News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, November 17, 2023

Fall in Full Bloom on Reston's Lakes

 Some troubling news this morning from our BFFs at the Reston Royal Navy RA:

That's right... the green ooze is spreading from whence it started in South Reston. It's only a matter of time before Lake Newport is also covered with green, possibly glowing and sentient, goo.

Now of course, the RA and the lamestream media would like you to believe these "algae blooms," like "swamp gas," are a naturally occuring phenomena, exacerbated by the unseasonably warm weather. That they will "run their course," and alls we need to do is keep ourselves and our pets out of the water. But we've seen what could happen!

Don't say we didn't warn you, the end.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

All Bets Are Off: Farfetched Reston Casino Proposal Rears Its Ugly Head Once More, With Rumors Of Well-Heeled Support (Updated)

We're getting deja vu from another trivial land use case involving Reston, some supposedly underutilized property ripe for redevelopment, and throwing money into a pile and setting it on fire: When the idea of building a fun 97-story floating casino in our plastic fantastic planned community was first floated late in the General Assembly session earlier this year only to be unceremoniously killed, we rolled our eyes, hit "post," and went back to not "web logging" for, you know, six months or so. But, like that other bad idea that simply will not die, the casino is back, baby!

Ante up with some sweeet blockquote, BFFs at Patch:

Comstock Companies wants to build a casino at or near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, several local officials told Patch.

The possibility of a casino being built along Metro's Silver Line in Fairfax County first came to light during the final days before the end of the first half of the 2023 Virginia General Assembly session, when similar bills were introduced by Sen. David Marsden (D-Burke) and Del. Wren Williams (R-Stuart). 

Although Marsden and Williams' bills were both withdrawn, they did not disappear. Marsden told Patch on Thursday that he would likely reintroduce the bill if he's re-elected to the Virginia Senate in November.

What's changed? Apparently, the fact that no one wants to go to work strapping bombs to dolphins for federal contractors in soulless office buildings where people microwave leftover fish in the breakroom and Ted from accounting drops by your cubicle uninvited to ask you if you saw "the big game" while you're desperately trying to finish the TPS report so you can finally leave the office before 8pm for the first time this week hybrid work appears here to stay means that Comstock and others have a reason to explore alternate uses for all those wacky parallelograms they've been building that might otherwise sit vacant. Here's Marsden's nice-office-park-you-have-it-would-be-a-shame-if-a-pandemic-makes-it-marginally-less-valuable pitch to county officials:

"We've started down the road of a severe downturn in the commercial real estate business. People who needed 50,000 square feet of office space now need 5. It's going to devalue the market and there's going to be less taxes because there'll be a lot more in the way of vacancies."

Hey, even Restonian World Headquarters has more than 5 square feet of office space! But we digress. Any proposal would have to go to a referendum, and our local county supervisor, Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn, remains opposed to the whole idea, saying:

"They have not talked with me about it. I oppose putting a casino on the Silver Line and Comstock should be aware of my position on that, it has not changed since I first became aware of casino interest in the Dulles corridor late last year. The land around these stations is already valuable for so many other socially beneficial uses, and plopping a casino into these emerging transit oriented development communities during their formative years is a bad idea.”  

Of course, he'll soon be running for re-election, and given that Comstock was willing to ante up (get it?) $255 per vote in a failed attempt to buy the board seat during the last election, Alcorn may wind up with a horse's head in his bed, electorally speaking. And now, the company is holding a fundraiser for out-of-area state lawmakers at Reston Station, for what we're sure are coincidental reasons:

Perhaps to bolster its efforts to build a casino at or near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, Comstock scheduled fundraisers for two Democratic Party candidates who may be leading the Virginia General Assembly during the 2024 Session.

On Sept 19, Dwight Schar, a former owner of the Washington Commanders and founder of NVR, Inc., and his son-in-law Chris Clemente, who happens to be the CEO of Comstock, hosted a fundraiser for Virginia House Minority Leader Don Scott (D-Portsmouth). If the Democrats regain control of the House of Delegates in November, Scott would likely become the speaker of the house.

Schar and Clemente are also planning to host fundraiser on Oct. 16 for state Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Burke) and Virginia Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Alexandria) at 1901 Reston Metro Plaza, which is also at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.

Your friendly neighborhood "web logger" reminds you that local elections matter, and they matter a lot to companies with stakes.

