News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Brown's Chapel Rec Center: Don't Mess With Those Little Leaguers!

bad_news_bears.jpg.jpegAccording to a highly reliable source -- a 140-character "tweet" on what the kids call "the Twitters," Reston Little League has come out swinging (get it?) against the awesome new $65 million rec center/ rollerdrome/ monster truck arena.

Here's the letter they sent to all members:

On a number of occasions we have talked about proposals that could adversely impact the quality of the baseball facilities in the Reston area. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you one of the proposals that is of grave concern to the youth baseball community.

Reston Association (RA), Reston Community Center (RCC) and Fairfax County have put together a plan to develop the park at Browns Chapel into 170,000 square foot, $65,000,000 recreation center complex with 8 indoor tennis courts and a multi-story parking pavilion.

The development would eliminate all 3 baseball fields (2 90 foot diamonds used by Babe Ruth and 1 60 foot diamond used by RLL), batting cages, basketball courts, and picnic areas. It would destroy all of the open green space and require the removal of hundreds of trees. The baseball fields and batting cages at Browns Chapel are used not only by RLL, but also by Herndon Reston Babe Ruth League.

We are urging people to come to the Public Input Meeting which will take place on May 18 at 7:30 at the Lake Anne branch of the Reston Community Center (1609-A Washington Plaza). Show your support for saving Browns Chapel by wearing a white shirt or a baseball uniform. It would be very helpful if we could get as many of our players as possible to attend this meeting in uniform. A little reminder about who this proposal impacts would be very powerful.

We will need your support if we are going to preserve our facilities at Browns Chapel.
Hey, indoor tennis fans! Guess the ball's in your court (get it?)


  1. The Convict in Gulag 4May 7, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    And for those of us who support a more modestly sized banked track roller rink, please wear your roller skates, pads, helmet and mouth guard.

    Remember, folks, unlike Flat Track Derby Association rules, checking the other teams' members with your elbows will not result in 2 minutes in the penalty box.

  2. Really Buffy, don't the peasants know thier place? Tennis (indoors) is indubitably more important than hundreds of children and thier families enjoying a day of sport, now isn't it? Oh and that god-awful old Brown's Chapel! I can't wait to park my Range Rover on top of its remains.

    Tennis Anyone?!

  3. A Concerned Citizen.May 7, 2009 at 4:14 PM

    You know, the biases some of you are exhibiting are astounding. You really need to chill, and wait for all of the facts to come out. You are pre judging a sizeable portion of the recreational users in Reston.

    Tennis in Reston is not a sport for the country club set, or elite, as I see alluded to in various posts.

    There are literally thousands of people from pre-school to senior citizens participating in many different tennis programs and leagues, and they come from all walks of life, and most of them can't afford to just go join private clubs as many of you suggest, nor should they have to.

    All you need to do is drive around Reston and visit any of the tennis courts on any given day after school, or at night, and I think you will see a much more balanced and diverse picture than the one many of you want to portray.

    Please,be adult about this, and get all the facts, before you start hurling accusations and name calling

    In the end, tennis and baseball,and all of the other sports in Reston will peacefully co-exist. Just give the process a chance to play out.

  4. concerned citizen to baseball "Be quiet while we tennis types take your facilities away from you and don't you dare object or complain because all RA facilities are ours. The DRB is about to outlaw baseball in response to our petition. YOU WILL TAKE IT AND YOU WILL LIKE IT."

    This illegitimate "process" has been rigged in secret from the beginning to achieve a predetermined outcome.

    No one from baseball served on any of the entities that hatched this plot.

    DRB refused to upgrade the Hook Road 60' fields to meet minimum safety levels.

    DRB refused to light the 90' fields at Browns chapel.

    Now the proponents of this rip off make empty promises to upgrade other RA fields to make up for the loss of the best 60' field and only 90' fields that RA has.

    Like all prior promises, these are lies intended to make the liars feel better about themselves. These lies fool no one.

    None of the proponents of this proposal have acted in good faith.

    Its time to recall the proponents of this theft from all of their current positions.

  5. Concerned Citizen -- it isn't as if there aren't plenty of options for tennis players. How many courts are there in Reston? Yes, we see the diversity on them. We also see many of them. I personally see them often empty (of course I live on the less desirable south side).

    The last anon may be very pro-baseball to your taste, but he/she has a point about the process.

    On the heels of the HQ debacle, to have some this presented to us seeming much like a fait accompli is jarring. If we 'chill and wait for the facts to come out' it will be built and we will be paying for it -- whether we think it's a good idea or not! That is NOT open government or democratic process.

    And if people can't vent in a blog, especially this one, where do you want them to do it? Should the LL players occupy the tennis courts in protest for 'their fair share'?

  6. Between Gulag and Anonymous they are working hard at poisining the minds of residents without knowing all of the facts. I am concerned that North Reston residents are bias against other residents in this growing community and showing prejudice against residents who "don't look like them". Grow up people and get all of the facts before you make your decision. I am a proponent of baseball, but your facts about the baseball diamonds are extremely distorted.

