday, June 11

  • ALX Pride at the Torpedo Factory (7-9 p.m.) — Celebrate Pride Month in Alexandria with both virtual and outdoor, in-person programs. Explore a new exhibit “UHAULED” featuring five U-Haul trucks each containing holding works or local queen and lesbian artists.
  • Movie in the Park (8 p.m.) — The next entry in Reston Association’s summer-long series of movies in the park. This edition is being held at the Brown’s Chapel Recreation Area and the film of choice is “Croods: A New Age.”

Saturday, June 12

  • The Colors of Our Year (10 a.m.) — Head downtown to the Kennedy Center’s The REACH for a day-long celebration of the past year from the Kennedy Center Youth Council. Through spoken word, dance, art, and film, young artists will share the breath of their experiences.
  • Young Chefs (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) — Learn from Ms. Janell about how to prepare no-bake deliciousness. The class is intended for children and will be held outdoors while following the latest COVID protocols. The class is being put on by the Reston Association

Sunday, June 13

  • Music in the Garden (3-4 p.m.) — Enjoy classical gems by Bartok and Kivrak on the lawn in Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna. The concert is set to take place in front of the Korean Bell Pavilion. Chairs and snacks are allowed, but no picnicking.
  • Loudoun Pride (1-4 p.m.) — The first ever Equality Loudoun picnic and festival takes place at Foxridge Park. Family-friendly and intended for the entire community, there’ll be food trucks, music, speakers, and plenty of games.

Photo by Debra Haffner

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(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) While most schools are wrapping up and kids are headed into vacation mode, Flint Hill School junior Zoe Bredesen is making her mark on Reston’s environment by organizing tree plantings.

A Girl Scout since she was 5, Bredesen is now pursuing the organization’s highest award with her goal to plant at least 400 trees throughout Fairfax County, and she is working with Reston Association to achieve it.

The Girl Scout website says scouts can earn the Gold Award by finishing at least 80 hours of community service and showing “proof that not only can she make a difference, but that she already has.”

Bredesen has been passionate about the environment for as long as she can remember.

“I grew up in a very forested area,” she said. “So, I’ve always just really loved trees and nature, and climate change is something that I’m very concerned about. It’s one that I think demands radical, substantial effort to combat.”

Bredesen recognized that her ability to bring about the large-scale changes necessary to address climate change on a global level was limited, so she decided to focus on a project that would make an impact in her local community.

“I can’t shut down BP Oil or make every county use sustainable energy,” Bredesen said. “…One thing that I can just do as just me is plant trees to take in some of the [carbon dioxide] and put out fresh oxygen to combat atmosphere pollution. So, that’s just what I’m doing as a single person trying to make a difference.”

Bredesen has now been working on the project for two years with assistance from fellow students in the environmental club that she leads at her school. The group has planted 250 trees to date.

While the COVID-19 pandemic slowed their work due to the need to minimize the risk of close contact in large groups of people, Bredesen and her team have stayed committed to her goal.

Most recently, she worked with Reston Association volunteers and environmental resource staff to plant 40 trees along Moorings and North Shore Drive.

The next planting event will take on June 26 at 10 a.m., again in collaboration with RA.

In order to attend, participants must sign a COVID health waiver. Anyone who is interested in helping can contact Volunteer Reston Manager Ha Brock at [email protected].

Bredesen says she started working with RA, because she needed to get permission to plant on the grounds of their facilities. She has collaborated with other organizations as well, including Claude Moore Park and a homeowners’ association in Ashburn.

During her project, Bredesen has been helping train volunteers on how to plant and take care of the trees. She will be turning to the Reston community for help at the next planting, since many of her usual helpers from the school environemntal club will be away on summer vacation at that time.

Bredesen says spring is typically the best time to plant trees because that’s when they have the best chance of surviving. Summer into the early fall works as well, but trees have the “lowest chance of succession” during the winter months.

“Now that more people are getting vaccinated and covid restrictions are loosening, if we could get more people coming together to plant trees with the common goal of reducing our carbon footprint, I think that’d be awesome,” Bredesen said.

