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What’s Going On This Weekend in Reston?

The window for spring cleaning may be over, so there’s no harm in taking advantage of some deals (and possibly steals) from your neighbors at tomorrow’s Reston Community Yard Sale from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Around 85 families are signed up to sell a mix of items at the event, which is located in the parking lot behind 1900 Campus Commons Drive and organized by Reston Association. But before you head out, make sure to check RA’s website and social media for updates in the event of cancellation due to rain. A tentative rain date has been set for Sunday.

Earlier this week, organizers announced that ChalkFest at Reston Town Center, a popular event for amateur and professional artists alike, was canceled due to the rain forecast. The event will not be rescheduled. In any case, there’s still plenty to do in Reston over the weekend:

(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)

  • Between noon and 5 p.m. this weekend, you can drop in at the Reston Art Gallery & Studios (11500 Washington Plaza West) to take a look at art created by local first responders. The art show is called Ashes2Art.
  • End tonight with a special benefit concert by Reston’s Diva Duo at the United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive) from 7:30-8:30 p.m. The cost of admission is $25. All proceeds will help support Reston and Herndon residents who are facing crisis and at risk of losing their homes, electricity or water.
  • Don’t head to any Fairfax County libraries today, as all branches will be closed for staff training.
  • On Saturday from 8:30-10:30 a.m., the Susco 8K and 2K is back for its 11th year at South Lakes High School. The event aims to raise money for brain aneurysm research and organ donation awareness programs.
  • A former Arlington prosecutor and Fairfax County native will sign copies of his first novel, Daingerfield Island, at Scrawl Books (11911 Freedom Drive) from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Reston Regional Library reopens on Saturday. Children between the age of 6 and 11 can invent a “drawbot,” a machine built to move and draw. Participants can also take their drawbots home. The event will take place from 2-3 p.m.
  • As the Building Worlds exhibit comes to a close, the artists behind the exhibit at Greater Reston Arts Center will provide some insights on the inspiration and meaning behind their work. The event on Saturday will take place from 5-7 p.m.
  • Earlier on Saturday, one of the artists, Rachel Guardiola, will lead a sensory workshop to create artwork inspired by her work. The event, which will run from 1-3 p.m., is open to all participants 18 and up.
  • Robert Prather, author of “The Strange Case of Jonathan Swift and the Real Long John Silver,” will give a talk on the story of local pirate Jonathan Swift on Sunday from 2-3 p.m. at Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive).
  • Kids interested in dueling it out can participate in a Chess Club for Kids, also at the library on Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
  • If birdwatching is your cup of tea, you can do so at Stratton Woods Park from 7:30-10:30 a.m. on Sunday. During the walk, which is cosponsored by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and The Bird Feeder store, attendees will visit a variety of sites.
  • And if you’d rather stay indoors, there will be an open house at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue) from 4-6 p.m.

Photo via Reston Association

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Save the Date: Newcomers’ Bus Tour Set for October 13

Newcomers to Reston can take advantage of a free bus tour on October 13. The event is sponsored by Comstock.

RA is offering two bus tours between 10 a.m. and noon and between 1-3 p.m. The guided bus tour will feature stops at Reston’s “most interesting places,” including Walker Nature Center, according to organizers. Bus tours will begin and end at The Lake House (11450 Baron Cameron Avenue). Bus tour participants can also enjoy refreshments and tour The Lake House between the bus tours.

In order to participate, residents must have become RA property owners within the last six months. An open house open to all members at The Lake House will run between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Catering is provided by Kalypso’s Sports Tavern.

Registration is required for the tour.

File photo

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After Tetra Purchase, New Financial Controls in Effect at Reston Association

After months of discussion, Reston Association’s Board of Directors unanimously approved stricter financial controls, a need flagged by two in-depth reviews of RA’s $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property.

StoneTurn Group, an independent firm contracted to review the purchase and associated cost overruns, and a review by two RA members cited the need for updating RA’s purchasing and procurement policies over the last year.

The approval expands RA financial controls by requiring the involvement of multiple stakeholders in the review and approval process of contracts. The changes also clearly delineate steps required before and as contracts are considered. Major purchases require additional scrutiny and a greater emphasis is placed on competitively bid contracts.

Current policies have been criticized by some members as ambiguous and lax, resulting in a decision on the Tetra property that reviews indicate was not up to par.

All purchases above $2,500 require documentation justifying the need for purchases, at least two written quotes from competitive sources, an agreement reviewed by legal counsel and a purchase order signed by the department director, CFO and CEO.

Purchases between $5,000 and $24,999 require at least three written quotes from competitive sources. Major purchases of $25,000 and above require the issuance of a request for proposals, at least three written bids, a closed session meeting and final approval of the scope and pricing of the contract at an open board meeting.

