News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Metro Silver Line Could Still Open This Summer, But 'Summer' May Have The Same Fluid Meaning As 'Complete'

Even as we wait with bated breath for airport authority officials to deem the incomplete Silver Line project "substantially complete," Metro has announced a deal that will allow it to take over the project even as the authority works with contractors to fix all the substantially incomplete problems still dogging the substantially complete project. While we've been skeptical, the upshot of all this is that the Silver Line just might still open by summer, after all (keep clapping!), but the definition of "summer" might be about as fluid as the definition of "substantially complete." After all, late November is often called Indian Native American summer, right?

Give us some good blockquote, Washington Post:

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said the transit authority and MWAA have hashed out a plan to resolve several outstanding issues, including a timetable for the installation of hundreds of speakers in the rail line’s five stations that had to be ripped out and reinstalled because they did not meet fire code. The agreement is a significant step forward for the $5.6 billion rail line, which is already seven months overdue and $150 million over budget.

“While there are still outstanding items for the Airports Authority and their contractor to resolve, today’s agreement allows us to move this project closer to opening day for our customers by allowing certain tasks to be completed after the project is in Metro’s control,” Sarles said. “We expect that the Airports Authority will complete the remaining items in a timely fashion, thereby allowing us to open the line this summer.”
Bigger problems with the automatic train control system will take a year to fix, but Metro has, as they say in the movies, a plan: they'll just pay some guy to watch the trains zip around on a computer screen like a game of Tetris have someone monitoring the system full time, which sounds like a good idea to us anyway.

Our BFFs at Reston 2020 have a few modest questions, including these last four:
What are the specific terms of the various "side deals" that are needed to arrive at this Rube Goldberg "substantial completion" arrangement?

What will be the impact of this near-bogus acceptance inspection process of MWAA's application for TIFIA financing, financing that could save toll road users as much as a third in huge future toll growth?

Who will pay for the extra costs created by having people monitor the Silver Line trains rather than RTUs for the next year or so? If not DTP, why?

And, oh yes, when will the Silver Line to Reston be open for business????
Silly rabbits, there's a website for that!

All we know is that we'll look forward to celebrating the Substantially Complete Summer opening of the Wiehle Avenue station in our gloves and parkas, the end.

Some Action McNews coverage, if you're into such things:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bummer: Another Longtime Lake Anne Business Closes Its Doors (Or Has Them Closed On It)

JasmineOne of Lake Anne's oldest restaurants, Jasmine Cafe, unexpectedly closed last week Tuesday afternoon. Our BFFs at Reston Now say that the landlord locked the restaurant out, putting up business-friendly "no trespassing" signs. Give us some good blockquote:

Chef and owner Eduardo Faubert says he was just made aware of the situation Wednesday afternoon. He said he did not close the restaurant and the lock was placed by the property owner. Faubert says he does owe the owner some money, but hopefully the situation will be settled quickly.
Times, they are a-changin' at the Plaza. In February, we learned that Lake Anne Pharmacy, the last of the Plaza's original businesses, is under contract to be sold. But some things never seem to change -- other, newer (and occasionally more eyebrow-raising) businesses have tried to break into the Plaza, only to run into problems with landlords. In fact, the county's 2009 report on the Plaza's retail woes singles out multiple commercial landlords, low expectations, and "lease structures that don't match up with commensurate sales volumes" as reasons for the frequent turnover. With new development coming, that may change, but in the meantime, we'll miss one of the Plaza's oldest businesses.

A shout-out to Faubert was posted on Lake Anne Plaza's Facebook Page:
Owner Chef Eduardo Faubert has been a 25 year member of the Lake Anne community who's warmth and charm will be missed. We wish Eduardo the very best and hope that he is able to work things out successfully.
As do we.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Flashback Monday: Reston's First Single-Family House, And The Tenuous Thread of History Between It and This Web Log

Furst reston houseWe all know that Lake Anne Plaza and its groovy rabbit warren of not-even-remotely-near-town townhouses and midrises are at the center of Reston's ur-creation myth. But what about the first single-family home, complete with appropriately earth-toned fence and appropriately colored stone/mulch combinations to attract the "squares," as the kids back then might have said?

Turns out it was built at exactly the same time, meaning that Reston's first single-family home is also celebrating a Multiples of 50 anniversary this year. And more shockingly, it was in Less Desirable South Reston! Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at the Fairfax Times:

In 1964, when architect and homebuilder Ken Bonner, 75, built the first home south of the Dulles Access road in Reston, he remembers having to transport a portable generator to the building site in the back seat of his 1957 Ford because there were no power lines yet.

“It was rough,” he said. “That was a cold, wet winter and I was building primarily in the mud, with only woods around me. We had to haul all our equipment down there by hand and on foot from Reston Parkway. There wasn’t any other road to drive on yet.”

The home, Reston’s first detached single-family house, still stands today on Stirrup Road and turns 50 this year, along with Reston itself.
Turns out the first owners of the ultramodern house were less than pleased with the other, more typical suburban homes that were built nearby, which in turn, led to the Reston Times, which in turn, led to the Internet and filthy "web logs." SRLSLY:
Joan Smith has lived in Reston’s first stand-alone house since 1967. She and her husband purchased it from the Segman family, the home’s first owners, when they moved out after only three years.