Photo via Volunteer Reston/Facebook

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Reston Association is looking at potentially introducing greater electric vehicle initiatives, but a months-long evaluation of the proposal’s feasibility has revealed some hurdles.

During the RA Board of Directors meeting on May 27, COO Larry Butler and Cam Adams, the director of covenants administration, presented findings from a study of electric vehicles and charging stations that the board unanimously approved on Feb. 25.

One of the motions approved in February directed RA staff to study the possibility of installing electric vehicle charging stations at one or more RA facilities. The other motion called for staff to review the potential replacement of the association’s current fleet of fossil-fueled vehicles over the next 10 years.

With notes from consulting firm Kimley-Horn, Butler said at last week’s meeting that the availability of electric vehicles does not meet the general needs necessary for the complete conversion of the fleet at this time.

Since the majority of RA’s fleet consists of trucks, the current design for electric trucks does not meet the association’s needs, according to Butler, who noted that they typically have shorter beds than fossil-fuel versions and lack power capabilities for towing, hauling, or snow plowing.

However, he clarified that “this is really just the beginning of this investigation,” and the review to switch to electric vehicles will continue.

“The market isn’t there yet. It’s moving very fast,” Butler said.

He told the board that Kimley-Horn had recommended reevaluating electric vehicle options “every two to three, maybe four, years.”

“As the market becomes more robust with the types of vehicles, the cost of those because the competition will also come down…we’ll be in a better place to really look at more wholesale conversion,” he said.

There will remain consideration in the budget for electric vehicles, but a full conversion is not yet possible, in Butler’s opinion.

“We are in the early stages of going from fossil to electric. You’ve raised, I think, what are the major issues,” RA Director Bob Petrine said after Butler’s presentation. “I think the biggest single one is there isn’t at the moment a good break-even point. The trucks that are in offing are more toys than they are work trucks.”

Adams followed this discussion by addressing the board’s Jan. 28 directive to study how RA, the Design Review Board, and the covenants committee can assist clusters considering the installation of EV charging stations.

He suggested that a draft guideline could be presented to the DRB when it meets in July but estimated a final draft will take about five months to prepare, potentially for presentation in October.

While the Design Review Board has already approved six separate types of EV installations, it does not have an established guideline “that the DRB can objectively review that application,” according to Adams.

He added that the board would probably review any request submitted for an EV installations and that each “will evaluate it in a certain level of reasonableness that’s appropriate.”

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The $3.5 million renovation of Reston Association’s Lake Thoreau pool has hit more roadblocks, this time due to lack of contractor availability and soaring material costs.

Already three months behind initial estimates, an October groundbreaking remains the official goal, but there’s a likelihood that the date will be pushed back again.

“Due to the volatility of the construction market, narrowing down the final estimate for this project is challenging,” RA spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email. “Assuming the timeline holds, construction would start around October but there is a possibility it could be pushed into November.”

RA recently sent out requests to 10 contractors for pre-qualifying bids on the project, but the association received only two responses.

“This is a little bit disappointing, but indicative of the market that many, many contractors are very, very busy,” Chief Operating Officer Larry Butler said at RA’s Board of Directors meeting last Thursday (May 27).

Butler said the hope is to bring on a contractor when the project design and development are 80% complete, so the contractor can provide their own insight and expertise before sending it to Fairfax County for approval.

Leone says it’s expected that a contract with a general contractor will be ready for review and approval by the RA board in August or September.

Another element currently complicating the project is fast-rising material costs. Butler notes that the $3.5 million project budget was established prior to the recent spike in material costs.

“Here’s a really crazy example…There’s a lot of piping in pools. PVC costs are up 270% from March 2020 to March 2021,” Butler explained.

The hope is that prices will stabilize and drop, but “it’s an ever-moving target,” he says.

The overall cost of the renovations and the means of paying for them have been an ongoing source of conflict since the project first started in late 2019. The project is now rather lean, though at least one RA board member was asking about the potential for further cuts.

The issues with the Lake Thoreau renovations come as RA contemplates raising member assessments and, possibly, repurposing other pools  due to ongoing budgetary challenges.

