Oh boy! We got our referendum for the proposed awesome new $15 million Reston Association headquarters in the mail yesterday, but before we could grab a #2 pencil and vote "YES," we learned that some naysayers are less than thrilled about the whole thing. After raising a few nitpicky questions, like why they need so much space to hand out pool passes and where will this giant gilded floating palace be located, those buzzkills at the Reston Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners (ARCH) now say they "believe that, as of the date of Issues Bulletin 2009-2, the Reston Association (RA) Board has not made the case for the new headquarters referendum." Ouch!
ARCH's site has a bunch of earnest-looking Word documents and spreadsheets and whatnot, which we at Restonian on Your Side (tm) decided to peruse so you don't have to. Among their key questions:
The RA Board maintains that the 2005 space assumptions do not meet the RA’s increased present and future needs, but it has been unable to provide the members with a space analysis because the Board believes that analysis is “confidential.” In addition, the incremental cost to members of buying (or leasing) compared to what they now spend for headquarters space has not been made clear.A whole series of community meetings will be held to discuss the referendum, which we're sure will be tons of fun. We're sympathetic to the RA's plight -- after all, $5 million just doesn't go as far as it used to. Frankly, our main concern is that the new gilded fortress not be surrounded by red mulch or white stone, the end.
We accept that buying under the right circumstances could be a worthwhile alternative to leasing and that the current office space may well need to be upgraded and perhaps increased (particularly to add additional conference and meeting space). But the RA Board has not made the case on:
• What will be the incremental cost to members in annual assessment increases of buying (exclusive of any building value or equity) or leasing 35,000 sq. ft. versus what members pay now for the existing space?
• Why 35,000 sq. ft. (a space analysis, which the RA Board says is “confidential,” has not been provided to members)?
• Why $15 million (and what are the likely sources of funding and the impact on the RA’s financial (cash) position)?
• Why is the Board not willing to require that any purchase be limited to a site in Reston?