News and notes from Reston (tm).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Brown's Chapel Rec Center: RA, RCC Love Themselves Some "Community Input," Delay Decision on Project

TajMahal.jpg.jpegHey, guess what? The indoor recreation facility process has been slowed to gain more community input. We know this because the Reston Association issued a press release (PDF) titled "Indoor Recreation Facility Process Slowed to Gain More Community Input." So the awesome $65 million rec center/ velodrome / competitive chess arena planned for Brown's Chapel Park will just have to wait a bit longer, while the RA and Reston Community Center collect some of that "community input" that so far has been relegated to filthy "web-logs" like this one.

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 district meetings will be held in June, along with a joint RA/RCC board session at 6:30 on June 1 to discuss the aforementioned study and a RCC annual meeting on June 15. Conspiracy theories about the thinking behind this move are already percolating in the comments, but we'll just say that we're glad that these two boards are realizing the damage that the lack of transparency about this project has caused and are trying to address it.


  1. Ex Cluster PrezMay 9, 2009 at 2:29 PM

    Just an note on who uses the open spaces at Brown's Chapel most. It's not baseball or tennis players. It's runners and walkers. This is a very large group that is quite diverse in age and gender. Year-round use.

    Ask yourselves --When was the last time Reston made more open space? When did we get less buildings and more trees?

  2. RA announced that they are canceling the meeting on May 18. Are they backing down? No. Clearly they feared the turnout would not be in their favor and they would not come out looking good. They are now saying that they will hold district meetings in June and other meetings at Hunter's Woods will be held. So they would like smaller meetings or meetings further from the affected area. I wonder why. Does the phrase divide and conquer come to mind? Make it more difficult by meeting further away and hope less people show up. This is political tactics at work.

    RA say in their memo that they want more community input and at the same time cancel the first meeting that would have provided an opportunity to hear that input. This isn't communication it's manipulation. Just wait and see it will just be the first example of political PR at work.

  3. All,
    I agree with the RCC and RA proposal to redevelop space across Baron Cameron Avenue from Lake Anne Plaza to create a North Reston Community Center (NRCC).

    No! It need not cost more tax dollars; Small Tax District Number 5 dollars have finished paying for the bonds on the community center at Hunters Woods and the recent infrastructure updates. There are now funds available to expand the vision of the Reston Community Center (RCC) to North Reston (e.g. the North Reston Community Center). Reston lacks the same amenities provided to Herndon and McLean from a County point-of-view; we should petition the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to help approve the bonds to support this goal; Small District Number 5 should be able to support his endeavor.

    I believe this proposal resolves three important community issues:

    1) Redress the lack of indoor swimming facilities large enough for our entire community;

    2) Provide long needed additional amenities for our community, including indoor tennis; and

    3) Address the need for meeting space for RA and the Clusters (e.g. eliminate the need to pay for commercial sources), or the exorbitant cost of leasing/building an overflow RA headquarters.

    When I first moved to Reston over 20 years ago, I went to Hunters Woods to use the swimming pool at lunchtime. I was turned away at the door and told that the pool was full. I am still not sure why, but I always thought that the existing users (including non-Reston resident Corporate people) had taken all the spaces. I used the facilities at the Fairfax funded Recreation Center in Herndon and was happy to see the Herndon Commanders swimming team train and hold their meets there. Perhaps we could encourage South Lakes High School to create a team that would train and compete at the new North Reston Community Center (NRCC). This arrangement could provide Lifeguards at reduced cost, as it does in Herndon.

    Indoor tennis and community space for exercise facilities were available from RA when I first move here. It seems that lack of community interest and political pressure from private facilities resulted in the removal of these amenities. I believe we need to re-examine our priorities, particularly in light of the proposals to build a multi-million dollar headquarters for RA. A NRCC could address these needs.

    RA may need to acquire more space to attract and retain talented staff. They absolutely do not need more space to retain records. If our hired executive staff is not able to reduce those records to digital media then we need to either retrain them or hire new personnel. In the 21st century, we need not have thousands of cubic feet of filing cabinets. Anyone who says “Virginia law” requires this wasteful maintenance of physical files should be labeled as either a Luddite or intellectually lazy. We absolutely have the necessary expertise in the community, so I dearly hope we do not see any consulting contracts to examine this issue. Volunteers, please step forward! We may need something like a Covenants Committee (aka Records Management Committee) supported by an RA Project Manager.

    Phil Pohl (

  4. Reston already has TWO community centers, one at hunters woods and one at Lake Anne. If there is a real, serious need for larger facilities, has RA/RCC looked into expanding either of these rather than eliminating one of the few green spaces left in Reston?

    I have lived in Reston for over 25 years, and in that time I have seen it slowly change from a green oasis into a built-up area resembling most of the rest of ffx county. So much of what made Reston special is already gone- in truth, there is very little green space left. We need to preserve what we have- once it's gone, it can't be put back.

