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Reston Association headquarters (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Reston Association has adopted a new strategic plan that aims to continue the vision of Reston’s founder Bob Simon over the next three years.

At a meeting last night (Thursday), the Board of Directors approved the strategic plan, which guides the organization through 2026 with little fanfare.

After obtaining input from “a small panel” of board members in early fall 2023, RA staff developed a first draft of the 2024-2026 strategic plan that was presented to the full board in January. The plan is intended to improve the organization’s communication and fiscal responsibility, while charting a new course for capital projects and building a “dynamic workforce.”

Now that the plan is adopted, staff will create an implementation strategy, according to RA CEO Mac Cummins.

The strategic plan is guided by a mission statement tasking RA with preserving and enhancing the Reston community through leadership, service and stewardship of its resources. The founding principle is putting “the importance and dignity of everyone as the focal point of planning.”

It lays out six broad objectives that focus on communications and engagement, partnerships and advocacy, member experience, fiscal responsibility, strategic capital improvement and the workforce.

At the meeting, board member Jennifer Jushchuk said she was unhappy with the diction of the objective related to supporting a dynamic workforce, lamenting that there isn’t a greater emphasis on recognizing and appreciating volunteers.

“I don’t wanna sit here and word-smith,” Jushchuk added, as the hours-long meeting inched toward 11 p.m.

Board director Jalal Mapar cautioned the board against “getting in the weeds.”

“This is a strategy goal,” he said. “It’s not intended to be that detailed.”

After some discussion on how to shift the objective, the board moved to adopt the plan. Cummins said staff will present the board with an implementation plan in the coming weeks following the hiring of several key positions, including a chief financial officer.

A table near the fountain at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A thorny set of issues continues to complicate Deli Italiano’s arrival in Reston’s Lake Anne Plaza.

The Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB) voted Tuesday (Feb. 20) to defer a decision on the application after attorney John Cowherd, who was representing an appealing Lake Anne condominium owner, flagged some concerns about the proposal.

Alec Berry, a member of the Lake Anne of Reston Condominiums Unit Owners Association (LARCA), has appealed conditional approvals by the DRB and LARCA — entities that considered the project separately — of the architectural plans for the restaurant.

Berry, who lives behind the restaurant’s planned unit at 1631 Washington Plaza, said he was concerned metal equipment, an exhaust shaft, an exhaust pipe, gas line and louvres would be installed on LARCA common space, not in the commercial unit, which is owned by Baslios Family Real Estate.

Berry asserts that he has an exclusive easement to an area where the restaurant plans to install a shaft, equipment and gas lines. The front facade of his house faces the back of the property, and the front of the restaurant faces Washington Plaza.

According to Cowherd, he was also concerned about a contractor that cut a large hole through LARCA’s common elements that separates the floor of Berry’s unit and the restaurant. The slab provides strucural support and is essential to protecting the home from a grease fire in the restaurant.

“I just don’t think this shaft project is really moving Reston or LARCA forward. I think it’s going to kind of hold things back with respect to this particular building,” Cowherd said.

Cowherd said Berry is awaiting a books and record request to LARCA in order to get more information about the drawings, architectural approvals, and documents referenced in Deli Italiano’s application and decision-making process.

The board deferred the appeal to allow staff to look into those issues following a discussion held in executive session.

Deli Italiano has been working on plans for the Reston location for several years. A spokesperson said the company was not ready to comment by press time.

Deli Italiano opened a restaurant at 700 Lynn Street in Herndon in December 2022. It serves pizza, pasta, subs and more.

Look Dine-in Cinemas at Reston Town Center (file photo)

A popular tradition for local cinema-loving seniors is returning to Reston Town Center this month.

In conjunction with Reston Association, Look Dine-in Cinemas will host “Senior Movie Day” for the first time since it opened at 11940 Market Street late last fall. The event offers free screenings of popular films for adults aged 55 and older on the fourth Wednesday of each month.

The event’s revival will kick off on Feb. 28 with a showing of “Downton Abbey: A New Era.”

In a statement, RA Director of Recreation Laura Kowalski said the association is excited to bring back the event in partnership with Look Cinemas and Reston Town Center.

“Not only has Senior Movie Day been one of RA’s most long-standing events, it’s also one of the most anticipated and popular all year,” Kowalski said.