For approval of those contracts, the approval of majority of board officers – defined as the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and a board liaison for RA’s fiscal committee — is required. Earlier versions of the resolution allowed the fiscal committee chair to partake in the approval process — a move that RA Board Director Julie Bitzer said was inappropriate because it elevated the rank of a volunteer members to that of an elected board member.

Bitzer said she was amenable to allowing the fiscal committee and its chair to contribute by providing a general review.

In order to prevent the board from micromanaging the work of RA’s staff, Bitzer also suggested receiving an annual review of contracts awarded by staff, including a categorical breakdown based on cost brackets created by the resolution.

A move by Board Director John Mooney to require all contractors or service agreements to include provisions that prevent employees from discrimination based on factors like sex, race, color, national origin and religion also passed.

“These are times that we need to speak on such matters,” Mooney said.

Board director Victoria White objected to the proposal because she said it was more appropriate to include the provision in contractual language.

“Bottom line is, it needs to have teeth.” White said.

Other board members said the inclusion of Mooney’s amendment sends a strong message of RA’s position to the community.

A complete breakdown of the resolution is available online. A recording of the board’s meeting is also on YouTube.

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Reston Association Board to Vote on Expanding Stricter Financial Controls Following Tetra Purchase

After months of discussion, Reston Association’s Board of Directors will consider a move Thursday to strengthen its procurement controls and policies in response to a third-party review of RA’s controversial $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property.

The rewrite of RA’s purchasing and procurement policies — which were last updated nearly six years ago — was recommended by StoneTurn Group, the forensic accounting firm contracted by RA to review the controversial purchase and cost overruns linked to the buildin’s renovation. A recent presentation by two RA members also flagged multiple concerns. 

“As a result of the Tetra Property Purchase Review by the StoneTurn Group several recommendations were made that the Association should strengthen, and the better document the Association’s policies and practices related to procurement and purchasing,” wrote board president Sherri Hebert in the draft proposal. Hebert was not available for comment.

The move expands RA’s current policies by building in more internal controls, stricter financial checks to avoid sole source contracting and seek competitive bidding, and improved documentation. Major purchases above $25,000 require board approval, among other levels of scrutiny.

If approved, the policies would address four broad areas: procurement rules, competitive procurement and purchasing, re-competing for services and rules governing sole service providers.

Purchases between $2,500 and $4,999 will require documentation justifying the need for purchases, two written quotes from competitive sources, an agreement reviewed by legal counsel and a purchase order signed by the department director, CFO and CEO. Currently, two verbal bids, a purchase order and a signature by any one of the above parties was required.

In addition to requirements for purchases between $2,500 and $4,999, purchases between $5,000 and $24,999 require three written quotes from competitive sources. Currently, policies require two quotations “to the extent practicable.”

The proposal also requires the approval of two-thirds of RA’s Board officers and fiscal committee chair for major purchases of $25,000 and above. Additionally, purchases above $50,000 require a request for proposals, at least three written bids, and a closed session board meeting regarding bidding process information. Approval of the final contract’s scope and pricing would occur in an open board meeting.

Currently, policies for a $5,000 contract and a $50,000 contract are generally the same.

If a sole source contract is the only option, RA must justify why one known source exists and that only one supplier can meet requirements. Individuals not authorized by the updated resolution to commit RA funds may be held personally liable for damages sustained by RA, among other consequences.

The changes also include industry-wide procedures for requests for proposals, requiring documentation like a description of technical requirements and a list of references of clients from the vendor. Service agreements will also include a conflict of interest statement affirming no conflict of interests are at play.

For those unable to attend, the meeting will be livestreamed on Reston Association’s YouTube channel at 6:30 p.m.

File photo 

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Reston Association Pays Off The Lake House Loan

Reston Association has officially paid off its million loan for the purchase of The Lake House. The board of directors elected to pay off nearly $2.42 million of the remaining balance.

Formerly Tetra, The Lake House has been hit with financial difficulties since it was purchased for $2.6 million — about twice its assessed value — in 2015. RA showed a cost overrun of $430,000 last spring, due in part to a six-figure expected rent back from former owner/tenant Tetra that did not happen. Renovations on the property to transform it into a community building have cost three times more than expected. An independent audit was requested.

RA is looking into new ways to make the facility a reliable source of income — a concern that was raised in previous RA meetings where some board members expressed dismay that RA was losing money on the project.

This year, the facility is expected to produce $224,000 in rental income. According to an RA statement, paying off the loan early will allow each member to save $8.66 on their assessment. If the facility produces target rental incomes, members can receive another $6.17 in savings, according to RA.

