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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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Rendering shows an expansion and a renovation for the Mount Vernon RECenter (via Fairfax County)

The Mount Vernon RECenter is closing at the end of the month for a two-year, $74 million renovation project.

The nearly four-decade-old recreation center right off Belle View Blvd is set to close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 to allow for a massive expansion and renovation.

The plan is to add about 75,000 square feet to the rec center, which is set to include a two-story fitness center, building upgrades, an indoor track, a remodeled pool, and a second “NHL-sized” ice rink. The project is expected to take two years, with a reopening scheduled for the early part of 2025.

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s board officially approved the upgrades to its “oldest and most popular” facility back in March.

The recreation center, which opened in 1974, has had a myriad of problems in recent years, requiring workarounds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in short-term fixes. That includes renting ice chillers and dehumidification systems as well as fixing a failing roof.

While closing the entire facility for two years was a “tough” decision, it was the best option of several the county considered, FCPA director Jai Cole said in a press release:

The decision to close the entire facility for two years was a tough one; but it is the best option when it comes to delivering the most desirable outcome and limiting the impact of the closure on our customers. We have worked very hard to create a schedule that has enabled the facility to remain open for as long as possible prior to construction and to condense the closure period as much. While we understand that the temporary closing is challenging, we very much look forward to delivering a top-notch, state-of-the-art facility that will serve this community well into the future.

The total project is set to cost just over $74.4 million, an 83% increase over the proposed 2021 budget. Last year, county officials set the budget at $40.7 million, but it became clear that number was unrealistic.

According to a May 2022 presentation, bids came in much higher due to supply chain delays, building infrastructure challenges, and “complex construction phasing with market uncertainty.”

Even in the six months since then, the budget has risen again by another $7 million.

“The total project budget is $74,431,381 — an increase of $33.73 million over the original 2021 budget,” FCPA spokesperson Ben Boxer wrote FFXnow in an email. “The cost increase has been driven by ongoing supply chain challenges and inflation. The cost increase is consistent with construction cost increases across the board on all projects.”

The 24-month closing of the facility is also expected to cost the county $1.3 million in revenue.

The additional money needed for the project will come from a reallocation of other bond funds that had been marked for other projects as well as $25 million from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was provided to the county, per Boxer.

Residents who have countywide rec center memberships will be able to use it to access the county’s eight other eight centers. The George Washington Rec Center near Mount Vernon High School will expand its hours on Jan. 2, 2023 to accommodate the closure of the Mount Vernon center.

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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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A rendering of Diventures’ planned swim and scuba center (courtesy Diventures)

A Vienna dive shop has been subsumed into Diventures, a swimming and scuba franchise from Nebraska that hopes to build a new aquatics facility to serve the D.C. area.

The company announced yesterday (Wednesday) that it has expanded into Virginia with the acquisition of the local scuba shop Nautilus Aquatics, which has two locations in Vienna (510 Mill Street NE) and Sterling (1007A Ruitan Circle).

“We are excited to expand into Virginia and bring the Diventures experience to the northern Virginia and metro Washington, D.C. area, as well as bringing their unique experiences to our other 15 locations across the U.S.,” Diventures founder and owner Dean Hollis said in the press release.

In addition to operating the two stores, Diventures says it is actively looking for land in Northern Virginia and the D.C. area to build a 8,000-square-foot swim and scuba center.

The facility would have an indoor, heated pool with a depth of up to 12 feet, a retail store, classrooms, a “diamond-level” scuba service center, a swim program, and a concierge travel center where patrons can book U.S. and international diving trips, according to the press release.

Diventures Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Rebecca Van Gundy confirmed that an exact location for the center hasn’t been identified.

“We have not purchased land yet and are currently looking for that,” she told FFXnow, noting that the site would need to be at least 1.6 acres in size.

Nautilus sells scuba gear and offers dive certifications, summer camps and other diving-related services. The company formed in 2015 out of a merger between Sterling Silver Scuba and Adventures Scuba Company, which started in Chantilly in 1978 before relocating to Vienna.

Nautilus founders Jason Davis and Melissa Miles purchased the Sterling shop in 2008 and Adventures Scuba in Vienna in 2015. In 2016, they bought the assets to The Dive Shop in Merrifield, which was the oldest dive shop in the D.C. area when it closed in 2015.

Diventures leaders said acquiring Nautilus will help the company expand its family programming while introducing a “safety-focused swim program, travel calendar and state-of-the-art aquatics training facilities to Northern Virginia.”

“Melissa and I are excited for the future and the opportunity to continue to support the scuba community through innovation, education and, as always, a customer-first focus,” Davis said. “We cannot thank our customers and team of top-notch dive professionals enough for bringing Nautilus Aquatics to where it is today.”

The acquisition is official, but Diventures will initially co-brand with Nautilus “to maintain that ‘local dive shop’ feel and familiarity with customers,” Van Gundy said by email.

In the long term, the company plans to retain the “Nautilus” name for a scuba club that will be offered at the stores.

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The Lake Thoreau pool in Reston has been reduced to a dirt ditch at the corner of Sunrise Valley and Upper Lake drives, paving the way for a full renovation of the facility.