  7. To Anonymous 5/8 9:54 - Any purported "baseball proponent" would correct what they perceive as "distorted baseball field facts" instead of making vague allegations of inaccuracy.

    "Waiting for facts" means allowing the proponents of this heist to frame the issues.

    That course of action is a recipe for the loss of the fields.

    Are you sure you're really a "baseball proponent" or a tennis advocate in cleats?

  8. To allow more opportunities for input from Members and to slow down the process, the Reston Association will hold a series of district meetings to get community input on the idea of building an indoor recreational facility.

    Therefore, the RA/RCC Joint Task Force meeting scheduled for May 18, 2009 will be rescheduled for June. However, there will still be a meeting of the Reston Community Center Finance Committee on that night and the public is welcome to provide input on the idea of building an indoor recreational facility.

    As part of the effort to capture as many ideas as possible and provide RA Members additional information, RA and RCC will hold district meetings after a market feasibility study is made public June 1, 2009. That report, by the firm of Brailsford and Dunlavey, will assess community needs and gauge whether Reston could support additional indoor recreational space. It will be delivered to a joint meeting of the RA Board of Directors and the Reston Community Center Board of Governors.

    “We are listening to the community and we want to continue to strengthen that process,” said RA President Robin Smyers. “We feel the need to hold meetings for our Members because we have different processes than does the RCC and we want to ensure our Members have every opportunity to learn about this project and provide input.”

    “We anticipate community attendance at RCC committee and Board meetings to provide us with feedback as well regarding this endeavor,” said RCC Board of Governors Chair, Carol Ann Bradley. “Both organizations will seek wide-spread community involvement in the discussions regarding this effort.”

    The dates for the district meetings are still being determined, but are expected to take place in June. The June meetings already announced on the RA and RCC Web sites will still be held. Those are the RA and RCC joint Board session at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 1 to receive the report from the consultants. That meeting will be held at RCC Hunters Woods. RCC’s Annual Public Hearing for Programs/Budget for fiscal year 2011 will be held June 15, 2009. That session will begin at 7 p.m. in RCC Hunters Woods. Members of the public are invited to provide comments at this annual public hearing and RCC’s Board of Governors anticipates getting important feedback from the community there regarding the indoor recreation facility.

  9. Could these troglodytes get anymore cynical?

    Oh, RA is slowing down the process to have district meetings over the summer.

    Right, they're going to have meetings just when Little League and Babe Ruth aren't playing and families are on vacation, so that come fall, RA can say, "We had all these meetings and few of you baseball types showed, so, obviously, hardly any baseball people care about losing these fields. Full speed ahead with the bulldozers."

    It's all too predictably conniving. Please.

  10. "There are literally thousands of people from pre-school to senior citizens participating in many different tennis programs and leagues, and they come from all walks of life, and most of them can't afford to just go join private clubs as many of you suggest, nor should they have to."

    Should every homeowner in Reston be forced to pay in excess of $4k so these people can play tennis in the wintertime? Why is it the responsability of every citizen to provide a very specific recreational activity? I have kids to send to college, and I don't need someone's hand in my pocket because some tennis players don't want to put on a coat and play outside.

  11. I recall a movement several years ago to create indoor tennis courts by putting a bubble over some of the existing courts (similair to the bubble that used to be over the ridge heights swimming pool). It would have been very inexpensive, and taken up no additional land (if I recall, the discussion was mainly about covering the courts at the high school, since that wouldn't have created an eyesore for any of the neighborhoods). This failed because of lack of interest. So now, we need even bigger, more expensive facilities for indoor tennis, when there wasn't even enough interest for a few courts under a dome??

  12. The obviously official, but NTL "anonymous" posting above about deferring the RA/RCC joint meeting until RA district meetings have been completed is NOT an effort to generate ideas, it is an effort to diffuse criticism and outrage. If everyone has their say in lightly attended meetings with no media present, then the likelihood that these people will complain at a joint RCC/RA meeting (by which time they will have prepared rejoinders) is substantially reduced.

    My recommendation: DO NOT attend the district meetings. Go directly to the RCC/RA joint meeting and complain loudly.

    As for the tennis advocate above, I believe that about 1,000 of you signed a petition a couple of years back for RA to build you an indoor tennis facility. Why should the 60,000 of us pay for you to play inside when there are four dozen RA courts community-wide. Its ludicrous, and just another example of lobbying to spend other people's money.

