Reston, VA

Wheelock Communities, the owner of Hidden Creek Country Club, says it will continue to move forward with community engagement on the future of the golf course, even though Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says he has does not support the redevelopment of the site.

In a statement Dan Green, principal of Wheelock Street Capital, said his company was “extremely disappointed” in Alcorn’s statement, which referenced little to no community support for the project.

Green says his company has received support from some adjacent clusters and many of the club’s neighbors,  as well as other residents in Reston.

“This is an unprecedented show of support when an application has not yet even been filed,”  he wrote.

Over the last two years, the company has hosted focus group meetings to pitch its preliminary plan for a 100-acre park and 1,000 residential units on the golf course, as well as to court public feedback on the future of the golf course.

Although a development plan has not been filed, doing so would require an amendment to the Reston Comprehensive Plan.

Wheelock did not immediately respond to a request for comment on next steps and when a development plan would be filed.

Photo by Richard Knapp

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn has made a clear statement on the future of Hidden Creek Country Club — whic owner Wheelock Communities hopes to redevelop into a 100-acre park with 1,000 residential units: the golf course will remain a golf course.

Based on a review of communication from residents to his office, Alcorn says there little to no support for redeveloping the site.

“There are more than five residents against for every supporter of possibly changing the plan,” Alcorn wrote in a statement released Friday. “Therefore, I do not support changing the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan’s current designation of this property as a golf course and consider this matter closed.”

He noted that much anxiety and uncertainty exists surrounding the possible redevelopment of the site.

A representative of Wheelock Communities told Reston Now that discussions about the future of the golf course are “all work currently in progress.”

As of July 2018, the company held three work sessions to discuss how “the property could benefit the Reston community and Fairfax County by creating significant public open space versus current private use,” according to a statement distributed to the community.

“We want to be clear that none of this is currently in the form of a development proposal,”  the spokesperson told Reston Now.

Wheelock purchased the golf course in Oct. 2017. Previous presentations by Wheelock to the community, including a Sept. 2018 discussion before Reston Association, drew intense criticism from the community.

In July 2020, representatives for Wheelock detailed preliminary plans for the site, including creational facilities, a “broad spectrum” of affordable housing, and new public trails.

Alcorn encouraged residents to continue using the golf course in order to preserve its status as a golf course for the foreseeable future.

Although I do not play golf (just once in the past 33 years) I do recognize that the long-term use of this property as a golf course depends on people willing to pay to play golf. I encourage members of the community who wish to see this property remain a golf course to pick up the game and go play!”

Reston’s two golf courses — Hidden Creek and Reston National — have been bought by developers seeking to redevelop a portion or most of the properties into housing. But a grassroots efforts led by Rescue Reston, a grassroots advocacy group, staved off the development proposal at Reston National several years ago.

Wheelock did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the next steps for the site following Alcorn’s statement.

Photo by Richard Knapp

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Monday Morning Notes

New Roles for County Bus Drivers — Fairfax County Public Schools’ bus drivers are taking on new roles during a hiatus in in-person learning. Some were matched with temporary jobs based on their skill set. [NBC 4]

Volunteers Sought for Laptop and Book Distribution — Volunteers are “greatly needed” to help schools in Reston and Herndon, according to Fairfax County Public Schools. Volunteers can sign up to help with curbside library book distribution, weekend food distribution packing, helping with laptop distribution, and other tasks. [Fairfax County Government]

Virtual Appraisal Roadshow Set for Tomorrow — Reston Association is hosting a virtual appraisal roadshow from 11 a.m. to noon tomorrow (Tuesday). Experts will be on-site to educate the audience about facts and the worth of items selected by residents. [RA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Walking Tour with Alcorn Cancelled — A walking tour and work session with Reston Association’s Design Review Board and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn has been canceled. The work session was intended to go over plans for the Reston Town Center North parcels. [RA]

County Creates School Support Page — The county. Has created a new landing page that offers the latest resources and links to information for Fairfax County s students and their families. [Fairfax County Government]

Dulles Chamber to Honor Herndon Mayor — The upcoming Metro Monday by the Dulles Chamber of Commerce will honor Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel and discuss the future of retail in the upcoming year. [Dulles Chamber]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan by Christopher Land to build 26 single-family homes on nearly 13 acres on Floris Lane.