Key design elements being added or modified at Lake Thoreau pool include ADA access to the main pool, re-working of the roof geometry, a zero-depth area, a repositioning of the spa away from the bathhouses, and a redesign of the overlook deck. A pollinator garden will also be added near the parking lot.

The renovations are expected to be completed about a year after construction begins, so that could be in October or November 2022. A grand reopening of Lake Thoreau pool is anticipated in May 2023.

However, Leone cautions that the timing could change.

“If the start of construction is delayed for whatever reason, then there is a chance the grand re-opening could be delayed,” he told Reston Now.

Photo via Reston Association

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The Reston Association Board of Directors is set to discuss increasing member assessments, potentially by as much as $40, at upcoming work sessions in preparation to draft the 2022 budget.

At a board meeting last Thursday (May 27), CEO Hank Lynch laid out factors, questions, and known expenses that will affect the upcoming budget, which will be discussed and drafted later this summer.

His report led to the conclusion that an assessment increase will likely be needed, along with possible cuts and ways to increase non-assessment revenue. The assessment is currently at $718.

Further discussion about what this increase could look like, including a proposed percentage range that the RA board would be comfortable with, will happen at upcoming work sessions. The first one is set for June 8.

Lynch said that the potential increase isn’t needed to add new items to the budget, but rather, to catch up on projects from the previous year.

“We are not planning, right now, any new programs or services,” said Lynch. “Mainly, we are trying to get things we had in the pipeline last year that we couldn’t do because of COVID up and running this year. We are not looking to do new things for 2022.”

A huge impact on the budget is an increase in operating expenses, particularly staff pay increases, hiring, staff turnover, and RA’s insurance policy.

Lynch authorized a compensation study by the human resources firm Archer Company in 2019. The study concluded that staff pay increases were needed for better retention and recruitment.

Adopting the study’s recommendations would cost an additional $400,000, according to a table that Lynch presented at last week’s meeting. There are also four new positions that have been requested to be filled, which would cost $430,000.

Overall, adding in the statewide minimum wage increase as well as rising costs for staff benefits, Lynch projects that RA can anticipate approximately $705,000 in new staffing expenses for 2022, even with some savings from higher-than-normal staff turnover.

There’s also a potential for an increase in the cost of RA’s insurance policy, bringing the total dollars expected to be added to the operating budget to nearly $850,000.

Without finding cuts or generating more non-assessment revenue, the additional operating expenses would mean a 6% increase, or nearly $40, in annual assessment fees for members, according to Lynch.

That’s four times the increase that was approved last year. Read More

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Reston Association is relaxing COVID-related pool restrictions starting Memorial Day weekend.

Beginning Friday (May 28), RA pools will go back to full, pre-COVID capacity, RA spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email.

This comes as the state and the county will also completely lift capacity restrictions for outdoor pools starting May 28.

However, RA plans to honor reservations made for Memorial Day weekend, since it had instituted a reservation system for that time period prior to the county and state announcements.

“Our priority will be to honor all Members with reservations through May 31st,” Leone clarified in an email. “If there is available capacity at a pool after Members with reservations arrive, those without reservations will be permitted to use the pool until it reaches capacity limits.”

Beginning June 1, the majority of RA pool facilities will open with no reservations required.

Due to popular demand, though, RA will continue to have lap swim and water fitness reservations at some locations throughout the summer. If space is available, walk-ins will be permitted.

Physical and social distancing will also no longer be enforced starting June 1, but RA is asking residents “to be mindful of personal space.”

RA will also still require masks inside its facilities, regardless of whether a resident is fully vaccinated or not. Masks are not required, though, when patrons are in the water, eating, drinking, and exercising, or for people who have a medical exception.

Virginia and Fairfax County both are no longer requiring masks in most settings for those who are fully vaccinated.

Five more RA pools will be opening on Saturday (May 29), joining the North Shore and Ridge Height heated pools, which both opened on May 15. Then, the rest of the RA pools will open for the season on June 12.

Pool season is getting underway as debate heightens about the possible “repurposing” or, even, closure of a number of pools.

