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An electric vehicle charger at the Sully Community Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Reston Association is charging up to potentially take part in Fairfax County pilot to get more homeowners’ associations (HOAs) on board with improving access to electric vehicle chargers.

The pilot program, Charge Up Fairfax, would facilitate EV charging by residents in multi-family housing, especially HOAs and condominium associations, by circumventing technical and financial challenges linked to installing stations.

“This program aims to assist HOAs with the installation of publicly available shared charging stations,” said Cameron Adams, RA’s director of covenants administration, in a recent Reston Today video.

The program would also provide support to multi-family communities to install charging stations in common areas. The county would work with HOAs and other groups to install stations in publicly accessible locations that they own.

In the first phase of the program, the county will work with HOAs to identify possible locations and survey the community. This exploration phase will be followed by reviewing by data gathering and community engagement, after which a contractor and equipment will be selected.

Grants would be structured to reimburse communities up to $5,000 for the installation and upkeep of the charging stations. Some communities may be eligible for up to $10,000.

RA expects to hear back from the county on how it can apply to take part in the pilot in the spring, according to Adams. Installation could begin in July — a move that is entirely dependent on funding.

The county’s Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination is seeking $830,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to move forward with the project. The grant application was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a Jan. 24 meeting.

At a Nov. 9 meeting with the county last year, RA members provided feedback on their EV needs and discussed the program. RA’s participation in the program has been proposed since at least late September, when county staff discussed the pilot program with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The program follows the passage of state legislation that establishes the right of electric vehicle owners to access charging stations. The bill, passed in 2020, bars home and condominium owners from prohibiting the installation of stations under certain conditions.

Still, many challenges remain, including the cost-inhibitive nature of installing and maintaining stations, as well as stringent local regulations on their installation and use.

RA was among the first HOAs in the country to establish design guidelines for electric vehicle charging stations, following a 10-month process in 2021, according to Adams.

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Reston Association (courtesy RA)

Reston Association’s Board of Directors filled an at-large seat vacated by board member Glenn Small in November. 

At a Thursday (Jan. 26) night meeting, the board voted to select Travis Johnson — who has lived in Reston for a total of 14 years — over competitors Trevor Grywatch and Jeff Spurrier.

Johnson said he wants to ensure that Reston remains a good place to raise children.

“I love it here, we love it here and my goal is to help Reston remain a fantastic place to raise my family,” Johnson said at the meeting. 

He has two daughters: a high school senior and a sixth-grader. 

Johnson said he hopes to leverage his experience at large consulting firms to better RA as an organization. 

“What I’d like to do with the board is to help identify processes that don’t work and identify processes that do work,” he said. 

Johnson ran for a seat in 2018. Two other candidates for the seat removed their names from consideration prior to Thursday’s meeting. 

Four other seats remain open for the next election, which takes place in March. 

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COO Larry Butler will retire in the summer after more than 40 years with Reston Association (courtesy RA)

Reston Association‘s COO Larry Butler is officially retiring after more than 40 years with the organization.

His retirement comes after a lengthy career with RA that began when he took a position as a seasonal employee in the spring of 1982.

“Most memorable for me are the life-long friends I have made with the staff and many in the community with whom I have worked,” Butler said.  “For the next chapter of my life, I look forward to many adventures including hiking, biking, fishing and spending more time with my family and friends — preferably in the woods somewhere.”

In a press release, RA said Butler was instrumental in starting RA’s lakes and watershed management programs. He also spent several years on the North American Lake Management Society’s board of directors and served as the organization’s president.

Although he left Reston Association in the mid-1990s to work for the Ashburn Village Community Association, he returned to serve as RA’s director of parks and recreation.

He also helped with fundraising efforts for the Nature House, converted the Southgate Pool into a county-operated community center, and helped with the installation of the Browns Chapel Little League Field.

Butler’s colleagues lauded him for his contributions to the organization.

“He has truly been Mr. RA. The familiar face of the organization for decades bringing continuity and stability even during some rocky times,” RA President Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza said. “The RA Board is forever grateful to Larry for his leadership, historical knowledge, and most of all his service and commitment to Reston and all Restonians. He will truly be missed.”

RA CEO Mike Cummins called Butler’s impact on the community “profound.”

“He has served in nearly every capacity in our organization and has led our operations and various services in leadership capacities throughout his career here,” Cummins said. “The community owes him much, and the staff is blessed to have had a chance to work with him.”

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The Barton Hill Recreation Area in Reston is slated for upgrades (via Google Maps)

Reston Association is poised to share updated plans for the renovation of Barton Hill tennis courts earlier this year.

