News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brown's Chapel Rec Center: We Get Letters, or at Least Postcards


This attractive "post card" depicting happy would-be patrons of the proposed $65 million rec center slated to be built at Brown's Chapel Park in North Reston was delivered by a uniformed federal agent to Restonian World Headquarters the other day. It seems that the Reston Association and RCC have decided to accommodate large crowds at the next two public hearings -- on June 1 and June 15 -- by holding both in a room with a capacity of 400, as opposed to the broom closet used for the last "community input meeting" which, as it had to be explained to us since we are not "experienced journalists," wasn't actually a "community input meeting," but something else entirely.

So yay! Postcards! This same approach was also used to "remind" people to vote for the awesome RA headquarters proposal, and we all know how well that worked out.

In the meantime, scores fives of people have responded to RA President Robin Smyers' earlier comments on this site, including an equally detailed rebuttal by Peter Greenberg, one of the early opponents of the project, in the comments below. All joking aside, Smyers deserves credit for attempting to make her case to an audience that, based on comments on this filthy "web log," could charitably be described as "skeptical." Let's hope that both boards now actually listen to the crowds that show up at these two meetings, and not just skulk outside in the hallway.


  1. I am not an experienced journalist, I went to University of Florida and they have a top jouranlism school, does that count?
    I know this:
    1. RA IS trying to find ways to circumvent a referendum: see #7, read carefully.
    If Robin wants to have community input, a referendum is the only way to assure that people have a chance to have an impact with their voice. Even if one is not NEEDED, it should be done.  Robin, stop parsing and be a leader.
    At the meeting on the 18th, when asked repeatedly and directly whether there would be a referendum Robin would not answer. Finally, when anger was spilling out of the room, she responded.  She said, "I am not at liberty to say".
    The crowd groaned loudly.  I left the room.
    Reread the comment above, and then reread #6 and #7 of Robin's post.  I believe that means, "no, not if I have anything to do with it". But I'm not a real journalist, and could be misinterpreting.
    For a good time, attend the meeting at the RCC on June 1 at 6:30.  You can watch elected officials evade and patronize.
    2.  This is the largest capital project in the history of Reston. We are being asked to pay with $40,000,000 of our land (Browns Chapel Park), and $110,000,000 of our tax dollars.  We will pay for the building, the interest on the bond, and $1,000,000 per year or more in losses FOREVER.  That is over $150,000,000. 
    Even though we will pay for 100% of the expense, 70% of users will come from outside Reston.  Ms. Hudgins has convinced Robin to give away our land, pay for a building for Fairfax County, and cover all operating losses.  The worst business deal in history.
    3.  Kathy Hudgins, Bill Bouie, and Robin Smyers are the leaders most responsible for the developemnt of the building. 
    As an exercise in discovery do the following:
    I.  Read the Memorandum of Understanding between the Reston Community Center and Fairfax County.  Don't afraid it isn't very long. It will clearly state that all the power within that organization rests with the Hunter Mill District Supervisor (Hudgins). If you don't like to read, call the county attorney (that is what I did because I'm not a real journalist), his name is Mike Long. He'll tell you the same thing. 
    II.  Write Ms. Hudgins an email stating your view,whatever it might be, on the proposed building.
    III.  Get a response that will say something to the effect that she of course has nothing to with the project. 
    IV.  Get angry.  It is happening to a lot of people who try this little test.
    4.  If you were to attend the RA board meeting held April 22, you would have witnessed firsthand Robin Smyers discussing, "controlling the message", "at May 18 meeting (subsequently cancelled by RA because they didn't want to hear negative feedback) it will be RCC rules, we will control the meeting and will not take questions.  Speakers may only speak.", "we need to know how to construct the message and put the message out". 
    I believe the above is known as 'information dominance'.  Nice community input.  Don’t the people being asked to foot the bill have a right to ask questions about EVERY detail of the project? 