According to both Smith and Bonner, Ralph and Sally Segman became disillusioned when other environmentally conscious homes were not built on surrounding lots. They voiced their displeasure in a newsletter they created that eventually became the Reston Times newspaper.

“This is the room where the Reston Times was born,” said Smith, pointing to her den.
Something tells us that somewhere down the road, a down-on-their-luck real estate agent will think about using the same line about Restonian World Headquarters, but then think better of it and get some tiki torches out of her car instead.

Of course, this history-filled Quinquagenarian home is not to be confused with Reston's oldest extant building, which itself was part of the drunken village of Wiehle that predated the nudists, and then, the new urbanists, the end.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Jelly Jars and Puzzles: The Tributes to Reston's Favorite Centenarian Keep Coming

Smuckers BobThe hits from the Multiples of 50  celebrations just keep coming! First up, we have this exciting jelly jar-themed teevee birthday shout out to Bob Simon on the (alleged) news program, the Today Show.



The best thing? Simon was credited by Cyborg Willard Scott for founding a town, not "loving to bowl" or collecting pig figurines, or something along those lines. Good on him.

But television is ephemeral, fleeting. If you want a more lasting tribute, you can always pick up one of the snazzy new Reston: The Jigsaw Puzzles, on offer through April 25 by your favorite homeowners association. Who wouldn't want to gather in front of a roaring fire and piece together this image?

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At $45 per 500-piece puzzle, that works out to a mere nine cents per piece of jigsaw fun!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shocker: Yet Another Reston Found, This One On The Illinois Prairie

Reston Ponds mapAs regular readers of this "web log" know, our extensive team of cartographers are constantly scouring the globe for evidence that the Reston Way of Life has spread. So far, their tireless efforts have uncovered Reston doppelgängers in England, Scotland, Ireland, Maryland, and Canada. Their most recent discovery was in Florida, but now we've found yet another Reston, this one in Illinois.

Welcome to Reston Ponds, a housing development in Sycamore, Illinois, which the developer's website calls "a place where smiles are a way of life." Wow, the parallels are uncanny. With ranch and two-story homes from $199,900, Reston Ponds has... ponds. And some lovely, not-so-Restony tract housing:

Ashburn prairie
Welcome to Ashburn on the Prairie.

There are other dissimilarities. There's no ersatz Fake Downtown gritty urban core, but rather a historic downtown dating to the 1850s. Yawn, someone wake us up when they start attracting gritty flash mobs.

But Reston Ponds does have one thing its namesake doesn't. According to the developer's website, the town's Barnes & Noble appears to still be in business.

BURN.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happy 100th, Mr. Simon!

Today is Bob Simon's 100th birthday. From Carnegie Hall to a high-rise he built at around the time of his 50th birthday on the shores of a lake that he also built, it's been quite a century for Reston's founder. Let's celebrate by taking a walk around Lake Anne and raising a martini, as Simon still does every day -- at least when he's not busy playing the congas, dog sledding in Canada or visiting India, to name a few of the things things he's done in just the last few years.

As impressive as his accomplishments have been in urban planning and remaining a civic leader for nearly an unbroken half-century, he's also become a legitimate role model for aging in place -- and aging well. We can only hope we're in as good shape when we're half his age, even if we can't quite celebrate our 50th trip around the sun by building a planned community of our own.

So raise a glass to Mr. Simon. And let's also thank him again for not building his New Town on Staten Island or calling it Simon City.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Democracy in Action: Whopping 14 Percent of Reston Households Elect Three New RA Board Members

We joke about RA's elections sometimes having the whiff of the Soviet about them, given that candidates have often run unopposed in the past. This year, that wasn't the case, with eight candidates seeking three seats on the RA Board of Directors. Even the apartment owner's seat generated a bit of write-in controversy this go-around. So um, yay democracy in action!

Jeff Thomas was elected to one of the at-large seats, defeating incumbent and board vice president Andy Sigle, as well as fellow challengers Reston Citizens Association President Colin Mills, Mason Miller, and Michael Mackert. So maybe those robocalls weren't such a bad idea after all.

Rachel Muir was elected to complete a one-year term on the other open at-large seat, defeating former RA CEO Gerald Valloy. Lucinda Shannon won an unopposed race for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood seat.

Apartment owners seat candidate Ellen Graves won her election against write-in candidate Kimberly Miller, 9-4. (That's not the margin of victory, BTW, that's the actual number of landed gentry rental complex owners that cast votes.)

The overall election numbers don't sound all that much larger, with a whopping 14 percent of RA households casting ballots, beating the required -- yet not that super high of a threshold -- 10 percent quorum. But the RA has, as they say in the movies, a plan:

In an effort to both reduce the financial impact of an election, and to align with Reston’s goals to be environmentally sustainable, approximately 54 percent of voters cast their ballots online this year. Voters were also asked to signify their interest in an online-only option to vote in future elections.
If you've got an hour and three minutes of free time on your hands, you can watch the full video of last night's annual meeting:



But if you had an hour and three minutes on your hands, you probably would have voted, the end.

Update: The board has selected its officers:
Ken Knueven will continue to serve as president. Ellen Graves was selected as vice president. Michael Sanio will be secretary and member, while John Higgins will continue to serve as treasurer.