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

Reston Association is seeking more time to work through the county’s appeals process on its proposed upgrades to the Barton Hill tennis courts.

At a board meeting last night (Thursday), RA’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to request more time to gather information and for the appeals process. The board met in closed session and approved the motion with no public discussion.

The board directed the the association to also look into “negotiating a resolution on the issue with the Hunter Mill District Supervisor,” according to the approved motion.

Staff may need at least one month to gather more information before the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals takes the issue up at a meeting on Sept. 28.

The proposal has been hung up due to a disagreement over what is required to move the project forward. In addition to approval of a site plan, the county contends that, in addition to a site plan approval, RA needs to get an amendment to the existing Planned Residential Community (PRC) Plan approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors before installing lights at the tennis court facility.

RA has maintained that these additional steps are not necessary and would burden the association with unnecessary additional costs and further extend the timeline of the project.

The association hopes to upgrade lighting at the facility — including 23 LED light poles. The renovation of four courts, striping for tennis and pickle ball and upgrades to the lights is planned.

RA had hoped to wrap up the project by the end of the year, but it’s unclear how the appeals process will affect the timeline.

The county was not immediately available for comment.

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The Lake Anne Plaza fountain is temporarily closed due to repairs (via Reston Association)

Frequenters of Lake Anne in Reston will notice a change in the waters of the lake. 

The lake’s fountain is currently not in operation after a mechanical issue was discovered, according to Reston Association.

Mike Leone, RA’s spokesperson, said that the fountain’s pump and motor burnt out. 

“Replacement parts have been ordered and right now we are being told it will be three to four weeks, if not longer, to receive the replacements parts,” Leone wrote in a statement to FFXnow. 

The timeline could change depending on supply chain and delivery demands, Leone added. 

The fountain was inspired by Jet d’Eau, a 140-meter single geyser fountain on Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

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VDOT has redesigned a circuitous Village Road pedestrian median in Reston (photo by Colin Mills/Reston Accessibility Committee)

(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) Community pressure about a circuitous and convoluted pedestrian refuge at Village Road in Reston has prompted a redesign.

Reston Association voiced its concerns about the “horrible initial design” of the refuge island in a letter to state and local transportation officials, according to RA spokesperson Mike Leone. The letter, along with community pressure, led to the rebuild and redesign effort.

VDOT has added a new access point and sidewalk.

“It is RA’s position that the changes/redesign are much better than the original design,” Leone wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

Construction crews are “almost finished with reconstruction, but it’s not yet turned over to us for inspection and acceptance,” VDOT spokesperson Ellen Kamilakis told FFXnow.

After FFXnow’s sister site, Reston Now, reported on the issues with the refuge in January, the Reston Accessibility Committee — a working group created by the Reston Citizens Association — submitted an assessment of the site to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in February.

“In addition to the poor sidewalk design, our assessment cited the narrow ramps, the misalignment of the crosswalk buttons, and the fact that the Village Road crosswalk was behind the stop line for the traffic signal,” the committee said in its summer newsletter, released on Saturday (July 30).

RA’s Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee, a citizen advisory committee that reports to RA, also flagged concerns about the refuge.

“Pedestrian navigability and safety were our chief concerns especially with the near proximity of the new Lake Anne House,” the committee said. “The Board agreed and sent a letter to  VDOT strongly urging redesign.”

While the redesign is a significant improvement over the previous iteration, MTAC’s chair Mike McDermott said that some issues still remain.

“While we are glad that corrections have been made, we do feel that pedestrian facilities should be present on all four legs of this signalized intersection,” McDermott wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

The previous design was so flawed that some pedestrians cut through the middle or skipped over the refuge entirely. Other concerns included narrow ramps and misalignment of crosswalk buttons.

The new design completes the sidewalk by turning into a loop and realigns the crosswalk  buttons. The vehicle stop line for the Village Road signal was also moved back behind the crosswalk.

“RAC supports the attempt to remediate the design and make the design safer and more accessible for everyone,” the Reston Accessibility Committee said in its newsletter. “There is still room for improvement, however, and we encourage all parties to continue exploring design changes to make it even better.”