Staff are prepared to host an early spring meeting to share the update plans to upgrade the tennis courts following a legal disagreement with a county that prompted RA to remove lighting upgrades from the plan.

The proposal to host a meeting in early spring will go before RA’s Board of Directors at a meeting on Thursday (Jan. 26).

Last year, county zoning staff said that RA needed to develop a Planned Residential Community plan to install court lighting. Despite an appeal by RA, the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals reaffirmed that county’s zoning administrator’s decision.

Instead of pursuing additional legal action, RA chose to drop court lighting from the renovations.

“Reston Association staff ire pared to host a meeting in early spring to share the update conceptual plans of the project,” according to draft meeting materials.

The renovation includes the installation new pickle ball courts and the refurbishment of court surfaces.

The tennis courts were developed as a PRC zoning district in 1985. Four unlit tennis courts with a single water fountain and a nine-space parking area are located on the site. A neighboring parking lot has 19 parking spaces.

Photo via Google Maps

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Dawn at Lake Thoreau in Reston (photo by Terry Baranski)

A new workgroup focused on ensuring the equitable enjoyment of Reston’s lakes for all is seeking members.

Formed on Dec. 15 by Reston Association’s Board of Directors, the Lakes Equity Work Group aims to “maximize the enjoyment of Reston’s four man-made lakes for all RA members, their families and friends,” according to a release by RA.

So far, the group plans to create an equity framework to delineate current use policies, usage disaggregated by demographics and ways to focus on equity and improved access for all. Some focus areas include improving access to lakes, equal opportunities for recreation and the installation of non-discriminatory signage and use policies for all.

RA’s Board Operations Committee will interview candidates at their Feb. 6 meeting, after which the board will select the final members at its Feb. 23 board meeting.

The eight-member group will include one voting RA staff representative and two non-voting staff liaisons.

The application can be found online. It asks candidates to detail their relevant experience and what their goals and objectives would be for the working group. Applications are due by next Friday (Jan. 27).

The group plans to begin work in March. A draft report is set to go before the board in the fourth quarter of the year.

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The latest installation is inspired by Reston’s rapid growth (via SLHS STEAM Team)

Rise, the ninth art installation by South Lakes High School’s STEAM team, will bring a set of high-rises to Lake Thoreau’s spillway.

At a meeting before Reston Association’s Design Review Board on Tuesday (Jan. 17), students said the new concept is inspired by the growth of Reston’s population and emergence of high-rise construction — an ode to the community’s goals of “reaching new heights in progress, innovation and diversity.”

The project, which is currently in the planning phase, includes rectangular shapes with different colors, levels and sizes, representing the different layers of Reston’s community. Here’s from the STEAM team on the inspiration of the sculpture:

Our community is host to a colorful combination of nationalities, sexualities, and cultures, all of which complement one another and ensure prosperity. The variety of colors and rising levels showcased by our sculpture are meant to depict these groups which build upon one another, helping our community reach its aspirations and Rise above any barriers we may face. This sculpture, symbolic of our love for this city, illustrates Robert E. Simon’s actualization of a town “closer to hearts desire” of its residents

The model — which is the team’s tallest project to date — is made of tinted plastic, while the white sections will be covered with designs inspired by public art around Reston.

The team plans to make the frame out of smaller cubic units to separate the building. The blocks will be connected by bolts and brackets to cluster the buildings, and extra braces will support the structure.

Materials for the project include lumber, disband paneling, strata class, solar panels and cables.

The team raised roughly $6,000 to complete the project, largely through crafting at a local event, an exhibition at a local restaurant, and calendar sales.

Students plan to begin fabricating the model in February, with installation expected sometime in May or June, according to presentation materials.

Unlike previous years, the team hopes to complete installation before the end of the school year, SLHS student Sophia Pakhom said.

In response to a concern about possible light pollution, DRB chair Michael Wood noted that light spillage is going to be “pretty minimal.”

However, he encouraged the team to paint the wooden base white to avoid detracting from the rest of the design.

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The Lake Thoreau renovation project is on track for opening this year (via Reston Association)

A substantial renovation to Reston’s Lake Thoreau pool is 25% complete, putting the multi-million dollar project on track for opening by the 2023 pool season.

Demolition, regrading and structural support for the elevated deck are officially complete, according to Chris Schumaker, Reston Association’s capital projects director. At a Dec. 15 board meeting, Schumaker said the planned addition to the bathhouse will begin shortly after the New Year.

“We’re currently holding on schedule and anticipate opening sometime during the 2023 pool season,” he said.

Fine grading, structural steel work and concrete work is in progress for the pool basin, he told the board.

The project could see delays due to weather impacts — but currently no delays are anticipated.