But again, we digress. Even with the highly specific language in the proposed legislation that would authorize a casino in basically only Reston and a handful of other spots in Fairfax County, there is a Silver Lin(ing)! You see, the county's so-called "Emerald City" already has a vacant hotel in the recently departed Tysons Sheraton, which is conveniently surrounded by a Wal-Mart and a (shrinking) sea of car dealership parking lots. Considering that Virginia's existing casinos are in Bristol, Portsmouth, and Danville, that location seems... let's just say a lot more familiar for casino patrons. Also, for those of us who were raised on bad 80s television, that means we could call our neighbor to the east Ty$ons, the end.

Update: There's now a petition opposing the casino, complete with rad stock imagery:

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Different Way to Entice Metro Riders (Updated)

So Metro is boosting the number of trains and reducing wait times in an attempt to avoid a catastrophic fiscal cliff when federal COVID funding ends to better serve transit patrons. That's great! But as one eagle-eyed patron noted on this map of Reston along the Toll Road, there's more than one way to er, "attract" ridership:

Of course, when we think "WMATA Spicy Fun House," as filthy "web loggers," this is what pops into our feverish minds:

Forgive us if we get a bit emotional.

Update: Confidential Restonian Operative "J. Bill" pointed out that the Spicy Fun House could be yours... if the Price is Right!

For a cool $1.1 million, that dumpster better convey. The midscale sedan, too.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Getting to Know an Art: And Modest Suggestions for More

It is a truth universally acknowledged that here in Reston, we have more public art than you can shake a stick (of appropriate length, materials, and colors) at. It seems like every time a new building goes up, the developer sticks some fancy, if slightly undersized, Art in front of it (a nice gesture, but we'd like them to pay RA dues as well). If not by the developer, it is a creative installation by our Public Art Reston organization, which makes our community unique. So if you haven't walked around recently, there are a ton more Arts to see. And we'd like to suggest even more!

North Reston: The newest section of our plastic fantastic planned community has the least public art. There's a yellow "dinosaur-like sculpture" in Lake Newport Park, and some whimsical bike racks called "Duck Duck Goose" closer to the lake itself. Those are great, but that doesn’t have to be all! A pyramid of orange Home Depot paint buckets towering over Reston Parkway could serve as a symbolic (and functional!) gateway to the neighborhood. Need a bucket? Take a bucket! Have a bucket? Leave a (hopefully empty) one!

Lake Anne: The OG, as the kids haven't said in years, includes lots of concrete abutments with evocative names like "Pyramid," "Pulpit," and "Sun Boat." They're all vaguely reminiscent of things you'd see on 1970s album covers your weird older brother or cousin always wanted you to listen to. Let's liven things up a bit, and add some Art featuring soft materials and more colorful pastels—things you might, you know, find on 1980s CD covers.

RTC: In honor of some semi-recent unpleasantness with the community, we'd suggest a flaming dumpster full of smoldering parking tickets, but that would be Wrong. Childish, even!

South Reston: We've always enjoyed the rotating sculptures created by South Lakes students on the Lake Thoreau spillway, but apparently there's also a "configuration of rocks and trees" on the far side of Reston Parkway we must check out someday. Our favorite Art, "The Portal Seats of Memory," nicely honors the Marcel Breuer building that got torn down for some midscale townhouses and condos. Not saying nothing, but someone should be checking with the artist about his ability to chisel some golf clubs out of marble, the end.

 This post was originally published in the Reston Letter.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

OK Google, Ask Jeeves To Bing.Com About "BASE Jumping Off Tall Buildings in Reston" (Updated)

A Nextdoor Neighbor dot com post reported a police helicopter flying overhead amid "gunshots" yet another incident where someone has taken a flying leap off a tall building in our plastic fantastic planned community on Wednesday night -- only this time, it was the one whose corners don't meet at 90-degree angles. Give us some good blockquote, Nextdoor user "Noel:"

I was southbound on Wihele Avenue passing the Google building when something out the corner of my eye caught my attention. I looked over and a parachutist landed directly in the parking area in front of the Marymount University Reston Center. I yelled at my buddy to check it out and luckily my windows were down and sunroof open and he was able to witness the same perfect standup landing not 50 feet from the roadway that I did. I said “Holy S! Did you just see that? Where did he come from?” To my relief, he said he just witnessed the same thing I did. How could he have jumped out of a plane? Did he BASE jump off one of the cranes? 

"I hadn’t consumed any alcohol over dinner. I had a chef salad for Chrissake," "Noel" adds.

Regular visitors to this web log (haha, as if this blog is updated regularly) may remember a similar eyewitness account back in ought-twenty, when a Toll Road driver saw someone jumping from the then-new 420' (heh) mauvescraper in Reston Town Center.  (We have it on good authority that said eyewitness had not consumed any 420-themed product over dinner that evening, but we're not sure whether a chef salad was involved.)