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Morning Notes

I-66 construction in the Oakton area (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Two Face Drug Charges After Seven Corners Police Shooting — “Two men have been charged after an officer-involved shooting that occurred last night at approximately 10:45 p.m. in the 6100 block of Arlington Boulevard in Seven Corners…The officer involved in the shooting has been identified as an 11-year veteran assigned to the Street Crimes Unit.” [FCPD]

Local LGBTQ+ Student Group Speaks Out — Fairfax County’s Pride Liberation Project released a statement backed by more than 600 students criticizing a proposal from the state Department of Education that they fear will classify any references to LGBTQIA+ people and events as sexually explicit. The guidelines address a new law that requires parents to be notified when school materials include sexually explicit content. [The Washington Post]

Meet Reston Association’s New CEO — “On Thursday, July 28, the Reston Association board of directors voted unanimously to confirm Mac Cummins, AICP* as the next chief executive officer of the non-profit organization…Cummins sat for a Q&A with the Connection Newspapers on Friday, July 29.” [Connection Newspapers]

Police Chief Addresses Staffing Emergency — The Fairfax County Police Department declared a personnel emergency last week, requiring officers to work mandatory overtime to compensate for staff shortages. Chief Kevin Davis says the department’s 189 operational vacancies are exceptionally high, though 51 recruits currently in the academy will eventually join the force. [ABC7]

Back in Nature, Snake Found in Fairfax Is Healing — “K2C Wildlife Encounters, LLC, received a call on June 5 from a Fairfax resident who had a snake in their backyard that they wanted removed…The female, eastern ratsnake had a torn jugular vein, a hole in her trachea, a protruding eye, numerous lacerations, and broken ribs.” [Patch]

New FCPS Teachers Prepare for School Year — “Minutello and Edinborough are among the newest teachers in Virginia’s largest school system, and are starting at a time when staffing challenges are making headlines. The county had hundreds of vacancies at the end of the last school year, but 97% of staffing positions have been filled as of last week, Superintendent Michelle Reid said.” [WTOP]

Centreville’s Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Lot to Temporarily Close — “The parking lot and entrance for Cabell’s Mill will be closed from Aug. 8 through Oct. 7, 2022, for construction. Work related to the new Stewardship Education Center will include a larger parking lot that will include features and a design that will better control and filter water from rain and runoff from the adjacent neighborhood.” [FCPA]

State Sales Tax Holiday Starts Tomorrow — “The 3-day sales tax holiday starts the first Friday in August at 12:01 am and ends the following Sunday at 11:59 pm…During the sales tax holiday, you can buy qualifying school supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness items, and Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products without paying sales tax.” [Virginia Department of Taxation]

It’s Thursday — Humid throughout the day. High of 95 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:14 am and sunset at 8:18 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Roughly 50 students are learning how to swim through the partnership (courtesy Suzanne White)

Learning to swim over the summer is a skill that is coming into shape for 50 rising Terraset Elementary School students. 

The Summer School & Pool program is the product of a partnership between the school and Reston Association. It uses funds from Friends of Reston, an organization that performs educational and charitable projects in concert with RA.

Students in the program walk to Ridge Heights pool together on Tuesday and Thursdays to navigate new waters. For most of the students, swimming is a new activity.

Students are placed into groups and rotate between stations throughout each session through a variety of lessons, practice and free swimming. 

They’re under the guidance of Terraset ES math resource teacher Suzanne White, who told FFXnow that she saw a need in the community that inspired her to push for the partnership.

I found a generous group in Friends of Reston who took a chance on it with funding. To say it’s been the highlight of these kids’ summer is not an exaggeration,” White said.

Volunteers from the community are also on site to help with the classes.

Staff for Reston Association were not immediately available for comment.

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Mac Cummins is a city planner and starts his position at the end of August (via Reston Association)

After a nearly year-long search, Reston Association officially has a new CEO.

Mac Cummins, who was director of community development in the City of Bellevue, Washington, was unanimously named CEO by RA’s Board of Directors last night (Thursday).

Cummins has worked for more than 20 years in municipal government. His most recent position was managing a $79 million budget and managing economic development, planning, affordable housing, and other initiatives in Bellevue.

“His extensive expertise in planning and community development will provide the association with the innovative thinking and collaborative leadership needed to move us forward in our efforts to actively advocate for issues most important to our members, including recreational and sports activities, environmental sustainability, and land use,” Board President Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza said when introducing Cummins at the meeting.

Cummins was also a planning manager in Westminster, Colorado, and a planner in Scottsdale, Arizona. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California in public administration, city, community and regional planning. His bachelor’s degree was in public policy and management.

During the meeting, Cummins said he studied Reston for years as part of urban planning coursework.

“I have observed the vision of Robert Simon being realized with such amazing amenities and smart planning around open space, recreation facilities, trails and housing,” Cummins said. “This commitment to quality of life and community is a primary factor in my family’s excitement to be a part of the Reston community. I am thankful for the opportunity to lead this dynamic, community-oriented organization.”

His first day will be on Aug. 22.

Cummins takes a position vacated by former CEO Hank Lynch, who announced his resignation last August.

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Reston Association’s Lake Newport swimming pool (via Reston Association)

COVID-19 is having a ripple effect on Reston Association’s pools.

Two of the organization’s pools are closed until Wednesday (July 27) after too many lifeguards caught COVID-19.

The Ridge Heights and Upland community pools are closed after an undisclosed number of aquatics staff tested positive, according to RA spokesperson Mike Leone.

