News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Breaking: Loudoun County Literally Stinks

Yes, that was a real question on another filthy "web log" published in the friendly, particleboard-curious county to our west. And just in case your imagination isn't already running as rampant as an Ashburn resident with a Wegmans gift card in the prepared foods section, the aforementioned smell is "described as a sulfur-like odor, similar to rotting eggs.” Alls we can say is they can keep their fancypants three-sided brick townhomes and their X-rated parks, and we'll be happy to stick with a place where all you can smell is the sweeeeeet yet tangy aroma of new urbanism and fanciful concrete bollards, a scent reminiscent of hot cocoa and asphalt and chocolate chip cookies and rebar, the end.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

RA's Magic Treehouse: Just One of Three Million-Dollar Projects Whose Timing Couldn't Possibly Be Better

So it's been a while since the Reston Association has suggested major new capital projects, maybe because of their semi-recent track record. But we can say this: when they dream, they dream big!

Last month, the RA proposed building a nifty new barn to hold hoedowns events, a treehouse to teach kids about the tree canopy, and an inclusive playground for children with disabilities -- all of which is great. They wanted the Friends of Reston to help raise money, which they did for earlier projects at the Nature Center. Only each of the projects would cost more than $1 million, which didn't go over quite so great, what with the maintenance backlog and pressure to close pools and the whole global pandemic putting the economy on a highwire thing. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

However, the RA and FOR boards both expressed hesitation and even frustration at the appeal, citing a lack of membership feedback, COVID-related sensitivities, and an ongoing budget crunch.“For any kind of capital campaign, we’d have to see that 80% of the community wants this,” FOR President Carol Nahorniak said. “I’m concerned about the cost…Looking at that price tag, we always know it will cost more. There are certain things I’m just not comfortable with.”
RA Director Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza said she had heard only about the event barn prior to the meeting with FOR, calling it “embarrassing” that the board of directors wasn’t made aware of the other projects sooner.
RA interim CEO Larry Butler downplayed the pitch, saying all of this was simply “brainstorming” based on examples of potential major capital projects from staff.

All three projects would have to be approved by RA members through referenda, which has happened before, and it's not the first time we've seen some blue sky options thrown out to the public by the RA with little warning. But let's see what this most recent round of brainstorming came up with. First, our favorite Correspondent, the Peasant from Less Sought After South Reston, shared this image of what the treehouse might look like, asking "yew want it or not?" 

Ha ha. The funny thing is that the actual proposal doesn't look that different, with the possible exception of the hot tub:

Then there's the barn, which could be used for "weddings, concerts, and community events." To be planted somewhere between Brown's Chapel and the ballparks, the facility would look like a DRB-approved paint color violation something out of an Andrew Wyeth painting -- at roughly the same cost. 

Maybe if we had an old fashioned barn raisin', we could shave a bit off the $1.1 million price tag.

Then there's the inclusive playground, an ADA-compliant space modeled after Clemyjontri Park, which has ramps and other materials that allow children of all abilities to play. The pity is this is the one that probably makes the most sense, as families of children with disabilities 'round these here parts have long trekked to (shudder) McLean to visit the park. But it too would cost more than $1 million, and given its inclusion on this list will probably be unfairly lumped in the same category as these other projects. Even the other two projects could conceivably make sense, especially if they were funded as necessary amenities by developer proffers as Reston continues to fill out, an idea which has resulted in tons of new playing fields, green space, sidewalks, and -- oh, wait, we forgot -- that's exactly what hasn't happened.

Maybe it's time to read the room—even if the room is 20 feet above ground in a treehouse, the end.