Neither jump was captured on video so far as we know, but a similar jump off the Lumen building in Tysons drew attention and maybe an arrest.

So many questions! Apparently, the Google building is 330 feet tall, and BASE jumping requires a minimum drop of 300 feet. How do we know this? Someone Googled it, the end.

Update: Video of the jump has surfaced, albeit on Facebook (LOL). Looks like the jumper leapt off a crane, not the polygon:

That's one way to cross Wiehle!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Made in the Shade: Summer Fun in Reston

It is a truth universally acknowledged among planned community aficionados that Reston is great in the summer. Pools! Camps for the kids! Live music and whatnot in various plazas and third spaces!

Well, sure. You could do all those things, or you could get out of your shell, or your sunken living room, and enjoy summer like a true Restonian. Here are some ideas: 

Picnics. Grab some prepared foods from the fancypants Wegmans and head across the street to luxuriate in the shadow of a massive concrete parking garage, or head further afield if you want to get back to nature. Just watch out for invasive plants, bears, and potentially dangerous Reston mascots.

Fireworks. Far be it from us to condone illegal (and potentially digit-reducing) activities, but if you choose to do so, be safe... and bring your phone so you can check Nextdoor for the "URGENT: GUNSHOTS OMG I DEFINITELY HEARD GUNSHOTS THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND WHERE IS THE HELICOPTER" messages that will invariably pop up before the last ember fades. 

Pickleball. Everyone loves the distinctive pop the ball makes when it's hit. Just watch out for NPIMBYS—the no pickle ball in my back yarders. You can spot them with their angry looks, earplugs, and freakishly sized rackets.

Bike. Go find one of the bikeshare stations buried deep in Reston's more out-of-the-way cul-de-sacs, borrow a neighbor's (laundered) spandex, and hit the W&OD trail. Or, if you prefer more courteous and less reckless fellow travelers, head straight for the Beltway. 

Boat. Grab your kayak, canoe, or other floating conveyance and hit one of Reston's lakes! Just watch for the RA U-Boats patrolling the waterways to ensure every last floatie has an official decal. They're clever—they're often disguised as ducks and geese, but we all know birds aren't real.

Metro. Most of us have used it to head eastward, but it's summer! Instead of trucking in to some dreary cubicle in (shudder) Tysons or "Foggy Bottom," as if that's a real place, it's time to throw caution to the wind and head the other direction. That's right, take the Silver Line past the airport and into Darkest Loudoun County, where we hear tell the particleboard McMansions wave gently in the breeze like so many amber waves of substandardly constructed grain. As an added bonus, your very presence will spark a wide range of "URGENT: SUSPICIOUS PERSON" on the Nextdoor for "Brambleton," as if that's a real place. 

Golf. Might want to get in a game sooner rather than later, the end.

 This post was originally published in the Reston Letter.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Lake Anne: A Few Suggestions

Poor Lake Anne, Reston’s original town center. Over the years, there have been consultants, charettes, and other conversations about taking its brutalist concrete glory and making something... more. 

Of course, the real solution has always been the same – build more dense housing around the Plaza, as Bob Simon originally planned, to ensure that the businesses there get enough foot traffic to be economically viable, and maybe deal with some... internal issues that haven’t changed a whole lot over the decades. But aside from one legitimately exciting proposal back in ought-thirteen, not much has happened.

Last month, yet another consultant provided two visions for the future of Lake Anne. One envisions Lake Anne more or less sealed in amber as the “original village”—essentially embracing the quirk. The other involves Lake Anne as a “destination landmark,” which would involve adding fun new cultural attractions, such as an amphitheater or giant pickleball arena/farmer’s market and maybe a fun parking garage to accommodate the newly teeming masses (sadly, the report makes no reference to a companion parking app).

But why stop there? We forwent our usual consultant's fee to come up with a few additional options:

1. Ye Olde New TowneThe Plaza already has a historic marker, so why not go all out? Instead of donning Colonial garb, paid reenactors could wear leisure suits and paisley frocks and demonstrate how to use a pay phone or 8-track. More fun than candlemaking!

2. Xtreme Lake AnneFor the outdoors enthusiast and thrill-seeker. Jump off the concrete statuary into tepid lake water! Mountain bike past the “no bicycles on the Plaza” signs! Take cold showers in the buildings without heat! 

3. The Mauve Light DistrictA while back, an enterprising businessperson had plans to sell exciting nighties and whatnot at the Plaza, but the High Sheriffs put the kibosh on that before the first feather boa was sold. Why not go all in, while still respecting the DRB color palette? 

4. The Global HOA Hall of Fame. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the “original village” concept above, the end.

This post was originally published in the Reston Letter.