No registration is required, and the event is free. Doors open at 9:15 a.m. for refreshments and socialization, followed by the beginning of the movie at 10 a.m.

The next scheduled screening will be “Top Gun: Maverick” on March 27.

Senior Movie Days were put on hold after Bow Tie Cinemas, the space’s previous occupant, closed in May 2022. Started in 1994, the program had attracted more than 100,000 patrons over the years, RA previously told FFXnow.

Look Cinemas opened up its dine-in movie theater on Nov. 1. The 11-screen venue is the company’s first and, so far, only location in Virginia.

Reston Association (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Two of three races for Reston Association’s board of directors will be competitive in this year’s election, which takes place in March.

Four seats are open on the nine-member board.

Three candidates are running for two at-large directors seats that go for three years. Three people are also vying for one seat as apartment owners’ representative.

The race for South Lakes District representative — a three-year term — has one candidate: current board member Jennifer Jushchuk.

Voting will unfold from March 1 to April 1 and is open to all Reston Association members “in good standing,” who can cast online or mail-in ballots, RA said in its announcement of the candidates.

Here’s a breakdown of each race based on submitted statements from each candidate:

At-large candidate (three-year term)

Izzy Santa: A Reston resident since 2014, Santa works as a senior director of government affairs for a Fortune 500 company and has served as cluster homeowners’ association president. In the past, she advocated for pedestrian improvements near Sunrise Valley Elementary. She hopes to improve existing amenities managed by RA and prevent member assessment increases.

Jalal Mapar (incumbent): Mapar, who has lived in Reston for more than 30 years, is a senior executive. He hopes to implement a strategic plan for maintaining Reston’s infrastructure as development grows, improve service to membership and focus on fiscal responsibility.

Darin Skelly: Skelly, who moved to Reston in 2005 and is a vice president at a Fortune 500 company, wants to get Reston more of a voice in Fairfax County decisions, protect it from “crazed” growth and development, and make Reston the best community in the country.

South Lakes District (three-year term)

Jennifer Jushchuk (incumbent): A Restonian since 2014, Jushchuk is a trade association executive and mother. She also co-founded Save Our Sunrise, a South Lakes group that focuses on issues along Sunrise Valley Drive. She hopes to focus on fiscal responsibility, advocacy, resource management and improved communication.

Apartment Owners’ Candidate (two-year term)

Carolina Mejia: Mejia says her experience on nonprofit and corporate boards and as a RA volunteer would be assets to the board. She hope to boost community engagement, improve financial sustainability and maintain infrastructure.

Margaret Perry (incumbent): A resident of Reston for 13 years, Perry has served on the board twice. She describes herself as a strategic thinker and problem solver, and hopes to focus on working with senior management on a strategic plan for Reston.

Lynda McCann Ovington: A resident of the Reston Glades apartments since 2013, Ovington says her previous experience on other boards will help her serve RA’s board. She hopes to work closely the rental community and provide consistency with services.

The Barton Hill tennis courts in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 10:30 a.m. on 2/6/2024) After more than a year of impassioned and often acrimonious public testimony, Reston Association will drop plans for pickleball courts as part of the renovation of Barton Hill’s tennis courts.

At a meeting on Jan. 25, the RA Board of Directors voted to remove pickleball courts from the scope of the renovation, which had inspired passionate testimony from both pickleball lovers and neighboring residents concerned about safety, security, parking and the noise associated with the burgeoning sport.

Board director Jennifer Jushchuk, who proposed removing pickleball from the renovation, said she was impressed by the level of public engagement on the proposal.

“I feel like we’ve pitted members against members, and I don’t think that was ever the intention of the board that approved it,” she said, adding that she hopes RA can determine the scope of pickleball needs in the community.

“I just don’t think we got there with Barton Hill,” Jushchuk said.

Most board members said they were concerned about the disproportionate impact of pickleball on the surrounding community.

“I have to be sympathetic to the needs of the people who actually live in the community,” said director Travis Johnson.

Some of that debate continued at the Jan. 25 board meeting.

Residents like Laura David, who lives on Harper Square Court, pressed the board to look for more appropriate places for pickleball that wouldn’t disturb neighboring communities with noise.

“Let’s think outside of the original box we all had, which was to look at Barton Hill,” David said.