Friday, August 6, 2021

RA CEO Harry Lynch Resigns After 2 1/2 Years

The Reston Association announced today that CEO Harry P. Lynch has resigned after around 2 1/2 years leading the RA. Give us some good we-wish-Hank-well-in-his-future-endeavors blockquote, RA:

Reston Association CEO, Harry P. “Hank” Lynch, has resigned. The association’s Board of Directors was informed of the resignation this week. Lynch, who was hired in December 2018, said he has accepted another opportunity. Lynch’s last day with RA will be Sept. 3, 2021. 
“We all wish Hank well in his new endeavors,” said RA President, Caren Anton. “His leadership has been invaluable during his entire stay in Reston and especially during the trying times caused by the pandemic. Hank has provided a steady hand and brought new and innovative ideas to the table. He will be missed."
During Lynch’s tenure, the association significantly upgraded its IT security systems, remained fiscally sound and improved its customer service across the board. New measures were put in place to improve lake management and Covenants operations.
Lynch's hiring in late 2018 followed a nine-month vacancy following the resignation of former RA CEO Cate Fulkerson, who had served in the role since 2013. The RA Board will meet next week to plan for hiring his successor.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Reston Going to the Birds: E-Scooters Join Bikeshares As Most Likely Objects To Be Found During Future Lake Dredging

First, the red Capital Bikeshare stations descended upon our neighborhoods, glowing monoliths and solar panels and puny, pathetic bollards and all. Now, within a week of the county approving its "shared mobility device program," we've seen the first rentable scooters that weren't totally lost pop up in Reston -- in Reston Town Center, no less!

The first county franchisee, Bird, is beginning to distribute up to 300 scooters countywide (a second company, LINK, will start distributing scooters sometime this fall). 

At least 15 of Bird's battery-powered doohickeys have been set up in RTC, making this the second most embarrassing moment involving birds and our plastic fantastic fake downtown. Check out this helpful cellular telephone map:

With its mix of paths, transit, and pedestrian-friendly design, Reston's actually a decent place for these scooters, and we can't wait to effortlessly scoot from the Apple Store to the former site of the Macaroni Grill to pay our #respects some day in the not-so-distant future. (But we won't be going to Herndon -- that purple area on the map suggests that scooters remain verboten for our neighbors to the west.) But with the way they block sidewalks when they're not in use and encourage speedy zipping around pedestrians when they are, they're.... not exactly popular with everyone, as this fancy "supercut," as the kids haven't said in years, suggests.

Scooters and plentiful bodies of water? What could possibly go wrong, the end.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Invasion of the Parking Snatchers: Bikeshare Stations Descend on Unsuspecting Reston Neighborhoods, Causing Panic, Mild Chafing on Humid Days (Updated)

 Check out this weird piece of debris that recently fell onto Ring Road, presumably from outer space (monolith and all). Ha ha, we kid! It’s actually part of the long-anticipated second phase of Capital Bikeshare, a secret quasi-governmental project to discretely plant bright red monoliths in our neighborhoods to wean all of us from our Ford Foci and mandate cycling to all points near and far in the name of GLORIOUS SOCIALISM, which as we all know is symbolized by the only thing more fear-inducing than the dreaded hammer and sickle (a bicycle). Plus each one appears to be powered by/report back to its socialist overlords using a SOLAR PANEL, which is just the craziest thing since someone decided to bury a school in the ground to save a few bucks on the electric bill.

We digress. The recent flurry of activity is more than doubling the number of socialist cycling cells in our plastic fantastic planned community. When all’s said and done, there will be 35 operating stations — but oddly, only three in more sought after North Reston. Capitalism wins (for now!)

Now, we’re all for bikes and socialisms and whatnot, but we’re wondering about the location of some of these new stations. Given the Ring Road station’s location in the MIDDLE OF RING ROAD, we’re thinking it’s going to need bigger (and more fanciful) bollards than those scrawny white things to keep the bikes from being clipped by happy motorists on the regular. Then there’s the one that descended on Fairway Drive:

Wow, where are people going to park now? Its appearance apparently also attracted a uniformed agent, pictured here probing (or being probed by) the strange alien device.

