News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What, You're Still Not Tired of the RA Board Elections?

That's good because there's yet another Q&A forum with candidates tonight at 7pm at the Nature House, 11450 Glade Drive. Be there with your snow shovels.

In the meantime, you can read two articles the Connection "news-paper" wrote about the ARCH candidates forum and a follow-up interview with the three candidates that did not attend. Or, two letters to the editor in the Fairfax Times "news-paper" that neatly cancel each other out!

The Times also did a story about how contentious this election has been, at least by Reston standards. But it largely glossed over how the whole issue of development looms over this election. Consider this paragraph in the letter from Amy Justice of Save Brown's Chapel, who urges residents to look at Dear Leader's current vision of Reston:

Simon's vision for Reston is firmly focused on increasing density. In a recent letter to the editor, "Advice to Density Deniers," Simon states, "It is bad manners, to say the least, for a resident to lobby to prevent development that a developer has 'by right' to develop." Simon sees the future of Reston from a developer's perspective, having been one for more years than many of us have been alive, while homeowners see it from a resident's perspective. What Simon and the other developers need to understand is that residents live with the results, while developers move on.
We personally believe that some degree of redevelopment is necessary and desirable -- to us, the question is what it winds up looking like (we don't need any more off-the-shelf architectural dreck lining the Toll Road, or ugly above-ground parking garages becoming the signature landmark of the Reston skyline) and how it functions within the context of the existing infrastructure. But it's good to see that people are realizing how high the stakes are in this election.

107 comments:

  1. The only thing worse for a candidate for RA board than being endorsed by Smeyers is to be endorsed by Bouie & Keefe, the principal movers behind last year's fiasco with the "Wal-Mart" rec center at Brown's Chapel. These two serve on both the RCC board and RA's PPAC committee. They are their own political cabal. No one else is allowed to do grass roots organizing, especially if it is in opposition to the two Bills grandiose designs. Only the two Bills are allowed to have any ideas or perspectives. If you offer any comment that is other than worshipful gratitude for their beneficent genius, you will be attacked, ridiculed and dismissed.

    Bouie is also Hudgins' Park Authority representative. A more arrogant, manipulative and deceptive person you could rarely find. Bouie acts like it's his plan to succeed Hudgins or preferably become emperor.

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  2. So Amy moved to Reston but doesn't like its founder's vision. Did she bother to investigate the Reston's history, master plan and vision before making her real estate wager on her house in Reston?

    Is her opinion any thing more than cliche NIMBYism? "I got mine, everyone else can go to hell."

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  3. Who knows what Ms. Justice did or didn't do, and it's none of your damn business in any case, but it's VERY clear that NO ONE but Leila and Smyers wanted a $100 million rec center where a beautiful, peaceful park is now located.

    Let Leila clean up her own center and let Robin be Silver-line metrorailed out of town in a few weeks and tarred and feathered on her way out.

    First thing that needs to go is her mug on the million-dollar website!
    She better be ready to face the wrath of her constituents at the RA annual meeting. It is not going to be a pleasant send off for her.

    Smyers has finally shut her big mouth -- for now -- but silence is never golden from her.

    What a hideous regime she has attempted to lead and what an abomination of a legacy she leaves.

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  4. 12:21 -- Wow. You're not angry are you. Maybe you should move to the country and buy a few acres so no one can encroach on your personal green space. Then you can be ugly and hateful by yourself. I'm not defending the whole indoor rec thing, yeah it was a bad idea, or Leila or Robin, but your vitriol over it (months after it ended) is rather intense and unattractive.

    I hope you get tarred and feathered for your volunteer work, or have to be publicly shamed and harassed for weeks - or months - when you make a mistake. Let Robin go. Just let her leave in peace. She has heard you and everyone else who posts ugly things on here about her already. She knows. So just give it a rest.

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  5. Anon 12:41

    Any chance we can persuade the two Bills and Leila to go with Robyn?

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  6. Anon 12:21 Amy made it our business when she attacks the vision and idea of Reston and attacks Robert Simon who, btw, hasn't been a developer since he was forced out by Gulf 30+ years ago.

    Her letter to the editor displays ignorance of the unique character and history of Reston.

    If she didn't like the destiny which that vision and history foretell, why did she move here?

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  7. Robin is getting what she deserves! Incompetence at her best! Would really hope Robin, Leila, the two bills and Chew get the hell out.