Last week, RA staff recommended that Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood pools be “seriously considered for repurposing” due to their low usage. RA CEO Hank Lynch is scheduled to further discuss his budget recommendations at the board of directors meeting on Thursday (May 27).

A recent year-long evaluation by RA’s recreation facilities work group found that a number of decades-old facilities, including some pools, are in need of a considerable amount of work and repairs.

RA recently renovated several of these pools, including an ongoing $3.5 million facelift for Lake Thoreau and a resurfacing of Glade pool’s slide.

Tall Oaks and Shadowood are both currently closed due to ongoing renovations.

Photo courtesy of Reston Association

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Morning Notes

Man Charged in Reston Condo Murder — 24-year-old Alexander Jahelka has been charged with second-degree murder after police found his father, 66-year-old Kenneth Jahelka, suffering from stab wounds in a condominium in the 11800 block of Shire Court on Saturday (May 22). This is the eighth homicide that Fairfax County has seen this year and the third in Reston. [FCPD]

Dead Body Found on Herndon Golf Course — “Detectives from the Herndon Police Department believe that man whose body’s was found Friday morning [May 21] at Herndon Centennial Golf Course had died accidentally, according to Lisa Herndon, HPD spokeswoman…A golf course employee found the body in a pond on the property and contacted police, according to Herndon. HPD identified the body as that of an adult male.” [Patch]

BLM Banner Stolen from Reston Church Again — Unitarian Universalist Church members noticed that the church’s Black Lives Matter banner was missing again on Thursday (May 20). Installed in September, this was the church’s second BLM banner after one raised last June in response to the racial justice protests spurred by George Floyd’s murder was also stolen. [Patch]

Reston Association Reviewing Updated COVID-19 Guidelines — “Until the review is completed, RA will continue to require the use of masks, a pool reservation sign-up system and social distancing at all RA facilities, including pools. RA will inform members of any changes in operating procedures due to the governor’s order as soon as possible. The association’s first priority is to ensure the safety of our employees and members.” [RA News]

Reston Singer Releases New Single — “Emerging singer-songwriter Amanda Cunningham of Reston shares her struggle with personal accountability, power when forming close friendships, and self-esteem in her newest single, “Pattern” (2021). Originally a self-described pop/rhythm and blues [R&B] singer, Cunningham recently admitted her voice and lyrics are turning more country.” [The Connection]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County School Board Adopts Budget — The Fairfax County Public Schools fiscal year 2022 budget includes funding for 50 new positions for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, school-based technology specialists, and 18 new social worker and psychologist positions to meet state requirements. It also covers technology support fees previously charged to families and a 2% market rate adjustment for all employees. [FCPS]

Bike To Work Day Is Here — The D.C. area’s annual initiative to encourage people to ride a bicycle to work marks its 20th anniversary today. There will be a pit stop at Reston Station Plaza from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and one at the Herndon Town Hall Green that will be open in the morning (5:30-10 a.m.) and the afternoon (4:30-6 p.m.). [Bike to Work Day]

Northern Virginia Vets Will Get Free Rides to Vaccine Appointments — Starting in mid-June, veterans in Northern Virginia can get free transportation to and from COVID-19 vaccine appointments, thanks to a partnership between the Dulles Area Transportation Association and Northern Virginia Veterans Association. The effort to organize rides through a taxi service was made possible by $80,000 in funding from the Federal Transit Administration. [WDVM]

Reston Association to Hold Big Yard Sale on June 19 — “Join Reston Association at the Reston Community Yard Sale. Eighty families will be selling a variety of items, so this event is a great opportunity to find things for a new home or a college dorm. Sign up to have a booth or stop by to browse for great bargains.” [RA/Twitter]

Baby Panda to Make Public Debut Today — The Smithsonian will reopen the National Zoo to the public today after a six-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and visitors will get their first chance to see giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji in person. The cub, whose name translates to “little miracle,” was born on Aug. 21, 2020 and now weighs 45 pounds. [The Washington Post]

Park Authority Hiring for Summer Camp — “Rec-PAC, affiliated with the Fairfax County Park Authority, is hiring to fill over 200 positions for its six-week summer camp. Rec-PAC is hosting two open hires for job seekers interested in working as a camp counselor or camp director…Join us for the virtual open hire on Monday, June 7, 2021 anytime between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.” [FCPA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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(Updated at 2:30 p.m. on 5/19/2021) Reston Association staff is recommending that four pools be “seriously considered for repurposing” due to low usage.

