News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brown's Chapel Rec Center: Another Week, Another "Community Input" Meeting

TajMahal-OJ.jpg.jpegSouth Lakes Mom, one of our regular commenters, attended this week's community input meeting on the rec center / juice bar planned for Brown's Chapel Park. A couple of points from her well-reasoned and even-handed account of the meeting (posted elsewhere, as well-reasoned and even-handed commentary have no place on this filthy "web-log") struck us as particularly telling:

Many of the people who had a lot to say about this (masquerading as questions) are part of the over 60 crowd. Many of them have been in Reston since the 1960s. They’ve enjoyed the benefit of all of the amenities that they would now deny the younger folks. Our standards for recreation have changed over time, and to refuse to even listen to other people shows that one has become an embittered oldster rather than a helpful member of the community. If the purpose of the meeting was enlightenment for those who came for information, the attacks and zealotry clearly stifled productive discourse.
While we've made plenty of hay about of the utter lack of transparency involved in this process, this is something we've actually been mulling for some time. Be prepared for a touching and heartfelt post on this sometime soon. At the same time, though, something else hasn't changed:
I thought some of the RA respondents were a bit patronizing. Yes, you’re under attack, but RA’s lack of transparency has led to this adversarial relationship. Seize the moral high ground and don’t be patronizing or rude. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you telling someone their comment is ‘counterproductive’ or ‘just plain rude’. Let’s be grown-ups about this.
Also from Monday's meeting: USTA and US Swimming are now backing the need for indoor swimming facilities, and someone suggested a new proposal which is so crazy, It Just Might Work:
One semi-great suggestion came up in regards to the rezoning of the area that parallels the toll road. It was that the additional parking deck could be multi-tasked to provide the requested indoor facilities and parking for them... if you build a huge facility at Brown’s Chapel to accomodate USTA and US Swimming’s desires for a venue for their events, you’re asking all that traffic to go up Wiehle Ave or Reston Parkway to get there. If people can just hop off the toll road and park, it’s a much better idea.
And maybe one of the private developers in that same area can just open an Orange Julius franchise next to the Metro station, eliminating the need for the juice bar! An Orange Julius would fit right in with the station's rad '80s artwork, after all.

The next "community input" meeting is scheduled for 7 pm next Tuesday, June 30, in the Armstrong Elementary School cafeteria. Given that's the North Reston meeting, we'd say that the meeting's host, RA rep Frank Lynch, will likely have his hands full.


  1. Q: Where will the skillion dollars to pay for the Taj..sorry Wreck Center comefrom?

    RA: From bonds.

    Q: Reston isn't GM. We have to pay bonds back. How?

    RA: From the taxes we aren't going to raise?

    Q: Du Whut?

    RA: The new taxes will come from the new businesses around the Wheile Metro Station.

    Q: If Metro fails or is delayed who pays for the bonds?


  2. The Convict in the GulagJune 24, 2009 at 1:04 PM

    Pshaw, Anonymous. Have you learned nothing from the housing bubble? We take the money, build the facility (wherever we can all agree on it) and then default on the bonds. So what if they foreclose on us. In fact, we should only leverage the structure and not the land underneath. That way, when they foreclose on the building, we can start charging them lease on the land.

    Even I know this and I'm neither a CitiGrope or Bunk of America employee.

  3. I wanted to ask a question but was never called but there were a lot of people never called on. I wanted to ask what the comparison for the number of indoor tennis courts and indoor swim lanes for other upper middle class communities per 1000 residents. Columbia Maryland for example.

    I thought Cheryl Beamer was very eloquent as was the staff and the staff from RA and they gave a excellent performance and may next want to perform in in a kind of musical based on the play "Chicago." It couldn't have been easy to continue to present information for the recreation center in a room full of people who are mostly against the proposed center.

    I asked her after the meeting what would be her impression based on this meeting. I thought she had said that she would use the input from the district meetings to determine if they would go ahead with the plans for the proposed center. She said that was not her stated intention and that she had already heard what everyone who spoke had said.

    I said I would like for there to be a suggestion box in the new center and a democratic process to decide on the programs and policies at the center. Though I had not mentioned it to her she jumped to the current community center and said that there was a suggestion box near the ladies room or somewhere near there and smiled.

    It just seems to me that we just have no concept of what democracy is in Reston. I have a friend from out of town from little out of the way Louisa Virginia who visited recently. In Louisa Virginia it's possible to suggest a program to the recreation department and they will offer it in the catalogue. If there is enough interest they will offer it. In Louisa Virginia and most of the rest of the country the course attendance pays for the course. In Reston Virginia where the fifth tax district first pays for community center it is not possible for citizen input as to course offerings because the course offerings are subsidised by the tax district. In Louisa Virginia there is not tax district. The need to make RCC bigger dose not make sense to me.

    I had a speech prepared thinking that it would be like the RCC meetings but it wasn't.

    There were a lot of good comments criticising the financing and I wish they would post.

  4. I heard two groups of passionate debaters met up for a little FCPD-helicopter-assisted debate in South Reston tonight.

  5. I was at this meeting and I couldn’t agree more that the RA people where very patronizing. I even caught the ones in the back making signals to the speaker to move one when an audience member was pressing for clarity. On the other hand I thought the RCC people and Fairfax County were patient and professional. If small district 5 is all of Reston and RA is not. Why do we even need RA? To tell us what color we can paint our houses? Our clusters and condo associations can do that. Seems to me RCC can more competently handle our recreational needs. In addition, I want recreation that serves all of us year round. I’m talking a fitness center and gymnasium. In the past this was a low cost thing, now it’s a big deal in a fancy community that only supports and small number of people who enjoy swimming and tennis. I’m willing to bet the 40,000 or so people that do not have a pool pass this year feel the same.

  6. A lot of the people don't need a pool pass now. Many of the Reston condominiums and apartments have their own swimming pools.

    BTW, Simon has come out against locating a rec center against Brown's Chapel.

  7. If anyone thinks these public meetings will lead to stopping the rec center at Brown's Chapel, you only need to look at the Lawyers Road "diet" decision for reality.

    This is in the books. Your only chance to defeat is through a referendum denying RA the authority to give away YOUR property.

  8. ABSOLUTELY AGREE, this deal is done, the 4 meetings with RA are to placate the public... a referendum needs to stop this...

    "...If anyone thinks these public meetings will lead to stopping the rec center at Brown's Chapel, you only need to look at the Lawyers Road "diet" decision for reality.

    This is in the books. Your only chance to defeat is through a referendum denying RA the authority to give away YOUR property...."

  9. No, the deal is not done.

    They can't take our private property (and the common lands are our private property) without a referendum of the homeowners.

  10. I disagree -- RCC Leadership is quoted in press -- he is working with RA and is seeking a non-referendum approach. Do not discount this -- they are determined. And if there were a referendum, I guarantee you the required homeowner vote will not be there ...

    This is going down the "get it done now" path ..

  11. Who is "he?" Bill Bouie of RCC?

    They can't transfer our land without a vote of the homeowners.
    It doesn't matter how determined they are.

    Put the indoor rec center in the RCIG where it can be reached by Metro and let the whole county pay for it. The county has been milking Reston like a fat, placid cow long enough now.

  12. yes... Bill...

    And I really believe they are trying their darndest to avoid referendum...

  13. And on the RA side our good buddy Milton... he is claimed to have said he was having RA legal counsel look at ways to avoid referendum...


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