Christopher Land plans to build the homes on a site at the south end of Floris Lane in the Spring Lake Estates community. The property currently has two single-family homes that were built in the 1950s.

The developer laid out two possible plans for a stormwater management facility on the site, which was a flashpoint between neighbors and the developer.

At a Sept. 15 board meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he was hopeful neighbors and the developer can agree on ways to improve the area lake. 

“The applicant can go ahead with a base plan or an alternate plan. They can put stormwater facilities on their property or jointly contribute to improving the nearby lake,” Alcorn said.

A five-foot-wide sidewalk is planned on either side of the two private streets in the neighborhood.

The site was rezoned for increased density from R-1, which allows one dwelling unit per acre, to Planned Development Housing, which allows two units per acre.

Vernon Miles contributed reporting to this story.

Photo via handout/Fairfax County Government

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Pandemic Boosts Use of W&OD Trail — “Whatever the preference for use – running, walking, biking,  riding scooters, maybe even roller skating – the popular 45-mile Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Regional Trail has become much more busy, according to users, during the COVID-19 pandemic.” [InsideNOVA]

Nearby: Search for Endangered Juvenile Underway — Genisis Garcia was last seen on September 7 at 8 a.m. in Bailey’s. The 11-year-old is endangered due to her age. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Board Chair of Shepherd’s Center Receives Award — “William “Bill” Farrell, Board Chair of Shepherd’s Center serving Oakton-Vienna-Reston-Herndon (SC) has received the Hunter Mill District Community Champion Award…. As part of the annual Volunteer Service Awards, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors selects an individual to be recognized for their commitment to promoting volunteerism within their community while addressing specific needs.” [The Connection]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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County officials are considering a plan to no longer dispatch police officers to non-violent incidents.

At a meeting earlier this week, Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn pushed the county to dispatch unarmed medical, mental health and human services workers for incidents involving mental and behavioral health issues. The proposal was unanimously approved by the board for consideration.

County staff will review the local dispatch and response system in order to “enhance our Diversion First strategies by implementing systems for the deployment of trained unarmed medical, human services, and mental health professionals in instances where mental and behavioral health are the principal reason for the call.”

The new system would model Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS), an approach adopted in Eugene, Oregon since 1989. The county will determine if a similar approach is suitable for Fairfax County based on potential initial costs, long-term budget savings, overall feasibility, and the expected impact on service.

The county’s Public Safety Committee will review the county’s findings and offer a recommendation to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors by Oct. 1.

Roughly 20 percent of calls that FCPD officers respond to are primarily related to mental and behavioral health crises.

In a board matter, Lusk noted that FCPD should “endeavor to be the smartest” and not only the “safest” jurisdiction of its size in the nation.

Currently, only 40 percent of county officers are trained in crisis intervention.

Body camera footage of a white Fairfax County firing a stun gun at a Black man in Gum Springs led Lusk and Alcorn to push for the board matter. Officer Tyler Timberlake shot La Monta Gladney with a stun gun and used his knee to hold him down. Gladney was speaking incoherently prior to the use of force incident as officers persuaded him to go to a detox center.

A copy of the board matter — without the motions —  is below, after the jump.

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Fairfax County officials want to address looming childcare challenges ahead of the upcoming school year.

John Foust and Walter Alcorn, the supervisors for the Dranesville and Hunter Mill districts, presented a joint board matter yesterday to tackle the “unprecedented need” for childcare.

When classes start again this fall, Fairfax County Public Schools is planning to offer two systems: fully online and hybrid learning — a mix of in-person and online instruction. Working parents, especially ones who don’t work from home, now have to figure out childcare options, which have been complicated due to the pandemic.

Alcorn and Foust said that the county may have to expand its role in child care options depending on great the need is.

“For the sake of the children and their families it is essential that good quality child care services be made available,” the board matter said. “It is also critical to advance the county’s efforts to restart our economy that those parents who work but do not normally need childcare when schools are fully open can work and contribute to economic activity.”

County Executive Bryan Hill said that the county has 2,000 childcare providers: “The first thing we want to do is fill them up.”