On-site work at 2040 Upper Lake Drive began over the summer. The pool has now been completely demolished, including the pool shell and concrete deck, according to the latest update from Reston Association.

“The spa is completely gone from here, and the wading pool is gone from up top. All that material has been brought off site, and now, we’re on the recreating process,” RA Capital Projects Manager Austin Mayhugh said in the video posted last Friday (Sept. 30).

Now, the crew from contractor Hubert Construction is preparing to install caissons to serve as the foundation for the pool’s new wooden deck, which will overlook Lake Thoreau, Mayhugh said.

Other construction activities on the horizon include laying a new stormwater pipe that will go under the parking lot, followed by pouring for new retaining walls around the site.

Going forward, the contractors will generally be working from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to Mayhugh. RA still estimates that construction will take about a year, projecting a potential opening in summer 2023.

“In the next coming months, we anticipate machinery still coming through the site, which will make noise,” Mayhugh said. “We appreciate your patience, and we can’t wait to see this wonderful new facility open up this summer.”

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

The new facility will have a pool with six lap lanes and 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.

According to RA, the overall project carries an estimated cost of $3.5 million, which hasn’t changed despite inflation and supply challenges affecting the construction industry in recent months.

“It is possible that at some future date that could change due to inflation or other factors, but at the present time, that is not the case,” RA spokesperson Mike Leone told FFXnow.

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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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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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Morning Notes

A Ben and Jerry’s truck hands out ice cream in a Vienna neighborhood (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Criminal Case for Bijan Ghaisar Shooting Ends — The Justice Department won’t reopen a federal investigation into two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot McLean resident Bijan Ghaisar in 2017. Ghaisar’s family called the decision “a betrayal,” but it will allow their civil lawsuit that has been pending since October 2020 to move forward. [WTOP, The Washington Post]

Police Look for Man Reported Missing — “53YO Juan Ward last seen at 12:47pm on May 25 in 12500 blk of Dillingham Sq. in Woodbridge. 5’11”, 185lbs, black/grey hair, brown eyes, wearing a long-sleeve grey sweatshirt. Missing under unusual circumstances. Call 703-691-2131 w/info.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Two Rescued from Vehicle Crash on I-95 — “Approximately 3 a.m. [Saturday], units were on scene of a one vehicle crash, I-95 NB prior to Telegraph Rd. Rescue Squads 426 and 411 extricated two patients who were heavily entrapped in a pick up truck. Fire Department, City of Alexandria, VA assisted. Transported w/ non-life-threatening injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Seven Displaced by Annandale House Fire — “At 3:09 a.m., units dispatched for a house fire in the 3900 block of Terrance Drive, Annadale. Units arrived with fire showing. Multiple occupants were removed or assisted from the home by #FCFRD. No reported injuries. 7 displaced.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

FCPD Continues Oakton Crash Site Investigation — “On Thursday morning, Fairfax County Police returned to the scene of a deadly crash involving seven Oakton High students. They said they came back to do more investigating to make sure they give the commonwealth’s attorney the evidence he needs to decide on charges.” [ABC7]

Armed Robbery Reported in Tysons — “1700 block of Tysons Central Street, 6/8/22, 2:44 a.m. Four men approached the victim when he exited his taxi. Two men displayed firearms, took property, and fled the area in a vehicle.” [FCPD]

Annandale School Starts Principal Search — “Annandale Terrace parents will soon have an opportunity to participate in the selection process for a new principal. The current principal, Lisa Pilson, will start a new job July 1 as director of early childhood curriculum and grants management with Fairfax County Public Schools.” [Annandale Today]

Lifeguard Shortage Not an Issue in Reston — As of Wednesday (June 8), Reston Assocation has managed to hire 186 lifeguards for its swimming pools, a number it didn’t meet last year until September. While many pools across the country have struggled to find staff, RA says it retained 71% of lifeguards from last year and will continue hiring through the season to prepare for next year. [Patch]

It’s Monday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Lake Newport Pool (via Reston Association/YouTube)

Over Memorial Day weekend, five of Reston Association’s pools remained closed due to a lack of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), medical devices used in emergencies when someone’s heart stops.

As the second pool season kicked off on Saturday (May 28), Reston Association says the AED shortage is nearly resolved. On Tuesday, RA received four of the five AEDs staff needed.

“We are in good shape as of today,” said Mike Leone, Reston Association spokesperson, in a statement.

Over the last 15 years, RA has had AEDs in operation at its pools. An AED was used when a man was rescued at North Shore Pool in late May.

“Having an AED on site is industry standards and situations arise like the North Shore Pool incident when they save lives,” Leone said.

Over Memorial Day weekend, the pools at Autumnwood, Ridge Heights, Hunters Woods, Golf Course Island and Tall Oaks were closed.

The complete schedule for pool hours is available online. Currently, the pools at Dogwood, Lake Newport, Glade, North Shore, and Ridge Heights will be open through June 10 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and for varying hours on weekdays.

Dogwood Pool is closed on weekdays. Season three begins on June 11 and runs through August 7. The schedule for seasons four through six has not yet been finalized.

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