Others like Hayes McCarty, a Reston resident for more than 50 years, said RA’s board should take into account noise studies it commissioned that found average noise levels created by pickleball fall below limits enforced by Fairfax County’s noise ordinance.

“The association paid a lot of money for these studies. These people are experts, and I think we have to listen to what they have to say,” McCarty said.

As the plan moved through approval process, RA scaled back plans for pickleball at the facility, which currently consists of four unlit tennis courts built in 1985 at 1901 Barton Hill Road.

Last September, RA reduced its plan for the facility from six to four dedicated pickleball courts and two dedicated tennis courts, removing blended lines that would have allowed both tennis and pickleball uses. Now, all of the courts will be for tennis.

Some board members were dismayed with how the decision was rolled out.

Board director Margaret Perry said she wants RA to brainstorm alternatives for other pickleball locations before voting against its inclusion in Barton Hill. Her motion to delay the vote to the board’s March meeting did not gain traction, and she ultimately voted against removing pickleball from the project.

(Correction: This story initially said Margaret Perry voted for removing pickleball.)

Board president John Farrell said he was particularly concerned with how some board members justified nixing pickleball, noting that neighboring residents often have concerns about the addition of any new facility or program to the community.

“No way in hell am I going to give the neighbors a veto over serving the other 63,000 people [in Reston] and I’m disturbed that I heard some of my colleagues suggest that that’s the fundamental analysis,” Farrell said. “I hope that’s not the case.”

Townhomes in Reston’s Waterview cluster are among the Lake Anne residences served by RELAC (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Over 600 Lake Anne area residents served by the now-defunct Reston Lake Anne Air-conditioning Corporation (RELAC) may soon be responsible for installing their own air-conditioning units.

After historically requiring certain residences to utilize RELAC, Reston Association’s Board of Directors will hold a referendum vote next month to change its restrictive covenant to accommodate other cooling services and options.

RELAC announced in December that it will no longer provide cooling services, starting this year. The company cited increasing electrical costs and challenges with securing a $400,000 loan to install a new chiller.

RA’s current deed states that no individual AC units of any type are allowed in any residential clusters where central air conditioning service are available to the lot line.

The association is not responsible for the efforts of RELAC, which is regulated by the State Corporation Commission.

“Our Board of Directors determined that a referendum is the first step available to Reston Association to provide affected members with an opportunity to decide in advance of the approaching summer heat whether or not to have individual air conditioning units,” Cara O’Donnell, a spokesperson for RA, wrote in a statement.

At a Jan. 25 board meeting, RA board president John Farrell emphasized that RA does not “own, control, or regulate” RELAC. Due to its restrictive covenant, homes in six clusters covering 601 residences can’t use AC independent of RELAC unless a member is medically excused to do so under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Members expressed frustration on the issue at the meeting. Some pleaded with RA to consider offering RELAC one year of life support to allow clusters and condominium associations to determine next steps.

“We are all left with just an enormous task at our feet at the 11th hour before summer starts. I’m very concerned about my fellow community members and their health and welfare,” Restonian Susan Giesse said.

Jeff Crowe, a resident of the Waterview Cluster, questioned the need for a referendum vote when RA’s covenant appears to only apply to residential clusters where central AC service is available to the lot line.

“The obvious question is, ‘why should a vote have to pass at all?'” Crowe said. “The covenant only applies if air conditioning service is available to the lot line. Affected members have been notified that such service will not be. Is Reston prepared to guarantee that air conditioning service will be available to the lot line for all affected members for the forthcoming cooling season? For how many years after?”

As RA prepares for the vote, some members have coalesced to form a co-op that would manage water service for the 2024 cooling season. Simon McKeown, a Hickory Cluster resident and chair of the co-op’s steering committee, signed a memorandum of understanding on Dec. 28 with RELAC to create the foundation for the co-op structure, according to Patch.

If the referendum passes, RA’s covenants department will work with members to limit delays as AC applications make their way through the design review process.

Members of the Design Review Board will also work with each cluster to help establish cluster standards for HVAC systems.

“An established cluster standard for HVAC, will aid each individual member in having a good point of reference for HVAC installations and make the application process (if applicable) more simplified,” RA said.

Some members can seek a temporary health exemption to install individual air conditioning units in their homes.