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  8. Anon 1:27 How would you feel if I just spend your money, get you in debt and then, on top of that, have your entire neighbors rip off the benefits? Fair?

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  9. Anon 1:27 Why would sweet little Robin now cash out and move? How easy it is to walk out the door and leave us with a mess. Why critize Amy? At least she *still* lives here! That's courage and guts. My hat's off to Amy.

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  10. BiCO,

    Agreed -- Amy, calm down won't you... we can read right through your postings... and same with you Richard -- god -- please stop this nonsense.

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  11. This is rediculous...

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  12. @ anon 12:41 -- get a life and stop minding my business as well as Symers and everyone else.

    Symers has squandered millions of dollars of OUR money (and presumably yours if you live in Reston). What do we have for it? A highly overpaid, incompetent, self-titled Reston Association "CEO"; a worthless million-dollar website; dark, dangerous, filthy pathways; a dysfunctional RELAC "air-conditioning" system; study after study after study of worthless nonsense, a narrowed, yet even more dangerous, Laywers Road; the ugliest piece of architecture yet coming to Reston -- the metro station; corrupt elections; festering lakes, facilities and more.

    If I were Smyers, I would jump into one of those polluted lakes just so she can see, taste, smell and feel the cesspool of failure she is leaving us all with -- to endure for decades to come.

    If Smyers so shamed, then she should resign and leave now. No need for her to continue with her arrogance, hubris and cash rape of Reston dues payers. She's had years to shape up and and has had plenty of requests for help and assistance over the same years, but now the shoe is on the other foot and the price is being paid.

    Shame on Robin Symers whether she (and you) like it or not.

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  13. @anon 1:27 -- you want to see Simon's vision?

    Look at Lake Anne Plaza -- if that's not the poster image of failed development (and now filled with section 8 apartments) I know not what is. Simon owns half of the plaza and the other half is empty.

    Now THAT's just what we want for all of Reston, is it? Take your dated eyesore of socialism and brutalism with four-figure condo fees, and get the hell out of town with it!

    What was a grand experiment in the 1960s is now a failure -- tear it down and start over -- enough with "charettes" studies and BS about "historic" preservation.

    Everyone, including Symers, has had many, many opportunities to deal with the disaster called Lake Anne Plaza. What did Smyers do? Rather than help out the heart and soul of so-called "historic" Reston? She barfed in the face of any sense of what the dues-payers wanted and took a long-term lease in an ugly building that is nearly impossible to get to or enter.

    And now that's shes jumping ship she tries to stuff the board wither her cronies? That's the most pathetic and disgusting behavior yet.

    Smyers should resign in shame, leave, and leave now. She can take her not-so-boy wonder Matthews with her and Leila too.

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  14. Anon 1:31

    RA has no debt. What are you talking about?

    Was the $100,000 a stupid expenditure when there had been no disclosure to, never mind assent by, the membership? Bet your life and it cost each RA homeowner the grand total of, wait for it, $4.00.

    Yup, it was a major league screw up by the two Bills, Leila and Robyn and I'm glad Robyn's leaving.

    Anon 2:10 do I want Simon's vision of a community where people of all ethnicities and socio-economic starta can live together. Bet your ass, and you don't?

    Is the new office space too big? Yup. It's easy to get to from Sunrise. What's the problem that you've experienced?

    Is Lake Anne a failed experiment? yup. Failures happen when you're trying to invent something that never existed before. So redevelop as they did Hunters Woods, just do it better. Is Lake Anne easy to fix? If it was they'd have done it already.

    None of Amy's contributions to date demonstrate an understanding and appreciation that Reston is unique and different from the rest of suburbia. Maybe if that appreciation were revealed, her comments wouldn't come across as classic, tiresome, "I got mine jack" NIMBYism. Same for her candidates Greenburg and Knueval.

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  15. Anon 2:42

    That's how it starts... Today is $4, tomorrow a $1,000. How ignorant and pathetic you can be. Shows how good you're managing your money or how good of a steward you can be.

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  16. I live in Reston because it is Reston. Many of the things I enjoy about being here are because of Simon's vision. I applaud and thank him for that. It was and still is in many respects unique. I love Reston as it is.

    It was news to me that Reston today was not Simon's complete vision. I learned this from earlier posts in January in this blog. I looked into the history. Financial difficulties prevented Bob Simon from seeing his vision through. He intended a higher population density. Apparently Bob is still keen to complete this vision.

