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Public Art Reston selected the artwork “One, Two, Tree” as next year’s installation for Lake Thoreau (courtesy Public Art Reston)

Next year, the Lake Thoreau spillway will feature a nature-inspired public artwork created by South Lakes High School’s STEAM team.

The 10-foot tall installation was designed to embrace Reston’s natural environment with a “modern twist,” according to Public Art Reston. Viewers will see a forest from one perspective and a single tree from the other. Students plan to illuminate flowers fastened to the tree’s branches.

The design was selected by Public Art Reston’s selection committee, which narrowed down submissions to three concepts.

In order to fund the project, the STEAM team is selling calendars that feature nature photography by Reston resident Mary Prochnow. Calendars can be purchased online or in-person at the Reston Museum.

The art club has been creating artwork on the lake spillway since 2014. It is led by South Lakes art teacher and working artist Marco Rando. Projects are supported by Public Art Reston and Reston Association.

This year’s artwork — titled “Rise” — was inspired by Reston’s rapid development.

A renovation of Lake Thoreau pool has been completed (courtesy Reston Association/YouTube)

The renovation of Reston’s Lake Thoreau pool has officially been completed in time for the 2024 pool season.

Construction on the project at 2040 Upper Lake Drive began in the summer of 2022 after a nearly seven-month-long permit approval process.

“The renovations at Lake Thoreau pool provided some much needed improvements and expansions to make the site fully ADA compatible, ensuring it is accessible for all Restonians,” Reston Association said in a statement. “In addition, the community will find new improvements to the spa as well as a new elevated deck, which will offer additional opportunities for relaxation.”

The new, roughly $3.5 million facility includes a pool with six lap lanes, a ramp to provide ADA access, a redesigned deck, a larger 25-space parking lot, an overlook with a pollinator garden, and expanded bathhouses, which have been moved away from the spa.

The bathhouse has also been fully gutted and replaced with a 400-square-foot addition that includes a family bathroom.

Lake Thoreau pool has been closed since 2020 in anticipation of the renovation.

An initial groundbreaking in the winter of 2021 was delayed due to extended contract negotiations, according to RA. Unforeseen sight repairs and site conditions pushed the opening out of this year’s pool season into next year, RA announced in July. 

A new Shadowood pool is currently under construction and expected to open in time for next year’s pool season, which typically begins in May.

Photo courtesy RA/YouTube

Algae blooms at Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon, seen in mid-November, appear to have resolved (via Reston Association/Twitter)

With a new month on the horizon, algae blooms at three lakes in Reston appear to be turning a leaf.

Warnings to avoid making contact with Lake Anne and Lake Audubon have been lifted after an algae bloom took over some parts of the lakes since mid-November.

A spokesperson for Reston Association, which manages the lakes, told FFXnow the decision was made after evidence of algae was no longer present.

Out of an abundance of caution, however, a warning for Lake Thoreau remains in place, according to Reston Association.

Blooms of algae emerged in Thoreau and Audubon early this fall and lingered as a result of the season’s warm weather, according to RA. Another bloom was spotted in Lake Anne on Nov. 16.

At that time, RA urged residents to avoid contact with the water, though the risk of incidental exposure risk is low during this time of the year.

Staff decided against treating the bloom, which would have disrupted oxygen levels in the lake, potentially harming fish and other wildlife.

Photo via RA/Twitter

Reston Association plans to let algae blooms at Thoreau and Audubon lakes run their natural course (via Reston Association/Twitter)

Updated at 3:40 p.m. — An algae bloom was spotted this morning in Lake Anne,  joining blooms on Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon, Reston Association says.

“At this time, Reston Association has determined that treatment of the blooms would not be beneficial, as a mass die-off of algae after treatment would cause a dip in otherwise healthy oxygen levels, therefore posing significant risk to fish and wildlife in the lake,” the organization said, advising residents and pets to avoid contact with the affected lakes.

Earlier: Reston Association plans to let algae blooms at Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon run their natural course.

In response to concerns from the community about the blooms, RA said that treating them could disrupt oxygen levels in the lakes, putting fish and wildlife at risk.

“While we understand concerns about the algae bloom, especially this late in the season, our experts believe that leaving the bloom to run its course is more likely to result in a balanced outcome,” RA wrote in a statement on social media.