Chairman Jeff McKay said that childcare providers he’s talked to have said that they are concerned about surviving the pandemic.

“Oddly, their businesses hurt more than most because what they are worried about is a ton of people now teleworking and not needing daycare,” McKay said.

The Board of Supervisors approved the board matter, which directs county staff to work with FCPS and to update the supervisors on how the county can provide additional resources and support.

“Even in the best of times, the infrastructure for childcare in Fairfax County is not adequate,” Foust said yesterday. “And these are far from the best of times.”

Photo by Shirota Yuri on Unsplash

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Last night’s town hall with Fairfax County’s police chief covered a variety of issues related to police reform, from progress on the demands made by Fairfax County NAACP to body-worn cameras.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn hosted the meeting last night to give locals a chance to provide input and ask questions. The conflict-free town hall mainly focused on Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. answering questions from audience members and explaining FCPD’s policies in detail.

Roessler highlighted the reforms made by FCPD since the shooting of John Geer, an unarmed Springfield man, in 2013. They have shifted towards a “co-production” method of policing, which emphasizes the importance of community engagement by bringing in advocates to review issues and discuss police report narratives.

A big goal of the police department is to increase diversion of tasks, including sending mental health or substance abuse cases away from the police. Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who is the chair of the county’s Public Safety Committee, also emphasized that the current range of issues diverted to the police is “too much to ask of them” and is in support of the Diversion First model.

The chief addressed terminology that the public wanted to be defined, including the FCPD’s definition of the use of force as “anything beyond a guide or escort, or above putting handcuffs on.” Roessler said that anything beyond that is subject to investigation. Additionally, he clarified that chokeholds are prohibited in Fairfax County.

Roessler also touched on the development of body-worn cameras. He said that the idea has been in the works since June 2015, and he wants to adopt the co-production model of community engagement in this development.

He says they are making “great progress” on this project and that the policies regarding the cameras are addressed online in an American University pilot program testing the same model of body camera policies. They plan to evaluate the body cameras again in-person in September to ensure the policies are exceeding community expectations.

Roessler discussed the evaluation and promotion process of officers, saying that evaluation begins upon application. He described a thorough path of training that officers go through before assignments. Additionally, they value community engagement when evaluating candidates for senior staff positions to ensure officers “embody the spirit of what the community needs for the future.”

“We want our officers to engage with the community members in a positive fashion, not just calls for service,” Roessler said in describing what they look for upon officer evaluation.

Other issues covered included the presence of the MS-13 gang, to which Roessler said they “will be relentless on gang activity in Fairfax County.”

When asked how the police department addresses domestic and sexual violence, Roessler said they use the Lethality Assessment Program — Maryland Model to assess the situation and connect victims with immediate help, such as counselors, attorneys or volunteers from the community.

Photo via Youtube Live

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After a variety of issues and delays, Silver Line’s Phase Two is now aiming for completion in spring 2021.

Updates on the second phase of the Silver Line were briefly mentioned due to time constraints during the Transportation Committee yesterday. Phase Two will connect six new stations to the Wiehle-Reston East, bringing Metro riders out to Ashburn.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that he briefly talked to Paul Wiedefeld, the general manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, last week.

“He assured me that — at least as of early last week — the Phase Two opening is still on track for next spring,” Alcorn said. “I’m sure there are probably a dozen ways that that can change, but for now, at least it is moving forward, according to that schedule.”

Phase Two is 98% complete overall, according to the presentation for Martha Elena Coello with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

The project has faced several delays, from train control software issues to flawed rail ties. The presentation addressed the ongoing issues the project has faced, including:

  • concrete panel deficiencies
  • concrete ties/cross level deficiencies
  • fouled ballast
  • automatic train control
  • insulated joints replacement

Work is expected to finish on the new rail, systems, stations and yard later this year or early 2021.

Recently, “substantial work” wrapped up on the garage at the Innovation Center Metro station, according to the presentation. The garage, which costs roughly $52 million, is 98% complete and awaiting its official occupancy permit, according to the presentation.

Bus loop work is expected to be done at the Herndon station garage this month.

The presentation also provided an update on the bus service plan for Phase Two. Currently, Fairfax County is seeking public input on the plan.