    Has anyone looked into the amount of wildlife habitat that will be lost if this area is paved over?

  5. So Phil is prepared to sacrifice the needs of hundreds of kids to satisfy his own desire to swim at a time convenient to him.

    How noble.

    Brown's Chapel is not empty "space", Phil.

    It's three baseball fields, a basketball court, a picnic pavilion, a concession stand with lavatories and lots of green space.

    Your posting makes clear that they mean nothing to you but they mean a lot to most of Reston. Nothing in your post addresses the loss of these resources to the thousands of Restonians who use them now.

    So very considerate of the needs of others. What a guy!

  6. Actually, Reston has three community centers at the present time.

    If Fairfax County wants to create a "world-class" sports complex big enough to host national sporting events, they should buy up one of the many, near-empty office buildings that are to be seen all over town and redevelop that. Those buildings already come with parking. And the entire county should pay for it, not just Small Tax District #5.

    Reston's open spaces and woodlands need to be preserved. They are part of our history as a community. They form the core of our identity as a very unique and special place.

  7. The proposal to build a recreation center in North Reston raises two questions: Does the community need/want a recreation center? And who should pay for it? I will leave the first question to others. The answer to the second question should be all Fairfax County taxpayers. Reston residents now help pay for recreation facilities throughout the County and pay extra for the Reston Community Center (and the facilities provided by Reston Association). Why this is so is a long and unhappy story, but if more recreation facilities are to be built in Reston, it is not too soon for Reston residents to insist that they get their fair share of County resources.

  8. Phil, I have to respond to your comment. The key phrase is "county funded". Yes, let county funds support a county recreation on county land. Do not ask your Reston neighbors to give away a beautiful park, pay for the construction, the debt on the loan and the operating shortfalls. You have to ask yourself, why isn't the whole county paying for this one?

  9. Wow! At least this space is not subject to the Gulag and Buffy comments of the earlier edition of this discussion. If anyone cares, I love Buffy (in the many forms I know) and have read Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago” (which is a detailed examination of Soviet oppression at its worst). Anyone who invokes the term Gulag to describe life in Reston should be branded as both ignorant and inflammatory; we should not listen to such talk, period. Perhaps enlisted personnel were overly propagandized during the Cold War or in its aftermath.

    By-the-Way: There is no need to remove baseball fields, basketball courts or recreation facilities.
    The RA space in North Reston encompasses several hundred acres. Just for the record, the Brown’s Chapel location is not “sacred”; it was moved to its current location several years ago. The Chapel is several hundred feet from Baron Cameron and could be moved another hundred or so feet to make room for a facility and parking.

    There is also a lighted tennis court nearby. That facility could become the site for the new, proposed indoor facility we are talking about; and it already has much parking. And, beyond that, there are several acres of unused and decrepit “Par course” trails nearby that could be re-developed. No one has to lose on this proposal if everything is put on table.

    I’m really not convinced that anyone is talking about removing any baseball fields, but I do believe that we have some new residents with big houses that do not want a community facility behind their homes. Now that Reston needs more expansion on public land, these new residents are suddenly opposed to development behind their homes. If we plan the project properly, they may not be happy in the short-run, but in the long-run a world-class facility will increase the value of their homes.

    Big cheer for baseball and basketball! This argument is mere chimera. No one, I repeat, no one, wants to remove the baseball or basketball fields! If RA and RCC have proposed paving over all these facilities, they have obviously overlooked the chance to re-develop the existing tennis courts and the Par course.

    No problem! We can educate them!
    Let’s all come together on a proposal that works for everyone.
    I see a compromise proposal in the offing and look forward to a positive result!


  10. The Convict in Gulag 4May 12, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    Phil, you are truly one boorish dude and an intellectual snob. If I didn't know better, I would swear from your complete overreaction to my comments that a groundhog has probably climbed into your rear end and died..

    Little did you know, that not only did I also read The Gulag Archipelago in high school, but that I have family that did time in the gulags. In fact, one relative spent 10 years more or less in one of the camps out in Siberia.

    But here's a key difference between me and you, Phil. Unlike you, my family and I have a sense of humor about these regrettable, unfortunate events. So, Phil, I hope that you manage to extract that dead rodent from your butt which seems to be blinding you to (1) other people's valid opinions and (2) the humorous possibilities of this discourse. Until then, ya umulayu tebye, perestan ebat moi mozg svoimi glupistami.

  11. North Point BabeMay 12, 2009 at 11:52 PM

    Phil, have you seen the proposed site plan for the new indoor recreation complex? It is available on If built the complex would eliminate all 3 baseball fields, the basketball courts, playground, family picnic area, most of the green space and hundreds of trees. This is not MY opinion. It is clearly STATED in the RA/RCC Joint Task Force minutes.

    Please don't make us out to be a bunch of NIMBY alarmist. No imagination is required to see where this project is going.


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