  2. (continued)

    5.  It is very important that we all know and understand both the history and the details of "Small District 5 Tax". Do your homework.  When you’re done, you may be upset.  There are only 3 such districts in all of Fairfax County, the other large district is McLean.  The third is tiny. 
    Ask yourself why only McLean and Reston have such a tax. I did, and then I asked Kathy Hudgins. She said a whole bunch of stuff I couldn't understand because I'm not real smart; when she was done I asked her "did you just say it is because everyone in Reston and McLean are rich?"
    6.  There are 381,000 households in Fairfax County. There are 23,000 households in Small District 5.  If the county wants to build a facility that will be predominately for the use of people not paying to construct it, then why doesn't the County ask all 381,000 people to pay for it?
    I know the answer, there is no money to fund, and no political will either.  Only by sticking us with the bill can Mr. Bouie and Ms. Hudgins have their Hunters Mill Recreatioin Faciltiy.
    7.  Check the facts for yourself. Nothing has been decided except: where the facilty will be, how much it will cost, how it will be paid for, who will pay for it, and get this, what it will be named.
    That's right, it has a name. The name is the Robert E. Simon Recreation Center.  Smart. That is the smartest thing they have done. By naming it after the influential founder of the community, they have played an ace. My son asked an interesting question however.  Why didn't they just name the park after Mr. Simon?  Mr. Simon loves parks. Ryan is 9. 
    There are a few things that have not been decided.  For example, how can a referendum be circumvented.  We pesking community members (there were 250 at the meeting on the 18th from every district in Reston, and boy were they angry)are messing up Ms. Hudgin's plans. Another thing that has not been decied is how the county can float a bond, with us as the borrowers, without a referendum for that. 
    8. In point 3 of her post, Robin talks about a small vocal minority.  First, there were 250 people at that meeting. I would say that is unprecedented for an RCC Finance Committee Meeting. Second, the people were from every part of the community, it is merely a debate tactic to be dismissive of the group.  Third, how can the President of RA Board be dismissive of a group that large, no matter where they live.  She is supposed to be the trusted fair arbiter of information, not take a side.  She is supposed to lead us through a process, not search for ways to be "information dominant".  Robin has clear, repeated, prefernces. In my view, that is inappropriate for a person in her role on a project of this magnitude. 
    9.  RA has had at least 5 opportunities in the past 12 months to provide indoor tennis to us, its members, by covering existing tennis facilities. This would have come at a reasonable cost to us.  They decided instead to force us to spend $150,000,000. We should say NO.

  3. (continued)

    10. It is FACT that Milton Mathews told at least one person in attendance that RA is seeking ways to circumvent a referendum. The purpose is to do by indirect means what cannot be done by direct means.  You cannot disprove something simply by saying it did not happen.
    11. I have been extremely vocal on this issue, at first because I live on Browns Chapel park, but now because this is the worst business deal in history and we are being asked to take the loss. As information has been communicated throughout the community, there is an enormous group from all over Reston that both knows about this issue, and is opposed to it.
    Today I was on the 12th hole of the Reston National Golf Course (South Reston) with 3 friends. Playing poorly.  I stoppd to talk with 2 boys where were in the rough outside one of the homes lining the golf course. They were shagging baseballs. I asked them if they were in Reston Little League. They were.  I asked if they knew about the Rec Center that would destroy thier ball fields, they did.  They said "it is terrible that they will build that building".  I told them to do something about it, and they replied "we're just kids, what can we do". I told them. Hopefully they are brave enough to follow through. 
    THIS IS NOT A GROUP FROM A PORTION OF RESTON, THIS IS NOT A SMALL VOCAL MINORITY.  This is an angry, focused, dedicated community in opposition to:
    I.  The destruction of our open space at Browns Chapel Park.
    II. Gifting Fairfax County anything, let alone our precious park worth tens of millions of dollars.
    III. Paying for a Fairfax County Recreation Center, no matter what it is named. 
    12.  This same group is solidly supportive of:
    I. A Reston Association covered tennis facility which utilizes one of our existing courts.
    II. A Reston Association or RCC covered 50 meter swimming pool exclusively for the use of Reston citizens or SD5 citizens depending upon who is paying for it.  

    13. You can stop by Reston Association offices and pick up their map. The headline is "Living in Reston is like Living in a Park".
    Really? Then why destroy the largest park in the community (Browns Chapel) and replace it with a facility that is 510,000 linear square feet of pure concrete. That is the size of 3 Wal Marts.

