Tammi Petrine, a community advocate, challenged current director Julie Bitzer for her South Lakes District seat at a Reston Association candidate forum Tuesday night.
Critical decisions regarding public amenities took center stage at the forum, including whether or not to close Shadowood Pool – the most underutilized pool in Reston – and the Lake Thoreau Pool – which requires nearly $1 million in repairs.
Petrine said she would need to gather more information and conduct a stakeholder analysis by speaking with residents before reaching a final decision. She also stated the need to issue multiple bids for projects to ensure RA gets the best deal for services.
“The pools are an amenity that people in Reston expect. At the same time, we have to analyze carefully how they’re used and why or why not they’re not used,” Petrine said.
Bitzer said the board will have to decide whether or not to keep Lake Thoreau’s pool open next year, although she noted that residents she spoke with want to keep the pool open. She also plans to propose a measure to conduct a needs analysis of Reston’s pools.
As RA struggles to strike a balance between capital spending priorities like indoor tennis and soccer, Bitzer said the community should look into public-private partnerships like installing a tennis academy at Hidden Creek Country Club with special benefits for RA members.
In contrast, Petrine took a hard stance against funding indoor tennis for what she said was a “small demographic” and a mere “commercial activity,” especially because the community is “fighting for our lives with density” and aging infrastructure.
“An absolute no,” she said.
Frustrations on limited county resources, including the beleaguered call for a recreation center, for Reston were high at the forum. Petrine said she is “100 percent furious” that the Hunter Mill District is left out of the county.
Similar concerns arose in the candidates’ discussion around a controversial plan to increase Reston’s population density as major developments come in the pipeline.
“My gut reaction is: where is the infrastructure you promised me when you put in the Metro?” Bitzer questioned. She said she opposes the population density increase and was appalled about Reston’s lack of workforce housing.
Petrine, who has been instrumental in organizing the Coalition for a Planned Reston, a grassroots organization opposing the plans, said she has taken steps to fight back against the plans “in defense of our balanced community.” She encouraged community members to raise their voice in opposition, noting her experience in observing the intersection between RA and other stakeholders.
“The only thing that matters to our supervisor is mass agreement by citizens that this is not what we want in Reston,” she said.
Both candidates took similar stances on the need to utilize the Lake House. Bitzer suggested adding programming for aquatics and fishing education, similar to the Walker Nature Center.
“Not everything should cost you to use something you own,” she said.
They also posed similar ideas on how to ensure the board operates as an effective and respectful governing body.
Bitzer said holding “open houses” was a sign of respect. “It’s respectful of our community, not just board behavior,” she said.
Petrine is running on a slate with Travis Johnson, Sridhar Ganesan and John Bowman. When asked if it offered her an unfair advantage, she defended the move, which she said was logical given the candidates’ shared views, common goals and commitment to Reston’s core principles.
Bitzer, who described herself as self-funded candidate, said the issue of slate candidates is a fairly new development that has prompted questions by community members. Unlike the slate candidates who sent mailings to constituents, Bitzer said she could not afford major print distributions.
Instead, she will host a public listening session on March 13 at the Walker Nature House.
Photo by Reston Association
The property manager of Shadowood Condominiums has prepared an item-by-item response to concerned condo owners, who have been passing around a list of 30 issues as the board election at Reston’s largest condo neighborhood approaches.
The residents’ complaints range from secrecy among the condo board to crime to poor upkeep, among others. See the full list in this previous Reston Now article.
Theresa Zivanovic, Shadowood’s General Manger, says she also shares some of the concerns as she is a resident of the complex.
However, she said the list of complaints contains a number of “statements that are just factually wrong.”
Read the full letter from management below.
Shadowood has had a history of issues over the last several years, including a case in 2012 about the limits of the board to impose fines and rules on owners. That case went all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court.
There was also a political battle in 2012, when condo owner Brian Olivia headed the board and ran “Shadowood in a manner that caused Shadowood to to sue him last year to recover damages for harm down to Shadowood,” current board chair Tom Summakie said in an email to owners.
More than half the units are occupied by renters, so most owners live off-site. Nearly two dozen units are owned by Fairfax County, which offers them as Section 8 housing.
A group that calls themselves “Concerned Co-Owners at Shadowood” has sent a list to other owners of 30 complaints about the neighborhood and its board.
“Are you fed up with or even know that these things may be occurring?” the email reads. It points out that the community website has not been updates in more than a year, that the board dos not communicate with residents, that rules are not enforced and that common areas and properties are dilapidated, among other complaints.
From the “Concerned Co-Owners of Shadowood”:
Absolutely NO communications from the board over the past year? No newsletter? No email notices? No rule enforcement?
Outdated Shadowood website that is little more than a [Board officer] Daniel Chambers fan club? With his family and buddies featured but little useful information posted?
No current minutes? No current audits? No budgets? Thousands of our condo fees used to create and “maintain” this fan club website?
Where is the transparency the current board long ago promised?
When are the board meetings? Are they held in secret? Is proper notice given for each board meeting as the law requires?