More from Fairfax Connector:

Welcome to the Reston-Herndon Area Bus Service Review final round of public input!… Fairfax Connector is considering a variety of options to improve bus service to, from, and around the new stations in Fairfax County.

Our previous round of outreach proposed three bus transit service alternatives, each with their own set of unique characteristics. We ranked the alternatives based on coverage, average travel times between key origin-destination pairs, and ridership potential (see right). We also listened to what Connector riders and nonriders had to say through several public meetings and an online survey. Based on feedback received, the preferred alternative presented today is cost-neutral, and includes the best elements of the three originally proposed scenarios and existing service.

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is inviting locals to join his upcoming virtual event with Fairfax County’s police chief.

Alcorn plans to host the virtual town hall with Chief of Police Edwin Roessler Jr. from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1.

Hunter Mill District residents can join in the discussion on the police department and the community by asking questions or providing input on policing topics, according to an email from Alcorn’s office. People who cannot attend the event live can email questions to the Hunter Mill District Office.

Participants will have a number of ways of joining the town hall, which will be hosted on Webex.

People can either register to attend via Webex, watch on YouTube Live or listen in by calling 1-408-418-9388 and using the access code 129 359 7948.

Once the event ends, the YouTube video will be available on the Hunter Mill District website sometime on Thursday evening, according to the email.

Alcorn photo via Supervisor Walter Alcorn/Facebook, Roessler photo via Fair

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Friday Morning Notes

Planning for Reston’s Ultimate Population — “In discussing the need for the plan study, Alcorn acknowledged that most of the initial planning of Reston was based on the master plan Robert Simon created when he established the community in the 1960s. It’s only been in the last decade or so, as Reston has undergone redevelopment, that comprehensive plan language has been updated.” [Reston Patch]

Man Assaulted on North Shore Drive — A man was treated for injuries at a local hospital after two men assaulted him on the 11400 block of North Shore Drive at around 1:11 a.m. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Reston Firm Acquired by French Company — “Reston-based managed security firm Paladion will be acquired by Bezons, France-based information technology company Atos. A transaction amount was not disclosed.” [Virginia Business]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Though the work to update Reston’s comprehensive plan was slowed by COVID-19, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that a new committee created to find solutions to issues and demands is still making progress.

The roughly 28-person task force started meeting in early April, a month after originally planned, and has spent over eight hours in meetings, according to Alcorn.

So far, the committee has touched on topics such as:

  • ways to promote public art
  • how to encourage diversity and inclusion
  • long term population accommodations
  • community space and land use

Since Alcorn’s election, he said that the revision of the comprehensive plan was his top priority. “There were a lot of things that were left out and need additional attention.”

As phase two of the Silver Line makes the area more accessible to the greater D.C. region, it has “coincided with some really strong economic activity,” Alcorn said at a press conference on June 25. He added that the number of technology companies and government contractors has increased, meaning that the original community plan put forward by Bob Simon is in need of revision to accommodate changes.    

Though some see economic growth as a positive opportunity others disagree since they don’t like the “cookie-cutter, industrialized subdivisions that we have seen around many metropolitan areas in the country,” Alcorn said, noting that Simon’s idea focused around a tight-knit community feel.

“We’ve been through a time where different parties have staked out their territory and if anything this is like a truth and reconciliation process,” Alcorn said, adding that it has been a type of  “growth war.”

Despite concerns of community members, Alcorn said he sees an opportunity to build other hubs around transit centers in the area that are responsibly designed, sustainable and attractive so they don’t negatively affect the preexisting Reston community.

In the comprehensive plan, there is currently no population plan for Reston’s build-out and though there has been an attempt to take that into consideration in zoning ordinances, this isn’t enough, according to Alcorn — since it doesn’t cover the entirety of the community.

Though Alcorn didn’t get into the weeds about public art at the committee meeting, he said this will help to promote the original ideals and morals of the area, noting that he wants to stay away from the “industrialized” feel.

Going forward, Alcorn said he sees finalized changes being made to the comprehensive plan around the middle of 2021. “That’s the target, to have this wrapped up next year.”

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A report showing that Black people are disproportionately involved in use-of-force incidents is prompting familiar calls for reform.