  4. Greenberg is entirely right about the RCC Board, they are advisory only. Hudgins makes the real decisions.

    Long time Restonians will remember that here was a big dust up when Bob Dix was Supervisor over the power of the RCC Board and it was clearly stated then that the only decision making power for Small Tax Disrict #5 was the Board of Supervisors. The RCC Board is only advisory. On this issue, the other BOS members will defer to Cathy.

    It was deceitful for her to write in her latest newsletter that she has no role in this. She's behind this. Bouie wouldn't make a move without her approval.

    Apparently she thinks this facility will help revitalize Lake Anne. As if!

    So what Democrat is ready to challenge Cathy in a primary if she moves forward with this? Lovaas where are you?

  5. Re: Hudgins. I have never voted for her because I have never felt she represents my viewpoint, but rather categorizes me as one of those who can 'afford' to subsidize other beneficiaries' social programs. Nonetheless she is re-elected each time she comes up for it. Does this reflect that we in Reston, just pull the "status quo" lever each time? I don't care whether her replacement is a Dem or Rep or Ind or Vulcan -- just get rid of her!

  6. So much has been said; so much has been documented/witnessed as to the ineffective leadership embedded in RCC & RA Boards and senior staff; and sadly now so many are beginning to see the Hudgins/Bouie connection to this obscene proposal. I spent 35 years in County government and it truly dismays and saddens me to see those leaders I worked for, trusted, and supported now turning away from the very foundations of protecting the interests of the many and not just a self agenda driven few. I know both Mr.Bouie and Ms. Hudgins....been in front of the Park Authority Board and the BoS many times... as I write this I looked over to see the BoS resolution presented to me in August 2008.. "...Board of Supervisors, on behalf of all residents of Fairfax County, does thank and congratulate Michael R for 35 years of knowledgeable and notable service..." I spent a career life protecting the County's natural and cultural resources and providing needed programs and parks (including open space) and could only have done so with the support of the Park Authority and the Board of Supervisors...Bill and did you lose your way? What went so wrong that you now cater to special interest groups to the detriment of your constituents in Reston? To allow the jeopardizing of the financial sustainability of STD5? To stand on the sidelines while misguided personal agendas from RCC & RA senior staff and the RA Board Chairman to be pushed regardless of the many voices objecting to the ill conceived rec center and associated costs? Where is your voice to represent us..we need your vocal support not standard PC replies to emails. Supervisor Hudgins...this IS your district and YOU do control what goes on in this district (remember, I come from County government...I know from experience how things work...I guess I can be called and 'insider')
    Help us protect our open space/natural resources (Brown's Chapel Park and it IS shown on the Reston [overall] master plan as OPEN SPACE); help us end this insane, poorly handled, out-of-control mega rec center...get back with the people you need to support. Join us...there can be no bystanders..

  7. The Convict in Gulag 4May 26, 2009 at 2:16 PM

    Well, I've started my listening campaign and I would like to thank all of you who have made it apparent that we need Change in Reston. To that end, I will WORK toward (although I'm not promising anything) the following:

    1). Stopping the Taj Ma-Rec-Center slated for Brown's Chapel

    2). Reducing crime in the Gulag, South Reston

    3). Reducing average real estate tax bills for all Reston homeowners while still providing adequate tax revenues to the county

    4). Reducing proposed housing density in Middle Earth, Lake Anne area.

    5). Increasing available recreational facilities in Reston without increasing taxes

    I will seek to do this by

    1). Redeveloping certain properties in the Gulag, South Reston as market rate high rises

    2). Redeveloping certain properties in the Gulag, South Reston as a mixed use recreational facility to include the much needed roller rink, curling venue and bocci ball facilities

    3). Pursuing an FTDA roller derby franchise to offset the additional costs of said recreational facilities in the Gulag, South Reston

    4). Offering Robin Smyers a position as Jammer and Cathy Hudgins as Pivot on the new Reston FTDA roller derby team (We may have to pay for their roller skates and mouth guards though.)

    5). Having Small District 5 reduced from it's current configuration to include only territory north of Route 267

    6). Requesting that the Tax Rate for Small District 5 be reduced to $1.99 per thousand and a reduction in assessed value of homes in SD5 to 85% of market value.

    So, at the next election, remember that...

    a vote for The Convict is a vote for Change!


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).