Then there’s this one subtly blending into the shadows on Inlet Court — which is at least a cul-de-sac. The odd thing is there’s a bus stop about 150 yards away, which would be a logical, and maybe even helpful, spot for a bikeshare station — but it’s completely invisible from it. That's okay -- maybe the trees will become sentient and learn how to ride.

Needless to say, the folks on Next Door Neighbor Dot Com haven't been this bent out of shape since someone shot off some fireworks in their backyard, talking about the bikes attracting excess traffic and -- you guessed it -- the wrong elements to their otherwise bucolic neighborhoods, but mostly about the loss of surface parking. Hey, when you're making a socialism omelette, sometimes you have to break a few gas-powered eggs! 

No word on when the mandatory spandex distribution will begin, but we’ll be first in line, the end.

Update: A Confidential Restonian Operative sent us a cellular telephone photo of the objects being delivered to one Reston neighborhood.


Friday, July 2, 2021

Earth-Toned Hit Parade: Another Reston Art Hits the Global Top 100

 ZOMG, someone go light another candle atop Kasey Kasem's unmarked grave in Norway, because for the second year running, An Art from our plastic fantastic earth toned community has hit the TOP 100 BABY. And not just any An Art, but An Art that "fulfilled a voluntary public art proffer" by a developer, which makes it so much more special than, you know, some An Art painted on gross public infrastructure or whatever.

Simon is the name of our special An Art, and just like our beloved founder, it's constructed out of Cor-ten steel, full of holes, and approximately 15 feet tall. Let's hear more about this An Art:

DeWitt Godfrey is known for his large-scale, abstract steel sculptures. His signature stacked and tubular forms are inspired by nature. Reminiscent of plant spores, seashells and honeycombs, his diverse body of work spans three decades and features site-specific sculptures that interact with their setting. Indeed, Simon was conceived in relationship to its built environment. Its vertical orientation is accentuated by the surrounding townhouses whose brick facades interact with the warm coloring of the Cor-ten steel, a surface that weathers and continues to change over time. 

INDEED. The "built environment" around it (the Valley & Park townhouse development) is nicer than some of the stuff going up in Reston these days, though the old change-of-materials-trick of using different colored bricks isn't exactly fooling anyone. Apparently the sculpture "announces the arrival of owners and their guests," so that's good, and more artistic than a doorbell, we guess.

As with last year, we, the unwashed philistine public, can vote for the world's best An Art, which we recommend you do early and often. Although, scrolling through the other 99 entries, we see one piece of serious competition:

Breathtaking. Those are the fanciest fanciful bollards we've ever seen, the end. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Like Brave New World, Only With More Earth Tones: Reston: The Baby Book to Be Distributed to All Newborns

Good news for lovers of literacy and dated design regulations: There's a new book called Reston Baby, which is about... a baby in Reston. What, you were expecting a spy novel filled with sultry double agents and Turkish assassins? It's the brainchild of former Sunrise Valley Elementary School principal Elizabeth English and illustrator Molly Bergin, was sponsored by a whole slew of Reston organizations, and it's full of bilingual descriptions of living, working, and playing in our plastic fantastic earth-toned community.

Check it, as the kids no longer say, in this video (assuming you can hear the narration over the drone of the rapidly departing cicadas.)

Like the dearly departed Reston: The Magazine before it, Reston Baby will be be part of a mandatory distribution scheme carried out by uniformed personnel—not van-driving federal agents in this case, but the staff at Reston Hospital Center who will hand copies to the parents of every baby born there, all in the spirit of indoctrination into the planned community ethos early literacy! No truth to the rumor that parents (and babies) will have to correctly recite the "live, work, play" mantra before being discharged, however. 

And there's more good news: If "committing to have a child to get one is too far a stretch” to obtain a copy of the book, as former RA President Andy Sigle says in the video, you can order a copy from the Reston Museum. Or if you haven't found the time to learn to read, you can listen to a reading of Reston: The Baby Book in this video (skip to about 5 minutes), perhaps while lounging on your Reston: The Sofa, the end.