News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Indoor Tennis, Not Swimming, Inches Forward

simpsons-movie-dome-1.pngDuring its meeting last week, the RA Board voted to move forward with plans to build a massive plexiglass dome indoor tennis facility at Lake Newport. By April, the fancy structure will have been presented to both the fiscal committee and the DRB, so you know they're serious about putting this to a referendum of some sort by May, according to planning documents forwarded to covertly obtained by Restonian. Before all that happens, though, RA staff will "present the concept plan to the community and clusters located near Lake Newport Tennis Court complex" and then post the fancy plans on its "web site." We can't wait!

But here's the weird thing. The RA Parks & Planning Advisory Committee also proffered its recommendations about enclosing Lake Newport Pool to address the well-documented indoor swimming needs during the same meeting, but the RA Board took no action. Whazzup with that?

Two other recommendations were also made by the committee -- that the RA "ask that the provision of an indoor recreation center be included in the Comprehensive Plan, in consideration of development taking place at Wiehle or Town Center," and also that "the Fairfax County Park Authority, Reston Community Center and RA sit down and come up with a recreation plan for the next 20 years in terms of services to the community." Hopefully they won't meet in secret this time!

And that's not all the news for fans of sports and development controversy this month! This juicy nugget comes from the CEO report for February:

Fox Sports has contacted the Communications Department for video of Reston to be shown in a segment they will be airing featuring South Lakes High School alumni and professional basketball player, Grant Hill. The footage provided will include Lake Anne Village Center, various Reston Association neighborhoods and amenities of the community.
Sweet! We hope there's some "B-Roll" (as those of us in the industry call it) of Hill whazzitcalled, "dunking" a ball as he leaps over the statue of Dear Leader at Lake Anne, the end.


  1. RA board sure moves fast when it comes to big projects. I hope RA members wont be out of order if they ask the board how much these projects will cost in member dues.

    Last time the indoor project went to DRB, RA was looking for its members to spend $1.8 million. hmmm, will the indoor tennis cost RA members more than $1.8 million this time around?

    Can't wait to see the cost of swimmng a few laps in the new pool.

  2. The $1.8 million dolloar cost was for a semi-permanent structure and was much smaller in scale and scope than what is currently being proposed. The proposed facility would house 5 tennis courts, locker rooms, spectator seating, and a pro shop and the price tag is considerably higher. It is designed to hold USTA tournaments, not for the more modest needs of RA members. With less than 6% of RA members playing tennis do we really want to use our association dues to pay for this?

    This would be the first time RA has ever gone into debt to finance a project. It will require substantial increases in dues. Is this the best bang for the buck for the average RA homeowner?

    I admit that I don't play tennis and frankly I don't want the bulk of my association dues to go toward this project. I can think of a lot of other amenities that I would like to spend the money on -- just taking better care of our existing facilities and common paths and land would be a start.

  3. Estimated cost of indoor tennis facility is $3-5 million could be financed by 20-30 year bonds. RA has no debt which is highly unusual for an hoa of 65,000 people.

  4. More of smyers idiocy on (or not?) on display. The Reston residents/dues payers have said, over and over again that they DO NOT WANT THESE WHITE ELEPHANTS -- and yet the girl keeps on pushing her tax and spend agenda.

    VOTE NO on these wasteful, outrageous, closed-door nonsense projects!

    After all, not too many section 8 tenants play tennis --- they join gangs --- and the latest county budget cuts the cops out of the middle schools. Pure madness; all of it.

  5. We don't want or need debt --- $515 a year is more than enough for RA.

    Go to Herndon if you want to play indoor tennis.

  6. Reston Assocation does not have 65,000 people. RA membership is around 9,000 households. The fact that RA membership has no debt is not surprising. The members dont want debt. Columiba MD association has large amounts of debt and their members are paying several times more in annual dues without much to show for it in terms of services.

    Going into debt for a $3-5 million tennis facility will be up the the RA members.

  7. For those who think that $515. dues is not that much don't forget that most of us also have to pay cluster dues (ours is about $1500/year and we are in single family homes) and small district 5 tax ($500-$1000/year). That means we pay about $2500-$3000 year on fees besides mortgage PITI. If this amount goes up more it will really hurt resale home values, especially if many new residential units are built as part of Fairfax Counties push for higher density in Lake Anne, Town Center, RCIG, etc. Most of these new residents will not be part of RA and therefore not subject to the RA dues.

  8. Our cluster dues are less than $900. What are you getting for the extra $600? Hot and cold running maids?

    $500-1000 for small tax district #5? That tax rate is $0.047 per $100. Your assessment would have to be between $1.06 million and $2.12! If $2500-3000 is that big a problem for you, you bought way too much house!

    $3-5 million financed over 20-30 years divided by 9000 households and the apartments would be a very small number. That number will be even smaller if user fees are used to pay some of the capital costs as well as the operating costs. How much is paid by users & how much by assessments has yet to be determined but there will be a RA Finance Committee recommendation by April, long before this issue goes to referendum. Meetings of the RA Finance Committee are open to RA members and likely provide time for member comment.