Fairfax NAACP president Sean Perryman is calling on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to address the disparity, which has been on the books for six years.

The latest report, released yesterday (Tuesday), shows that Black residents are involved in nearly 46 percent of use-of-force incidents, even though they make up less than 10 percent of the county’s population. The disparity is less prominent in the Reston District Station.

Perryman is also calling on FCPD to release more data on use of force, including why a stop may turn into a use of force case.

“I don’t understand why the county doesn’t have a sense of urgency about providing that data to us,” Perryman said. “My suspicion is that that data will be much worse than the use of force data.”

He added that he is unsurprised by the data he has seen thus far — which is largely consistent with racial disparities throughout the country.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn pitched a three-pronged approach to address the issue.

Alcorn told Reston Now that the body-worn camera should be quickly implemented throughout the county. Currently, three district stations, including Reston, use the devices.

The role of body-worn cameras in reviewing use of force incidents – as partially implemented in Fairfax County – has already proved useful in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax County earlier this month,” he said.

Alcorn also said that the county needs to “double down” on community policing.

This is especially important when most of our police officers do not live in the county and do not have many opportunities outside of duty to get to know county residents,” he said.

On a broader level, Alcorn also says that the county needs to shift to another first responder model that does not rely on armed officers or use of force.

Many of the community needs for which police are currently called do not involve violation of laws.  Examples include crisis counseling, suicide prevention, conflict resolution, and a wide range of mental health and behavioral issues.  Creating an unarmed first response unit for these and similar community needs would mark a major step beyond the old model,” he said.

Ashley Hopkins contributed reporting to this story 

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Reston Strong, a local community advocacy group, offered a direct message when residents covered a Confederate monument in front of the old Fairfax County courthouse with tarp and white duck tape over the weekend.

The issue has prompted Fairfax County elected officials to request a complete report of Confederate street names, monuments and public places in the county.

Although the black tarp and tape that smother the statue was removed within an hour after installation on Sunday, the group says that it is time for the county to remove the 1904 granite monument that honors Confederate Capt. John Quincy Marr, who died roughly 800 feet from this marker in 1861.

The hashtag #restonstrong was written over white duck tape around a Confederate monument late last week as local residents. Some local and state elected officials have bowed to public demands to remove statues and monuments honoring Confederate leaders in recent weeks.

Located at 4000 Chain Bridge Road, the monument is dedicated to Marr, the first Confederate officer killed in the Civil War. “Union cavalry attached the city at 3:00 a.m. on June 1, 1861. The Warrenton rifles commanded by Marr defended the city,” according to information recently taken down by Fairfax County’s tourism board.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will discuss the issue at a meeting later this afternoon. Providence Supervisor Dalia Palchik and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn plan to request a full inventory of Confederate names in public places in Fairfax County. The monument is located in Palchik’s district.

“Fairfax County residents stand together with fellow Americans in support of the recent movement for racial justice, brought on by the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others,” the board matter reads. “This powerful call for equity has brought attention to Confederate monuments and place names throughout the County, and the painful history they symbolize.”

Reston Strong issued the following response to today’s board matter:

We would like to Thank Supervisor Palchik for her response however we are saddened to note her motion while timely, fails to directly address our ask. We understand this topic is more polarizing than most and sincerely hope the below sentiments from our members will give our leaders the strength needed to take immediate action.

REMOVE – “It’s literally trauma!! The statue doesn’t erase the history! But the statue does remind my people each time they are disposed, mishandled in the judicial system where this statue resides that things will always be unjust and unfair, we’ve gotta take it, swallow it and keep hoping one day we will be free for real #free-ishsince1865″ – Candace Wiredu-Adams

RELOCATE – “Move it to a museum. We can’t just throw our past away. People wouldn’t believe the holocaust existed without seeing certain artifacts. We need to have these tangible items to provoke the emotion. We can’t just have pages in a textbook saying a statue was taken down.” – Rebecca Johnson

REPLACE – “I think markers at the places of important events is great. Nothing like standing right where it happened and reflecting. However, I don’t think we need monuments to people. So to me, two different things. I think the markers are a good reminder of history and where it happened (in some cases in our own backyard!). Glorifying people, not so much.”  – Colleen Montgomery

Photo via Reston Strong

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