On-site work at 2040 Upper Lake Drive began over the summer. The facility has been closed since 2020 for the renovation project, which was first set to break ground in the fall of 2021.

The renovated facility will include six lap lanes and a ramp to provide ADA access, a redesigned deck, a larger 25-space parking lot, an overlook with a pollinated garden, and expanded bathhouses.

The project is expected to cost roughly $3.5 million.

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A November dawn at Lake Audubon in Reston (photo by Ray Copson)

Lake Audubon — a man-made lake in Reston — may soon chart new waters with a new name.

Reston Association’s Board of Directors has begun preliminary conversations to consider launching a community dialogue on potentially renaming the lake, which is named after 19th century artist and known enslaver John James Audubon.

The move, pitched by at-large director John Farrell, would kickstart a community dialogue on the possibility of a name change. Early next year, Farrell and others will host an exploratory meeting with area stakeholders to discuss whether or not there is interest in changing the name of the lake.

“It seems to me that there needs to be a reconciliation of our fundamental founding principles of inclusion with this guy’s history,” Farrell said at a Dec. 15 board meeting.

Audubon enslaved at least nine people and was publicly dismissive of the abolitionist movement.

Earlier this month, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to rename Lee District to Franconia District. The effort is part of a series of moves to disentangle the county from names honoring Confederate leaders.

Farrell pointed to two articles from Audubon Magazine that highlight Audubon’s history, which state that he enslaved several people and didn’t recognize black and indigenous people as equals. They also highlight a story in which Audubon returned a family of escaped slaves to their enslavers and say the ornithologist was “prone to exaggeration,” writing about discovered birds that did not exist.

In October 2021, the Audubon Naturalist Society — a major US conservation group — said it will change its name due to the “pain” caused by Audubon.

“The deliberate and thoughtful decision to change our name is part of our ongoing commitment to creating a larger and more diverse community of people who treasure the natural world and work to preserve it. It has become clear that this will never be fully possible with the current name,” ANS Executive Director Lisa Alexander said in a news report on the issue.

Audobon is famed for his studies of American birds.

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A proposed Little Free Library for Thunder Chase Drive in Reston (via Reston Association)

As they turn the page on 10 years of marriage, a local couple is looking to mark the milestone by giving back to the community.

Molly Bloudoff-Indelicato is seeking Reston Association‘s approval of a Free Little Library near the walking path between 12700 and 1652 Thunder Chase Drive. She pitched the idea as a gift to her husband, Greg.

“We are hoping to share our love of reading with the community,” said Greg. The couple has lived in Reston for two years.

The structure — which stands on a three-foot base — is mostly designed for children’s books and smaller young adult books. RA’s permission is required because the structure would be installed on an RA common area.

Neighbors and passersby can take and leave books in the collection. Reston already has several in cluster common areas like the Waterview, Whisperwood and Old Westbury clusters.

At a meeting on Dec. 15, RA’s Board of Directors voted to approve the project.

Due to concerns about the precedent that the approval could establish, the board moved to approve a covenant agreement that would require Bloudoff-Indelicato to take over responsibility for the maintenance and monitoring of the installation.

Attorney Anthony Champ cautioned that the approval could result in possible liabilities if inappropriate or offensive materials circulate in the library.

“You can only imagine how this community would come out if something inappropriate ended up in one of those,” Champ said.

Board member Laurie Dodd also noted that the standard to judge content as inappropriate or offensive is often subjective. She specifically referred to concerns about the repeated use of the n-word in Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

“I’m not suggesting that there is a right or wrong answer,” Dodd said. She voted in favor of the project.

Molly said that parents would like be the “gatekeepers” of content and that the couple would take charge of ensuring appropriate content was available.

The proposal must now make its way through RA’s Design Review Board.

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Upgrades to the pool officially begin today (Photo via Reston Association/Twitter).

Upgrades to Glade Pool (11550 Glade Drive) officially begin today.

Planned improvements include partially replacing the concrete deck, repairing the spa jet and chipping out the main pool for tiling and coping.

In a statement, Reston Association Director of Communications and Marketing Mike Leone said that the work should wrap up by May 1 — just in time for the 2023 summer pool season.

“Nothing is changing physically at this pool. RA is doing repair work to the Glade Pool like the work done at Ridge Heights pool earlier this year,” Leone wrote.

Work will only be conduced on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Leone added that noise levels may be “moderate to loud” during the chip-out phase and will lower once the work is completed.

RA is currently working on a large-scale renovation of Lake Thoreau’s aquatics facility. A project for Shadowood Pool is in the design phase. Final conceptual and construction documents are being preparing by engineers, according to RA’s website.

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