Public hearings on the referendum vote are slated for Feb. 5 and Feb. 12. On Feb. 13, ballots will be mailed to voting members, who must return the ballots by March 8. Results of the referendum will be announced at a special meeting of the board of directors on March 13.

A Kiwanis Polar Dip — a replacement for the Virginia Polar Dip — will be held in Reston next month (courtesy David Madison Photography)

A Tysons-based organization is bringing a polar dip to Lake Anne Plaza in Reston.

The Kiwanis Club of Tysons plans to host the event on Feb. 10 at Lake Anne Village Plaza (1609 Washington Plaza North) to raise funds for Reston-area organizations. The event is organized in partnership with the Lake Anne Washington Plaza Merchants Association.

Check-in opens at 12:30 p.m., and jumping begins at 2 p.m. The club hopes to raise $25,000 for Food for Neighbors, Friends of Reston and Kiwanis youth programs in the area. A portion will also go towards Camp Sunshine, which provides a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses.

To supplement the event, the merchants association will host a winter market with opportunities to shop and take part in children’s crafts and other activities. Registration is open online.

Sponsors of the event include Reston Association, Reston Community Center, Fairfax County Cold Water Dive Team, Kalypso’s Sports Tavern, Quickspin Quick Planning and photographer by Scott Ripley.

The Kiwanis Club of Tysons was founded in 1998 and is part of Kiwanis International, a worldwide community service organization that includes adult clubs and youth service clubs.

Camp Sunshine had previously organized a polar dip at Lake Anne Plaza, a run that ended last January. Known then as the Virginia Polar Dip, the event raised over $1 million over 18 years.

Reston is likely not a target in the quest for a new casino (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 9 a.m. on 1/23/2024) Reston will be dropped from consideration for a future casino in state legislation filed last week by state Sen. Dave Marsden (D-35).

In a letter to members, Reston Association CEO Mac Cummins confirmed that Marsden agreed to exclude Reston as a possible location for a casino. Instead, Tysons — specifically an abandoned auto dealership — is the target of the controversial project.

“This is due significantly to the outreach from RA and its membership and we thank Senator Marsden for meeting with us, listening to the concerns of our community and taking action that addresses those concerns,” Cummins wrote in the statement.

Since news of the proposal surfaced late last year, community opposition has mounted against a future casino in Reston. Reston Patch reported in October that Reston Station developer Comstock had its eyes on a casino near the Wiehle-Reston Metro Station.

Reston Association’s board of directors issued a statement last fall opposing the potential casino, urging its members to advocate against Marsden’s impending bill before the General Assembly convened for its 2024 session on Jan. 10.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn has also expressed opposition to the possibility of a casino.

“I want to reiterate that I am against a casino in Hunter Mill District and will continue to work to defeat any legislation that could lead to what I consider a bad outcome for our community,” Alcorn wrote in a newsletter to constituents last week.

The proposal was assigned to a Senate subcommittee on gaming last week and appears on its docket for tomorrow (Tuesday).

Cummins described the news as a “positive turn and one that shows our legislators are indeed listening to the views of the community.” Reston Association says it will continue monitoring the bill as it moves through the legislature.

FFXnow previously reported that a former Aston Martin and Bentley dealership in Tysons is the likely location for the future casino.

If the bill passes, Fairfax County voters would still have to approve a referendum to allow a casino. Virginia currently has five localities eligible for a casino.

This story has been updated to better reflect the status of the casino bill, which hasn’t officially excluded Reston. However, state Sen. Dave Marsden has said he’ll introduce an amendment that will take Reston out of consideration.

Reston Association (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

In an effort to amplify its voice on land use issues, Reston Association’s Board of Directors voted earlier this month to create a land use committee that will advise it on planning and zoning issues.

The board formalized the creation of the committee on Jan. 4 after tweaking its scope and overall purpose. The committee will create draft positions on relevant issues and provide recommendations to the board.

A majority of the board touted the proposal as a way to elevate the voice of RA and its membership on development and land use decisions, which have become a top focus of the community following Fairfax County’s adoption of an updated Reston Comprehensive Plan last year and anxiety about the possibility of a casino.

Board president John Farrell noted that members would be able to provide their recommendations directly to the land use committee.

Board director Jennifer Jushchuk said the committee addresses a concern about the effectiveness of RA’s advocacy on land use issues that she often hears in the community. Board member Jalal Mapar agreed that the committee allows RA to project its power.