Pool usage will be discussed at a joint work session with the RA board and Recreation Facilities Working Group on Thursday (May 20), along with budgetary recommendations based on findings that the working group presented in late February.

Two decades of data that RA CEO Hank Lynch will present at the work session show that Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood pools all have lower usage compared to RA’s 11 other pools.

As a result, staff recommends that RA consider “repurposing” the facilities. Tall Oaks and Shadowood are both currently closed for ongoing capital improvement projects.

With pools now open for the 2021 season, the staff recommendations come on the heels of a year-long evaluation by the recreation facilities work group that found a number of decades-old facilities are in need of work and repairs.

The group noted in its report that funding for these capital projects may not be sustainable without a significant increase in members’ annual assessment.

Over the next decade, RA is scheduled to spend about $40 million to operate, maintain, and address capital improvement needs on its 15 pools and more than 50 tennis courts, according to Thursday’s work session presentation.

When asked to comment about what could happen to these specific pools, RA spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email that their fate has yet to be determined:

The Facility Working Group’s work session is simply the start of the process. During the work session participants will review the Recreation & Facilities Working Group findings and recommendations on RA’s recreation facilities and the long term operational, maintenance and capital costs for such facilities. ‘Repurposing’ of some facilities may be a consideration and any decision to do so down the road, will require significant community input and discussion, involve RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee and would be the decision of the Board of Directors.

When asked if “repurposing” could mean the potential closing of those pools, Leone demurred.

“‘Repurposing’ could mean reimaging the space for a different type of amenity or use of interest to members,'” he wrote.

In general, pool usage has dropped by about 37% over the last decade, according to the work group’s data. Every pool except for Dogwood and Glade has seen a decrease in usage since 2010.

The four pools that have seen the least frequent usage as of 2019, Golf Course Island, Newbridge, Tall Oaks, and Shadowood were all built between 1969 and 1976, making them three to four decades old. It has cost about $9.6 million in total to maintain and operate them over the last 10 years.

In total, RA has spent about $33 million on pool maintenance and operations since 2010.

Budgetary concerns and lower usage aside, a number of community members told Reston Now that they want those four pools to remain open, saying they value their neighborhood pools and believe that recent usage statistics alone do not tell the full story.

Golf Course Square Cluster Association President Elmer Reinhardt says that 400 units would be affected by the repurposing or closing of the Newbridge pool.

“Newbridge pool is the only pool in Reston that you don’t have to cross a through-street to get to it,” he said. “The children can walk to that pool without ever crossing a highway, and we think that’s important.”

A resident of the community for more than 40 years, Reinhardt says he believes the recent lower usage has more to do with the population being cyclical.

“We’re seeing a huge influx of young families into our neighborhoods now and those are the ones that use the pools,” he said.

He argues that it would be shortsighted to make a decision to repurpose or close certain pools based just on recent data.

“[The demographics] change every 10 to 15 years. One year, you’ll only see wheelchairs being pushed on the sidewalks and, the next, only strollers,” he said.

RA has recently renovated several of their pools, including an ongoing and much-discussed $3.5 million facelift for Lake Thoreau. This spring, Glade pool’s slide was resurfaced, and new lighting was added.

The presentation suggests that a “seasonal indoor racket sports facility should be considered,” along with amenities sought by new RA members.

Currently, a conversation about pools is currently not on the agenda for the RA Board of Directors meeting on May 27, Leone confirms.

However, there remains a possibility that it could be added to the agenda prior to the meeting, and members can discuss it during the meeting’s comment period if they wish.

Photo courtesy Reston Association

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Monday, May 17

  • One Loudoun Carnival (5-10 p.m.) — After taking a break in 2020 due to the pandemic, One Loudoun’s annual carnival is back. Open nightly through the end of the month, the event features rides, games, and of course, the requisite funnel cake.