  13. The demand for recreational/sport venues is real. The types of recreation/sports needing space is diverse and growing. Reston is a special place that recognizes the value of top quality living experiences. This includes its citizens pursuits for excellence in public access recreation/sports.
    To address this topic from a purely NIMBY response is selfish and a clear case of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".
    Reston needs a recreation center to help meet the clearly documented need.
    Where? How big? At what cost? What does it offer? Are all valuable questions. And needs the WHOLE community to ask/answer. There was a very public endeavor by the RA/RCC to begin that process. Of course they dreamed big. We have elected representatives who we felt have the larger picture in mind. Reston is not ONLY about tennis or Little League or swimming or running or biking or football or soccer or every other recreation/sport it hosts. Reston IS about making these things available to all of its citizens.
    There is never a 'perfect" time to hold these discussions--we all have something tugging at us at all times that cause distractions. But we do have some free time to write a blog entry, write an email to our representatives, talk to our cluster association board members, voice an opinion. I do not think it helps to use "yellow journalism" "chest thumping" or snide comments about a personal pursuit of a particular recreational/sport activity. In fact, I am sure of it. More often than not it will boomerang back on the initiator and revel a small, petty, vindictive mind who has more interest in their own personal agenda than the greater community need.

  14. This plan isn't about sports. It's about paving over Reston's limited amount of open space. There are other options. Let the county, the whole county, pay for those other options, not just Reston's taxpayers.

  15. Me again-For the most part, Reston has always paid for what it truly wants. We wanted neighborhood pools--we have them. Paid for by local funds. We wanted paths--we have them. Paid for by local funds. We wanted local sports fields--we have them. Paid for by local funds. We wanted a community center that highlighted cultural arts and had a year-round aquatics venue--we have it. Paid for by local funds.
    The question before us now is simple. Do we want a recreation center? A place that addresses demands that have out paced what we have? A place that can be pointed to as another way Reston answers its own demands for excellence, access, and self sufficiency? Paid for by local funds.
    Can we expect the county to pay for it?
    Let us look at the current fiscal position of the county--ok--the answer is no. It was "no" before the current financial situation reared its ugly head. FCPA has no building plans on its Master Plan for the next TWENTY years. So, they have not entertained a thought about a rec center in/near Reston for the last twenty years AND it is not on the books for the next twenty years.
    Reston has a proven history of getting what it wants, regardless of the countys official position. I, for one, like the "boot straps" approach to local governance (don't get me started on that particular hot topic. Reston is Reston. It sometimes defies definition. Enough said.)
    To those who say "no more concrete--more grass/trees". Perhaps the compromise is to speak out to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and demand that any Reston "re-zoning" effort include a "green" compensation by the developer. In other words--if you want to tear something down to build something new, you need to make a positive contribution to the natural environment that is on or adjacent to the property. And that means new grass/trees/bushes/fields--not just a better rain gutter system that floods the neighbors down hill.
    It will be interesting to see who contributes to this discussion and who simply DEMANDS that it not be in their back yard, or interferes with their personal nature walks or disrupts their personal recreation/sport endeavor. This is a community discussion-it is not meant as an attack on some individuals personal interests. It is intended to address a larger community need. Contributions (meaning intelligent discussion) are the next logical step.

  16. I live as far away from Brown's Chapel Park as you can get and still live in Reston. I know a lot of young Reston families struggling to make ends meet. Why should they be burdened with more taxes to pay for something the whole county should pay for?

    I think the Small Tax District #5 should be abolished. It was created years ago at a time when the county refused to pay for a community center in Reston. It should have been abolished years ago. The only reason it continues to exist is because so few people know of its existence.

    If the county wants us to pay for all our community center expenses ourselves, how about following this out to its logical conclusion and agreeing to town status?

    If they want us to be separate, that's okay, let's be separate.

  17. "It will be interesting to see who contributes to this discussion and who simply DEMANDS that it not be in their back yard, or interferes with their personal nature walks or disrupts their personal recreation/sport endeavor. "

    Hmm... I live nowhere near Brown's Chapel, and I have only set foot there a handful of times. I still don't want my neighbors and myself to have to pay for a facility which will largely be used by non-residents (ie, people who won't help pay for it). Why should the people of Reston be forced to open their pockets to build this facility as a gift to the county? Furthermore, I don't want any more of Reston's green spaces to be destroyed. There is already a huge recreational facility just a few minutes from this- the YMCA. And for those who can't afford to use it, fees are calculated on a sliding scale so that it is accessable to the whole community.

    As for the "bootstraps" mentality, why not apply that personally and say that if you want a recreational activity which is not already provided, you should take responsability and pay for it yourself? Should my neighbors who are struggling to buy groceries have to pay so you don't have to drive out of your way to swim on your lunchhour?

  18. The construction cost is proposed at $65,000,000. Once everything is said and done, the loan for this would be $100,000,000. Assuming that the population of Reston is somewhere around 60,000, that comes out to approximately $1,600 from every man, woman and child in Reston. In other words, assuming the cost is spread evenly amongst all Restonians, my household will have to cough up $6,400 just so that some people can play tennis during the winter. I would rather put in high-efficiency windows in my home

    I say, if we really want the facility, let's start saving our pennies and dimes. Once we can afford to pay cash for this puppy, we can then revisit this issue.


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