    I appreciate and thank Bob Simon for what we have in Reston today. As an entirely personal opinion, and I know that many here will criticize it, I reject his vision of density.

    In reading the history I learned that Bob Simon grew up in New York. His family owned many properties on 57th street and that experience defined community for him - jobs, shopping, entertainment and recreation was all close by. I can see how this translated into the vision for Reston. But we have to be careful how far you take it. I choose not to live in Manhattan.

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  17. Since when is it not OK to say "While I greatly admire Mr. Simon, I respectfully disagree with him about his vision for Reston's future".

    That is a quote from the letter in the press that started this. Beyond that it is mostly Bob Simon's words quoted as he stated them. Saying what someone said and respectfully disagreeing is not 'thrashing' them.

    That's more than can be said for the comments on both sides of this conversation. Respectful is what is needed. Can we disagree but do so in a respectful way.

    I like BICO's suggestion - well maybe short of the orgy part.

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  18. Anon 2:10 is the same unhinged crazy troll that has been using every thread to attack Smyers, Lake Anne, and well everything.

    Lake Anne does not need to be torn down. Indeed it would be a real shame because I think the place is great. Any Hunters-woodsing of Lake Anne would be a crime.

    I will agree with the crazy troll that it is a shame RA did not move its headquarters there The Millennium bank building now for rent is more than ample for the RA HQ.

    The lakes are not polluted any more than would reasonably be expected. They look nice, are stocked full of fish, attract wildlife and are fun to boat on. When I was a kid I used to swim in the lakes all the time.

    RELAC has nothing to do with RA (except that if you live on the system you've signed a covenant with RA to use the system) It is run by Aqua VA a water utility.

    I wish crazy Troll 2:10 would at least assume some sort of "identity"
    So all of his crazy trollish comments could be attributed correctly to the same crazy troll. Because right now it seems like there might be 100 crazy trolls.

    If Crazy Troll hates lake Anne so much, I wonder what is the crazy troll's favorite place in Reston?

    RTC? Macaroni Grill?

    Crazy Troll, please tell us.

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  19. Anon 2:42 says – “ That's how it starts... Today is $4, tomorrow a $1,000.”

    Today it is $515 just for RA dues. This does not include the RCC recreation tax, small tax district 5 of $275 to $500; plus those who live in clusters - $1,200 or higher. Many RA members are paying $2,000 per year for their local fees/upkeep.

    With bus service stopping and school cut backs, why would our County Supervisor be interested in spending large amounts of money on huge facilities. The RA board needs to be careful here regarding their alliance. It is obvious that officials of RCC and RA are pushing hard and want Danaher, Robinson and Collins to be elected to the RA board. Why would RCC be so interested in hand picking the RA board?

    How about the Supervisor taking some of the small tax district surplus money and get the busses rolling again? Instead of paying $4 for the recreation consultant maybe RCC could hire a couple of bus drivers and get our mass transit going.

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  20. Amen Anon 6:11!

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  21. I went to Lake Anne recently and there's a lot to be desired. Tavern on the Lake: gone, Millennium Bank: gone, Body by Geoff:gone. It's like a ghost town. Why wouldn't RA picked to move there, there Reston really started, it's beyond reason.

    The RA's alliance with Hudgings and Gordon, both government entities (hint! hint!) is just incomprehensible. RA being used as a proxy for the county to do whatever they want at the expense of Restonians! Yes, because if the recreation center would have been built, and later down the road was a failure, guess who would have paid? Not Fairfax County residents as a whole, just Reston!

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  22. Someone just alerted me to this post. I thought I should add a few comments. First, I would like to explain a little about my background. I grew up in South Reston and my mother still lives there. I chose to move away after I graduated from college because I wanted to live in a more urban environment. I lived in Old Town Alexandria and I enjoyed many things about the experience. Raising a family in such an environment proved to be a challenge. The traffic was unbearable, the crime rate was high, the school system ranked among the lowest in Virginia, and home prices were prohibitively expensive with very little space (both inside and out) for the money. Therefore, I chose to move back to Reston to raise my family.

    We have been extremely happy here. We love our North Point community so much that when we needed more space we limited our home search to within walking distance of our current home.

    I have lived in Reston a total of 25 years (non-contiguous). I have seen tremendous changes in that time and most of them have been for the better. I am not against redevelopment, but I do not want to see Reston lose its unique character. Part of that character in my mind is open green space, neighborhood clusters, and yes most of the time even the fact that we have a DRB.