RA says it will continue to monitor the situation.

RA confirmed to FFXnow that the blooms are the same ones that emerged in mid-October. At the time, the scope of the bloom on Lake Thoreau was limited, but it contained potentially harmful cyanobacteria, leading RA to advise avoiding contact with the water.

“These blooms arrived quickly at the onset of fall turnover, which mobilizes nutrients from the bottom of the lake into the rest of the water column,” said Cara O’Donnell, RA’s director of communications and community engagement. “Typically, a fall turnover bloom like this would subside quickly, but we’ve had unseasonably warm weather this fall that is causing the bloom to linger longer than anticipated.”

Lake Audubon also had a bloom this summer that was cleared in August.

A partial algae bloom is present on Lake Thoreau (via Reston Association/Twitter)

An algae bloom has taken over a portion of Reston’s Lake Thoreau.

In a statement released yesterday (Tuesday), Reston Association said the bloom contains “potentially harmful cyanobacteria.”

“It is advised for residents and their animals to avoid contact with the water at this time and remain attentive to any signage posted around the lake,” RA wrote.

Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms found in all types of water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Harmful cyanobacteria can produce toxins and block sunlight that other organisms need to live.

As of earlier this morning (Wednesday), the bloom was limited, according a spokesperson for RA. The association expects to determine if the bloom is expanding or shrinking today.

“With the cooling temperatures, we don’t anticipate treatment will be necessary; however, if the bloom lingers, we will consider treatment options,” Cara O’Donnell, RA’s spokesperson, said.

There are currently no restrictions on boating or fishing, but residents are encouraged to wash any areas that have direct contact with the lake.

When the bloom subsides, signage will be removed.

Reston typically sees a couple of cases of algae blooms every summer. Algae spotted in Lake Audubon in early August was deemed potentially harmful, fueled by a water main break that also killed some fish in Snakeden Branch stream.

A rendering of the future, renovated Lake Thoreau pool (courtesy RA)

Pool-goers will have to wait another pool season to enjoy Reston Association’s renovated Lake Thoreau and Shadowood pools.

In an announcement on Monday (July 3), RA said the Lake Thoreau pool (2040 Upper Lake Drive) will not reopen this season due to “unforeseen” repairs, site conditions, and delays associated with permitting and weather. The pool is expected to open next year, with anticipated grand reopening in the start of the new year.

The new, roughly $3.5 million facility will include a pool with six lap lanes, a ramp to provide ADA access, a redesigned deck, a larger 25-space parking lot, an overlook with a pollinator garden, and expanded bathhouses, which have been moved away from the spa.

“We regret this announcement as much work has been done and we were excited to share it with the membership,” RA wrote in a statement.

Work on Shadowood pool (2201 Springwood Drive) is expected to continue through the fall and winter. The project was delayed because of “unanticipated repairs” after the main pool was demolished, along with weather-related delays, according to RA.

The pool, first built in 1976, has been re-plastered several times. Major changes planned with the renovation include refurbishment of the pool, squaring, repairs to the bathhouse roof, flooring and exterior lighting, and the conversion of a wading pool into an interactive splash pad.

Construction costs hover around $1.1 million.

A spokesperson for RA did not immediately return a request for comment from FFXnow.

The Lake Thoreau pool is under renovation (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Reston Association’s pool season has officially kicked off, although the opening date of Lake Thoreau pool is not yet known for this season.

The complete pool schedule — which is divided into five seasons — is available online.

RA says it has hired 85% of its lifeguard staff, overcoming labor shortages that often plague these positions. Last year, two pools were temporarily closed when staff members contracted COVID-19, but staffing was generally not an issue.

“Seasons four and five toward the end of the summer continue to be the most challenging for aquatics staff recruitment and retention as students return to school and start fall activities,” RA spokesperson Mike Leone said. “We continue to recruit lifeguards.”

North Shore’s heated pool and spa and Ridge Heights heated pool opened first on May 13. RA is actively hiring for more lifeguards online.

It’s still unclear if and when Lake Thoreau Pool, which is undergoing major renovations, will open this year.

Leone said the decision will depend on the timing of the project’s completion and approval from RA’s Board of Directors.

“At this point, the pool is close to 70% completed and we anticipate an early September completion,” he said.