    Most of the new residents will be in multi-family. Whether they are part of RA has yet to be decided.

    65,000 people live within the boundaries of RA. Check the US Census.

    The latest proposal was not "close door." The PPAC committee meetings have been open sessions with meetings times, dates and places posted on the RA website as have been the minutes of those meetings. Individual RA members have attended and offered comment. Next meeting is on 3/17 hope to see you then.

    It's legitimate to debate whether $3-5 million for a facility that serves 10-15% of RA members who are mostly well to do should be subsidized by the other 85-90% of RA members and if so by how much.

    Making demonstrably false attacks on the process or the proposal is a waste of time and a distraction.

  9. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)March 4, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    "Making demonstrably false attacks on the process or the proposal is a waste of time and a distraction."

    Welcome to Reston! ;-)

  10. 1:06 am - said.. "65,000 people live within the boundaries of RA. Check the US Census"

    65,000 people may live in Reston, but they do not belong to RA. Only a fraction of this number are members of the Reston Homeowners Assocation, otherwise known as RA.

    There are about 18,000 people who are members of RA. These people (RA members) will pay the capital and financing cost and operating losses. RA members will have to go into debt and only they will decide - not the 65,000 people who live in Reston.

  11. How much member money has RA spent on the "planning" stages of this...??

    These are all wonderful ideas, but have we really asked if the community wants this...??

    The argument appears to suggest we actually NEED this... and I find that hard to agree with.

    Let's back up and take a breath here... instead of RA leadership announcing project idea planning meetings on the Reston web-site... how about FIRST talking to your local constituents, via cluster presidents, local member meetings and building a consensus of what we REALLY NEED...

  12. 11:10. I don't know the history of how the RA deals with this stuff, but there are plenty in these comments that suggest they don't do much talking to folks before deciding to spend lots of time and money trying to determine whether something is possible. I think part of the problem might be that you DO need to spend SOME time and money to figure out whether something is practical at all. Perhaps the thought is that before bringing it up with constituents, they want to be sure that doing something would be feasible at all, otherwise you are potentially causing a groundswell of support for something that in the end isn't doable and will just dissapoint people? Ok, maybe it's STILL important to go to constituents unless you can do a very preliminary estimate of feasibility that is quick and doesn't cost much - if that's even possible.

    As far as getting people's buy in, might I suggest something to RA board members (current and/or potential) - set up something whereby all RA members can "vote" in "referenda" about these and other issues. You can advertize them via email and other ways, include references, and let people post comments in a discussion forum or blog. I'd suggest all of this be without anonymity, so we don't get trolls, or if we do, we know who they really are! Then get a web tool that allows for voting. Whether the voting itself should show who voted for what I don't know, but I'm all in favor of people's votes being out in the open. Of course we shouldn't do this for all decisions, but for anything that requires a certain threshold of money, or otherwise effects lots of people visa vis the bylaws, etc. Will it be expensive to set up? I don't think so if you shop around rather than just handing the contract to someone without competing it, but whatever the cost, if it in the end saves Restonians money by letting them vote down silly schemes before they start, well, it'll pay for itself fairly quickly!

  13. Reston’s membership is comprised of 21,346 residential units.

    Straight from their website...which means there very well could be 65,000 people living within RA.

  14. The problem is that we have the RSTA, funded by our dues, with highly paid staff members who constantly lobby the board for indoor tennis. They are at almost every board meeting. Yet less than 6% of members actually play tennis and less than that would use an indoor tennis facility. The rest of us get the honor of paying for it, and we're not talking about small-change. This would be the single biggest investment our association has ever made and the association would go into debt for the first time ever. It's a clear case of the board listening to the squeaky wheel.

  15. Anon 5:41 has the process accurately described though the numbers for tennis are closer 15% according to the 2005 survey posted on the RA website.

    Anon 11:58 all of this planning and study is preparatory to a referendum which would only happen after the financing is figured out and described in the referendum.

    Anon 11:10 the clusters adjacent to Browns Chapel have been briefed on the tennis proposal before the presentation to the RA Board. The costs for the plans for the tennis facility since last July are less than $20k. These are conceptual designs not detailed construction drawings.

  16. Actually, 5:41 If the board caves again on this, it's due to the squeaky, lying wheels of SBC. They inflate the dollars, imply the board can do whatever it wants without member input, and why shouldn't the association invest in what many in the community expect when they come here, recreation facilities. We don't have lit ballfields at Brown's Chapel because of squeaky wheels, no indoor tennis, no skatepark. Reston wasn't built on the philosophy of no.
    Let the process work. We have referendums for people to say yes or no. We have documents that protect our open and recreation spaces. We don't need any more legal actions,like a trust. Our assets are already protected. Read the documents.


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