Dilapidated property. Is there graffiti in your stairwell? Litter all over the property? Dangerous playgrounds with trash, condoms, needles and damaged and dangerous play equipment?
Trash dumpsters infested with rodents and looking like the county dump?
Chemicals left out for our children to see and get poisoned?
Dead trees and overgrown vegetation on the property? “Flowers” planted? Where?
Where are the promised FHA and VA financing certifications?
Daniel Chambers is getting paid by Shadowood, thousands of your condo fee dollars, as a self serving “consultant”?
The wife of one of the board members is an SCA staff member?
The board are getting their telephone service and computers paid for by Shadowood? Using our condo fees?
Increasing condo fees (but terrible maintenance) without any warning or notice? Doesn’t the law require open discussion about condo fees and require advance notice?
Board meetings on Christmas Eve?
The staff getting paid big bonuses for giving out the parking decals? Parking decals that were not issued on time by the board’s own rules and regulations?
Elimination of the $38 Comcast cable and internet bargain we previously enjoyed? Are you now paying $125 or more for less service? Do you have to pay for all of your Comcast boxes now?
Unenforced rules? Packs of unsupervised kids running around the property at all hours of the day and night? Damaging your cars and other property? Stealing? Smoking and drinking? Isn’t Shadowood a smoke free property as the website boast?
A murder at Shadowood this summer! See: http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/reston/2015/05/17/suspect-dead-after-home-invasion-in-reston/27502285/ (Editor’s note: There was a shooting death but it was later determined to have been from a fight among acquaintances and not a home invasion).
Stairwell tiles that are faded and pulling up? Rusty stairwell members? Are they even safe? Broken notice boards and mailboxes?
Special parking privileges for the board and their families?
Board meeting minutes not released for over a year?
Raising the condo fee and bundling all the utilities together? Our condo fees are outrageous at nearly $500 a month while property values decline.
The board of directors suing a former board member and defunct management company and dropping that lawsuit? After spending tens (or hundreds) of thousands of our condo fees on that lawsuit?
The board of directors settling a lawsuit against a former board member and paying the board member $12,000 of our condo fees?
Is the board of directors improperly spending our condo fees to endorse the current president and treasurer?
Is the current board president misusing association resources to solicit proxies and sending defamatory messages on association letterhead?
Has Fairfax County Housing, owner of more Shadowood units than anyone else, delivered on its promises to assist the association and provide counsel and guidance?
Are your property values dropping, while your condo fee skyrockets? Did a recent unit sell for $180K or less when the board is boasting that units are “market valued” at $200k and more?
Does our community have a nickname of “Shadowslum”? “Shadodump”?
Does our community have a drug problem?
Has the current board worked with the police to address crime, drugs and the out-of-control thugs?
These are just a few of our concerns. If you have others, please reply to this email with your concerns. We will take them to the board and the Common Interest Community Ombudsman and Reston Association for action if appropriate or we will assist you in doing them.
Summakie said in an email that he shares some of the concerns of the residents, but there are also many factual errors on the list. But there are also lots of exaggerations and errors — no bonuses have been paid to the staff, no board meetings have been held on Christmas Eve, all board meetings have been publicly noticed, the management sent to the owners many communications during 2015, he said.
Summakie pointed out in a letter to owners that in the two years since Olivia was replaced on the board, the board has significantly reduced expenses and bank debt and has lowered owners’ assessment fees. Shadowood will also have a security camera system installed soon, he said.
Summakie is also concerned about Chambers, who served on the board from 2007 to 2014. Chambers is running for re-election to the board, and Summakie called him “deceitful and dangerous when in a position of authority,” in the letter to owners.
Chambers, who served as a paid consultant to the board in 2015, says he cares about Shadowood. He says assessments have risen 15 percent and that there is a lack of transparency, among other complaints about the board.
“There are issues,” he said of Reston’s largest condo complex. “But these are good people. My philosophy is we need to be a board and deal with the higher level issues and not be a maintenance management board. The major problem right now is very simple. We have a board that is overwhelmed, and when you are overwhelmed you do what you can to keep treadmill going before you fall off.”
An otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon turned deadly last May when a fight broke out on Stoneview Square at Shadowood Condominiums in Reston.
First reported by police as a home invasion, it later was determined a group of men who knew one another got into a fight. One person fired a gun. A man was dead and another injured.
Rashad Kejuan Daye, 24, was killed in the altercation at the residence of Kevin Baldwin, 22. Baldwin was not charged in the incident, police said, because the shot was fired in self defense in his home.
Others are facing charges, though the death is not being investigated as a homicide.
Jalan Merrill, 21, of Herndon, was charged with robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Also arrested were Eddie Rodriquez, 22, of Woodbridge, and South Lakes High School student Dominique May, 18, of Reston. Both were charged with robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Whether to pursue May’s and Rodriguez’s cases are still being pursued by a Fairfax County Grand Jury. Merrill’s was considered Nolle Prosequi (the case will not continue) by a judge several months ago.