Construction on the project is nearly 65% complete (courtesy RA)

The massive renovation of Lake Thoreau’s pool is likely to be completed by late August or early September.

Reston Association spokesperson Mike Leone told FFXnow that the renovation is on track to finish later in the summer. If it’s completed by early September, RA’s Board of Directors will determine if the pool will reopen this year, since only a few weeks would remain in the pool season.

“It is a timing issue,” Leone wrote in a statement.

So far, the project is roughly 65% complete, according to a recent Reston Today video, which is produced by RA.

The new, roughly $3.5 million facility will include a pool with six lap lanes, a ramp to provide ADA access, a redesigned deck, a larger 25-space parking lot, an overlook with a pollinator garden, and expanded bathhouses, which have been moved away from the spa.

The pool has been closed since 2020 and was scheduled to break ground two falls ago. In the latest update to the RA board, staff reported that the pool was roughly one month behind schedule.

Chris Schumaker, RA’s capital projects director, said work on ADA-compliant areas is underway. An ADA ramp will lead to the main area, and the future elevated deck will extend from the edge of the pool and overlook the lake area.

Schumaker also said an issue with the retaining wall prompted a relocation of the new spa — a move that allowed the area to become ADA-accessible and cover a larger footprint.

“Due to retaining wall issues on the site, we had to relocate the spa,” Schumaker said.

The bathhouse has also been fully gutted, leading towards the 400-square-foot addition’s completion. It will also include a family bathroom.

In the fifth and last phase of RA’s pool season, only three pools are open from Sept. 5 through Sept. 24.

The Lake Thoreau Pool is under renovation (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The renovation of Lake Thoreau Pool is roughly one month behind schedule, according to Reston Association staff.

At an RA meeting on March 23, capital projects coordinator Chris Schumaker said the delay is approximate due to unforeseen conditions.

“We are forecasting four-week delay due to site conditions,” Schumaker said.

So far, the project is roughly 50% complete. The pool base, retaining walls, propane tank and concrete structural supports have been completed.

Construction on the structural steel component of the deck, the storm drain, and parking is in progress.
Schumaker also said the addition to the bathhouse is on hold due to a problem with a sanitary sewer connection in the area.

Despite the unforseen delay, Schumaker said the pool’s reopening is still slated for sometime in the summer.

“We still hope to have an opening sometime in the last summer of this year,” he said.

Lake Thoreau’s pool has been closed since 2020 for the renovation project, which was originally scheduled to break ground two falls ago.

The new facility will include a pool with six lap lanes, a ramp to provide ADA access, a redesigned deck, a larger 25-space parking lot, an overlook with a pollinator garden, and expanded bathhouses, which have been moved away from the spa.

The project is expected to cost roughly $3.5 million.

The artwork, pictured in its complete form, was removed from the platform (courtesy Public Art Reston)

Cerebral, a public art piece created by South Lakes High School’s STEAM club on the Lake Thoreau spillway, is officially no more.

There are no plans to install the sculpture after high winds loosed its joints and its pieces fell into the lake and beyond last weekend, according to SLHS art teacher Marco Rando.

The sculpture is the first to fail because of the elements and the seventh installation overall placed by the club on the spillway.

Rando said that, although the sculpture is designed and engineered for extreme elements using hurricane ties, the winds damaged some of the joints.

“The tie down cables worked to keep the elements secured to the concrete base even when half sculpture fell into the lake,” Rando said. “Fortunately the wood members of the sculpture allowed the work to float, this helped in towing the work to shore where it was disassembled in smaller pieces for transport back to the school.”

Because of the significant damage to the sculpture, the team decided not to focus on reassembling.

But it won’t be long before another sculpture will take its place. Students are currently working on a new concept — “Rise” — that will face “more engineering scrutiny” to buttress the sculpture to weather more natural elements.

“The team is very confident this year’s concept will be aesthetically beautiful with added structural details to withstand the erratic weather conditions that seem to be common of the current climate change. The students of STEAM Team take great pride in serving the community,” Rando said.

He says setbacks like the structural failure of an artwork are a learning experience for all.

“Such setbacks will only strengthen the students experience, this real world problem, which occurs on professional levels as well, affords the Team opportunity to examine and resolve issues before they are unsettled,” Rando said.


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