“The number one thing that stands out for me is that RA needs to be forward-leaning and RA needs to be involved 1,000 percent,” he said. “The game has changed. It’s 2024. We’ve learned our lessons from the developments that were done where RA did not really have a strong voice.”

In the past, Larry Butler, RA’s longtime chief operating officer who retired last year, attended many land use committee meetings and was the point-man on relevant issues.

“Larry’s gone and so, things have changed,” Laurie Dodd, the board’s North Point district representative, said. “It’s time for [us to] formalize the voice of RA, and this is a way to do with a group that is responsive to the board and to the association.”

But the move was met by some consternation from three board members who voted against the proposal.

Board member Robert Petrine, RA’s treasurer, said he was concerned about the amount of time and resources that would go into maintaining the committee.

At-large board director Trevor Grywatch said he was unsure if an advisory committee constituted “the voice of our membership.”

Margaret Perry, the board’s apartment owners representative, also noted that RA needed more time to hash out the specifics of the committee.

“I don’t think we are there,” she said.

The committee will be composed of up to seven voting members with three-year terms. They’ll be supported by a land use planner and subject matter expert — a position funded in RA’s recently adopted budget.

RA CEO Mac Cummins, who supported the overall effort, said the board should ensure the committee’s work is not simply rehashed when issues are discussed by the board.

“If you’re gonna have a committee do all this work and you’re gonna re-litigate it all again till 2 a.m., you haven’t necessarily gained,” Cummins said.

The board of directors is now seeking candidates for the new land use committee, asking anyone who’s interested to contact Board Liaison Brittney Copeland at

State Sen. Dave Marsden is expected to file legislation authorizing a voter referendum on a casino in Fairfax County for the 2024 General Assembly session (via Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash)

State Sen. Dave Marsden (D-35) has yet to unveil his planned bill to authorize a casino in Fairfax County, but Reston Association is going all in to prevent it from becoming law.

Following up on a formal statement of opposition approved in October by the board of directors, RA CEO Mac Cummins released a letter to the organization’s members yesterday pledging to take “decisive action” to block the possibility of a casino, which he characterized as a potential threat to “the residential character of our community.”

“We have decided to actively oppose the proposed casino and encourage our legislators to oppose this proposal as well,” Cummins wrote. “Our primary goal will be to preserve the quality of life in Reston for the over 60,000 people who call Reston home.”

Marsden, whose district encompasses Annandale, Springfield and George Mason University, joined Del. Wren Williams last year to introduce legislation that would’ve added Fairfax County to the small list of localities in Virginia eligible for a casino.

The bill specifically required the casino to be built in a mixed-use development that’s located outside the Capital Beltway and within a quarter-mile of a Silver Line Metro station — criteria that limited potential sites to Tysons, Reston and Herndon.

While the identical bills were withdrawn just days after being introduced, word that Marsden planned to revive the proposal, if reelected, emerged in September. Patch reported that Reston Station developer Comstock is seeking to build a casino near the Wiehle Metro station, though Marsden has argued it would be a better fit for Tysons as part of an entertainment district.

“That’s becoming Fairfax County’s downtown, and we want to locate it on the Silver Line because that’s what the Silver Line was built for,” Marsden told FFXnow in the fall, noting that his goal is to give the county the option to have a casino.

The ultimate decision would lie with Fairfax County voters. Only five Virginia localities have approved casinos after voters in Richmond shot down a referendum twice, including one on the ballot in November, leading its backers to concede defeat.

Expected to be filed within the next week, Marsden’s proposal for the upcoming General Assembly session will be different from the previous bill, possibly calling for a performance space and conference center as part of the envisioned “entertainment district.”

Increased capacity for large gatherings was among the needs identified by the Tysons Strategic Plan released in December by the Tysons Community Alliance, which hasn’t taken an official stance on the idea of a casino.

Even without the official text of Marsden’s bill available, Cummins said in his letter that he will advocate against the legislation at the Fairfax County General Assembly delegation’s pre-2024 session public hearing tomorrow (Saturday). He and some RA board members also plan to make their case in Richmond after the session starts next Wednesday, Jan. 10.

Cummins encouraged RA members “to join our efforts to safeguard our vibrant future,” stating that the organization will provide updates on its website. His full message to Reston residents is below. Read More


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