Tuesday, May 18

  • Questions About Demographic Change (6-7 p.m.) — Have questions about the latest Census results and the demographic changes that it’s reporting? Come ask George Mason University Associate Professor of Policy and Government Justin Gest in this virtual question and answer session organized by Fairfax County Public Library.

Wednesday, May 19

  • Ravel Dance Company presents “Coppelia” (5 p.m.) — The Ravel Dance Company in Reston is finally heading back to the stage with a performance of the comedic ballet “Coppelia.” While there remains no live audience, the performance will be videotaped and presented digitally through invitation only.

Thursday, May 20

  • Brian Boome in conversation with Jason Reynolds (8 p.m.) — Politics & Prose presents a talk between authors Brian Boome and Jason Reynolds, who will discuss his new book, “Punch Me Up To the Gods.” Reynolds is a D.C.-area native who has won awards for his young adult fiction, and Boome is presenting his memoir about his experiences growing up in Ohio.

Friday, May 21

  • Dinner at Dusk (6 p.m.) — Have the perfect date night at the Key Bridge Boathouse in D.C. The evening starts with a one-hour paddle, followed by dinner and live music along the shores of the Potomac River.

Saturday, May 22

  • Hole in One (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) — Go for a hole in one at the newly renovated Jefferson District mini-golf course in Falls Church. The course is hosting an open house for all to check out those immaculate greens. Play, put the ball in the hole, and get a goody bag as well.
  • Movies in the Park (7:45 p.m.) — Take in the 1988 John Candy comedy “The Great Outdoors” outdoors. Join the Reston Association for the latest installment in their “Movies in the Park” series. Bring a blanket, your mask, and the family to Lake Newport Soccer Field to catch a flick outside.

Sunday, May 23

  • Turtle Trek (1:30-3 p.m.) — In honor of World Turtle Day, go in search of turtles that call Reston home. Meant for all ages, the day will end with a hike to the turtle habitat at Lake Audubon.

Photo via Linnaea Mallette/Public Domain Pictures

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Recent thefts at Reston community gardens are leading to increased security and involvement of the police, Reston Association announced in a statement yesterday (May 10).

Just last week, thieves stole hundreds of dollars of plants from a community garden plot in Hunter Woods Park, Patch reported.

This isn’t the first time this has happened at the garden, which is located at 2501 Reston Parkway. Incidents of this nature date back at least two years, with thieves stealing materials, supplies, tools, and even a little girl’s garden gnome.

Reston Association previously installed a 10-foot chain link fence and motion detector lights, but that didn’t prevent this past month’s robberies.

“Before this season, there was no real fencing or locked gate,” Reston Association spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email. “So, this is the first break-in.”

The Fairfax County Police Department has received 23 theft reports from this particular community garden since last year, a police spokesperson tells Reston Now.

However, that number reflects the number of victims, rather than separate incidents, with many of the thefts occurring on the same day.

There have been six reported thefts in this past year alone, with three of them occurring on the same day. Many are happening between the months of May and July, according to the police spokesperson.

As a result, RA says it will ramp up security efforts at the community garden.

The organization is looking into upgrading the lighting and installing a trail camera that would help identify anyone coming or going from the garden. Its Central Services Facility team is also asking all gardeners to constantly check if the gates are locked and not to share the combinations with anyone.

Additionally, FCPD is increasing its presence in the area overnight to deter further thefts and break-ins.

Beyond safety concerns, gardeners spend a lot of time, money, and energy working their plots.

“We know how much the Reston’s garden plots mean to our community members,” Reston Association CEO Hank Lynch wrote in a statement. “Gardeners give their time and energy to help us manage these facilities and they get immense personal satisfaction out of growing their own plants and vegetables. We want residents of all ages to feel they can pursue this wonderful hobby in a safe and secure manner.”

The motives behind the thefts remains unclear, though one person told Patch that the nature of the stolen items and the methods used to obtain them, such as the unscrewing of wooden frames around the garden, suggest the culprits could be landscapers.

FCPD is continuing to investigate and follow-up on the reported thefts and encourages community members to report any suspicious activity they see in the garden’s vicinity.

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