RA follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for exposure to COVID-19 and reentry following a positive test.

Leone told FFXnow that the two pools were selected because several pools are available in the same area.

“With the hot weather this weekend, we want our pool patrons to have access to as many pool options as possible,” he told FFXnow, noting that 11 pools are still open for use across all of RA’s four districts.

Aside from the pandemic, RA appears to have steered clear of the national lifeguard shortage. According to the American Lifeguard Association, the shortage is affecting about a third of public pools across the country, and the impact could dip into next year.

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Renovations are expected to begin over the next few weeks (via Reston Association)

County and local officials have given Reston Association the green light to begin construction on the new Lake Thoreau pool, the organization says.

The work will begin in the next few weeks, moving forward after it took seven months for officials to approve permits for the renovation.

RA is working with Hubert Construction to complete the one-year project. A new bathhouse, pool structure, retaining walls, sidewalks, fencing, parking lot and deck will be constructed.

RA originally hoped a groundbreaking would take place in the winter of 2021 and permits would be available in late February or early March. But the timeline was pushed back due to “extended contract and negotiations that overlapped with the holiday season,” according to RA. The association is still aiming for a 2023 opening.

Construction will take place on weekdays only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The parking lot will be closed and a detour area will be established.

Here’s more from RA on the breakdown of the project timeline:

Following site security, heavy machinery will be brought in to perform selective demolition and site grading. This phase is anticipated to take two to three months. Following selective demolition, installation of structural elements including retaining wall foundations, concrete piers and stormwater pipes will occur. This phase is anticipated to take three to four months. Following the structural elements phase, installation of the new pool basins and deck, parking lot, retaining walls, sidewalks, fencing, and bathhouse addition will commence.

This phase is anticipated to take five to six months and will conclude major construction and mark substantial completion of the project. Final clean up, inspections close out and punch list fulfillment by Hubert will occur before RA takes control of the facility. At that point RA will complete installations related to public art and maintenance equipment.  A preconstruction notification mailer will be sent to all nearby property owners two weeks in advance of mobilization.

RA intends to post periodic updates on its website.

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The sun is out on Lake Audubon in Reston (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Lake Audubon Terrace residents are protesting Reston Association’s decision to order the removal of their boats on the organization’s shoreline — a practice residents say they had been doing for years without issue.

In a petition discussed before RA’s Board of Directors in late June, the Lake Audubon Terrace Cluster asked permission to access the shoreline. They say the order has increased overcrowding, undermined their ability to offer mooring spots to owners near their homes, and “directly diminished” property values of owners who can’t access the shoreline.

“We believe that RA’s consideration of our request should rest primarily on what is fair and right by its directly impacted constituents, not how the outcome is perceived by others,” said the Feb. 6 letter submitted to the board by Cris Revaz, the cluster’s vice president.

The petition has the signatures of nearly all lakefront and Lakeview owners.

The discussion follows a failed motion to allow the cluster to continue using the shoreline for boat mooring in October 2021. RA staff and board directors said then that allowing residents to maintain access to the shoreline would set a precedent for other residents’ to seek similar relief.

In recent years, RA began a concerted attempt to implement and streamline its boat and docking procedures, many of which previously were not enforced. The association sought to refine its policies to address enforcement and oversight issues involving lake use and access.

So far, there has been no resolution on the issue, according to RA’s spokesperson Mike Leone.

“It is my understanding that the Board plans to discuss this in Executive Session during their July 28 Board of Directors meeting,” Leone wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

As a part of the negotiation, residents say they are prepared to beautify part of the slope leading to the shore, rehabilitate mooring spots and eroded docking points, install a fish habitat, and preserve landscaping and vegetation along the shoreline.

“We believe our request for reconsideration is very fair and reasonable, would have a positive impact on the environmental health of the shore and the lake, holds no adverse precedent for RA, and reflects a position outcome that avoids further contention between our cluster and he RA board,” the petition states.

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A major Hydrilla bloom prompted water restrictions in 2020

Reston Association is urging residents to avoid using water from Lake Thoreau for irrigation until mid-October.

The guidance comes after Aquatic Environment Consultants treated Hydrilla, an invasive aquatic species, on the water. Conducted monthly and typically around the middle of the month, treatments will continue throughout the summer to maintain low levels of herbicide in the water.

The company was contracted to treat Hydrilla when it became a “nuisance” two years ago, according to Ben Rhoades, RA’s watershed manager.

“There are no use restriction associated with the herbicide, Fluridone, other than irrigation,” Rhoades wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

In 2020, RA encouraged residents to avoid contact with the lake after a major algae bloom took over the surface of the lake. The incident piqued conversations about RA’s maintenance of its lakes and the most appropriate timing of lake treatment to avoid similar issues in the future.

The bloom was later ruled non-toxic.

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