News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brown's Chapel Rec Center: We Get Letters -- Really Long-Winded Letters

TajMahal.jpg.jpegHere's a copy of a letter sent to RA Board Member Frank Lynch about the awesome $65 million rec center/ Kabuki dinner theatre/ NASCAR theme park proposed for Brown's Chapel Park:

Hi Frank,

I’m one of your constituents and I was glad to read your email yesterday regarding the Brown’s Chapel project. I appreciate the time and effort you put into serving us here in North Point; thank you for your commitment.

I must have just missed working with you on the RA board; for several years I was very involved in moving the concept of indoor tennis onto the board’s radar. Evidently we were successful as eight courts are included in the plans for Reston’s very own version of the Taj Majal. Our expectations then, however, never resembled anything that is being proposed today. We envisioned a more modest approach to an indoor tennis facility, a few courts with adequate parking.

Thank you for responding to the community’s conversation about the rec facility. It was good to read the history of how we got to where we are.

The part of your email that bothers me the most is the part that reads:

That is where we are today....a preliminary drawing of the Taj Majal. It has always been my belief that that this is where the community process starts. I have no expectation that something like this will ever get built, nor would I support it. There are a number of public meetings scheduled to work the process. Neither board has made any decisions to move forward and has left all options open (and there are many), including not working together.

I wonder why the RA and RCC boards would be interested in spending their time (and our precious assessment dollars) for two years on something that it is not seriously considering. It is a ludicrous approach to doing business. Does Microsoft’s board gather for two years and throw out pie-in-the-sky ideas that they admit will probably go nowhere but why not shoot for the moon just for fun? I seriously doubt it. They talk about what issues are germane to moving the Microsoft business forward in the real world, for real customers. They are respectful of and responsible to their shareholders; I doubt they have much interest in going down a path that doesn’t hold much promise.

I mean no disrespect to you or the RA Board, but your email describes a rear-end-first approach to doing Reston’s business.

Shouldn’t the community process start with: What do we need? and then: What can we afford? If the Robert E. Simon Center (it already has a name!) is just an fantasy, then why is the board so defensive, and why are all of us on the opposition side reacting passionately to something that you state is really just a daydream? It doesn’t feel anything like a daydream, Frank. It feels very real and a lot of people are really, really angry about it.

You may be the only one who is thinking this way. Robin Smyers (a friend of mine) is taking this pretty seriously from what I can tell. Larry Butler and some others have all expressed hope that the community will embrace the concept and see it through to “reality” (a real quote). I’m pretty sure they would like a building just like this to be built.

And why was it kept so secret? Why are the plans so far along when the community at large found out about it? Why was it so hard for people to get details about it (Brown’s Chapel neighbors tried for months and could get no where and were actually told lies). Shouldn’t community input have come at the beginning rather than after elevations and plans have been drawn up and names have been selected? Now we’re all running around like crazy trying to figure out how to get this thing stopped before someone shows up with a bulldozer.

I cannot tell you how inane the whole thing appears to the community. People are literally smacking their foreheads and saying, “What are they thinking?”

I’m sure we’ll meet in the days and months ahead. In the meantime, I would urge you to take a stance against this proposed abomination right now. This would demonstrate that voices in the North Point district are being heard and that you respect and are standing firm with your constituency.

Jane Acton
Okay then! Meanwhile, here's a link to minutes from a recent Reston Community Center board meeting (link to ridiculously long PDF), which some are pointing to as a smoking gun that this is perceived as a done deal because they've already agreed on a name and gate fees and whatnot. But according to the Powerpoint, they're planning belly dancing, zumba and badminton classes. So everyone relax! It's not all about the indoor tennis after all!


  1. Just a dumb question... Would future issues like this be avoided to some degree if Reston was a real city with a real council, mayor, etc? Obviously, accusations and conflict would remain, but the question is if the secrecy level in terms of planning, committees, public comment, etc would be abated a bit.

  2. Two years of behind closed doors conspiracy between two public bodies with cooked information and predetermined outcomes is intolerable.

    Between the Snake Den fiasco, the office building idiocy and this dishonest, secretive sandbagging exercise, someone on the RA board or staff needs to leave. Now!

  3. Can I get a refund on all my RA dues money that went into this? Smells like breach of fiduciary duty by the RA president to me.

  4. Anonymous No. 1 -- It would help, because then any time the "Reston town council/decision makers" gathered they would be legally obligated to advertise the meetings. I know they both advertise their meetings now, but they don't always make it clear what is on the agenda for those meetings or what they'll discuss and sometimes the information can be difficult to find. I'm not sure if it's archived and available online either. With Herndon, they release agendas for their meetings that list everything they'll be discussing. Their info is all online and the web site is fairly easy to navigate.

  5. Well... Why don't we revive the Reston Town debate? I am willing to take the lead if someone can provide some contacts, etc. I know the last attempt seems to have petered out, but I think it is worth a real push.


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