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The Lake House Open House On For Early December

Reston Association will host an open house on Dec. 3 at The Lake House on 11450 Baron Cameron Avenue.

During the event, which will run from 10 a.m. through noon,  community members can enjoy light refreshments, mingle with neighbors, enjoy the deck and views of the lake and discuss ideas about the space with staff.

Through a referendum two years ago, RA members voted to allow the association to purchase the property. Renovations have been completed. The board’s goal was to increase and enhance green space on the site and increase more opportunities for community and recreational events.

The Lake House is also available for rentals, which began in the summer of 2016.

File photo.

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What’s Going On Around Reston This Weekend?

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.
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Op-Ed: RA Board Failed to Protect Members’ Interests on Lake House

Lake House May 2016This is an op-ed by Reston resident Ed Abbott. It odes not represent the opinion of Reston Now. Something on your mind? Send us a letter at [email protected]

I attended last night’s meeting of the Board of Directors and witnessed the Board’s approval for funding the renovations of the Lake House.

Cate Fulkerson, the Association’s Chief Executive Officer, gave a Power Point presentation justifying the expenditure of $430,000 similar to the one that she presented to the Finance Committee on Monday.

Each Board member discussed their views after which the Board voted approval for the expenditure. As a result, both the Board and Ms. Fulkerson have failed their fiduciary responsibility in accordance with the Association’s governing documents.  Here’s why:

The Board of Directors of the Association has a “fiduciary responsibility” requiring them to act in the best interest of the corporation. This responsibility is written into the Virginia’s state corporation law. Reston Association is a non-profit corporation and has filed articles of incorporation with the state. Those articles of incorporation comply with Virginia law.

The best interest of the corporation is not well defined but most people use the reasonable person standard.  As an officer in my own corporation, I am familiar the standard. Although vague, understanding the reasonable person standard is not difficult and is often explained by asking a few simple questions.

For example, is it reasonable to spend more money than you have?  Or is it reasonable to continue to spend money on a home improvement that that is 100% over budget without knowing why?  Most people would answer these questions with an unequivocal “no.”

The Lake House is way over budget and the Board does not know with any certainty why. Also, it is not clear that the Association can afford it without significantly raising fees or cutting services.

A reasonable person, if asked to vote on a motion to continue funding the Lake House, would vote “no.” In fact numerous “reasonable” members said just that to the Board last night.

It is clear to me and other reasonable people that the Board and its Chief Executive Officer have failed their fiduciary responsibility.  That is, they have failed to act in the best interests of the Association. Ms. Fulkerson as much as admitted to such in the meeting.

It is very unlikely that the Board will reverse its action in spite of the heroic efforts of Directors Shannon and Wedell.  The Board is also unlikely to take any disciplinary action against the staff given the cavalier attitude of the other Board members.

So now what?  The only recourse is starting a recall of those members who voted in favor of the Lake House motion to continue funding. This is not easy, although the Reston Deed provides for such an action. The members of the Association must start the recall now or face increased fees or reduction in services. 

It is up to us now.  The Board has failed to protect our interests.

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Reston Association Now Taking Reservations for Lake House Rentals

The Lake House/Credit: RA

Reston Association’s Lake House Working Group is still wrapping up its work, but RA is already promoting the former Tetra property as a place for private rentals.

RA is marketing the rehabbed space as “coming soon” and as “an affordable and ideal location with its park-like grounds” as a place for:

  • Small to mid-sized weddings and celebrations
  • Corporate functions and retreats
  • Workshops and conferences
  • Private functions

After a contentious member referendum, RA purchased the property from Tetra commercial real estate in July 2015 for $2.6 million.

A working group has been meeting since October on uses for the property, which sits on a little over three acres on the shores of Lake Newport. The 15-member group is expected to make its final presentation to the RA Board at the board’s meeting on May 26, and the board is expected to vote on longterm usage.

But even without the big-picture plan in place, RA is already marketing its new after-school program, which will begin in Fall 2016. After care is expected to bring in more than $100,000 annually to the association, though operating expenses will offset about 40 percent of income.

A $650,000 contribution from developer Comstock has helped fund the exterior renovations that have been taking place the last several months. RA, which borrowed the entire $2.6 million, has said members will not see an impact due to the purchase to annual assessments until at least 2018.

At the renovated building, there are two rooms for public use. According to the marketing materials:

The Lakeside Room offers access to the deck overlooking Lake Newport and can accommodate 50 guests.

The Lake View Room can accommodate 100 guests in a natural light-filled setting with a fireplace.

The entire facility can also be rented for up to 150 guests.

Rates are $100-$275/hour, RA materials say. Reservations are available at [email protected] or by calling  703-435-6530.

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