    I would like to see redevelopment retain the existing character of our neighborhoods. I want to see Lake Anne revitalized, but not turned into another Town Center. I would like to see the mid-cenury architecture preserved. I would hate to see Reston become like so many redeveloped areas in Fairfax County with every inch of space developed and mc-mansions on tiny lots.

    I am not against metro coming to Reston. I believe it is naive to think that our existing roads can handle the additional traffic generated by metro and RCIG. I would like to see the county use some of the increased tax revenue that they will get from RCIG to address infrastructure improvements and indoor recreation in Reston.

    Neither myself nor my group SBC is in any way affiliated with a political party. We are neighbors throughout Reston who come together and have coffee and talk about what is going on in the community. We are democrats, republicans and people like myself who have no party allegiance, and we don't believe that party politics has any place in a homeowners association.

    I did not intend and nor in my opinion did I express any disrespect for Mr Simon in my letter. I hope that Reston is still the kind of community where people can respectfully disagree with each other.

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  23. Amy you should consider running for the RA board....

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  24. Can't wait to see Restonian's take on the Candidates Forum... wait let me do it . . .

    Peter Greenburg - Wow, wears a Tag Heuer too, should I move to North Point just to vote for him? Fiscal responsibility, Every $1 is sacred.

    Dr . . . Regin Vote for me because I have a beautiful daughter . .. actually likes to analyse things a lot but what has she actually done lately? Communication, Communication, Communication

    Mike Collins - Pretty boy. . . is he real? let's put his photo in all our ads . . Higher density in existing neighborhoods is inevidable. Doesn't know Reston. More communication by having big, bold notices at town centers so that everyone has at least seen plan before it is discussed. Good point. Why is it when I really need info about what is going on in Reston, I turn to the Restonian and not the RA for even just pictures?

    Keven Danaher - Build the Tennis, GDI, I'm tired of hearing about it for 20 years . . . higher density? Resistance is futile.

    Ken Knueven - Fiscal responsibility all the way. Redevelopment at Lake Anne might be good, Tall Oaks needs attention, leaving out that he believes that redeveloping existing neighborhoods is out, way out - Give the DRB more authority in this matter.

    Rod Koozmin - No indoor tennis unless everyone wants it , actually seemed sane . .. good idea of polling RA members online for two way communication!

    Joe Leighton - Speaking not his best strong point but got his point across . . . accountant, more communication, etc.

    Patrick Shipp - Mr. Personality and Iraq war vet . . . plan, plan, plan otherwise we'll have to scoop our guts up with spoons. Wait , He supports mixed use development at the stations.

    David Robinson - politician wannabe - can't remember anything he said beyond that.

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  25. Here's Guy's letter which II tried to get read at the meeting.




    March 18, 2010

    Board of Directors
    Reston Association
    1930 Isaac Newton Square
    Reston, VA 20190

    Dear Reston Association Board Members:

    It has become apparent to me that the current election for board seats has been compromised not only by statements from sitting board members meant to demean some of the candidates, but also by technical irregularities in the voting process itself.

    President Robin Smyers circulated an email alleging that the Save Brown’s Chapel coalition has hidden and ulterior motives and their intention is to harm Reston. Such statements by the President of the Board of Directors has the potential to disrupt the election process by introducing fear, suspicion and mistrust. Robin Smyers should apologize to the candidates from the SBC slate and also to the community.

    Richard Chew has written an email in which he states that only the younger candidates have the ability to look to the future. He states that the older candidates are stuck in the past and have no vision. Since I am the oldest candidate running in this election, I have to take exception with his statements. The vision I first conceived in 1964 using air rights to connect the north and south sections of Reston is a vision for the future. As recently as last week, I was working on drawings to create pedestrian walkways across the Toll Road at Herndon-Monroe Station. My age has nothing to do with my ability to look into the future and see possibilities. Mr. Chew’s statements show a profound prejudice against the older candidates and he has to be called on this. Mr. Chew needs to apologize to me, to Joe Leighton, and to the community.

    Both Mr. Chew and Ms. Smyers used email distribution lists they accumulated during their tenure on the Board of Directors. Using emails addresses collected as part of their work on the board to discredit certain candidates is inappropriate.

    A number of people have spoken out against the statements by Ms. Smyers and Mr. Chew that denigrate certain of the candidates. Kathleen Driscoll-McKee has suggested passing Board Conduct Standards to keep sitting board members from endorsing or campaigning for board candidates. Dave Edwards of the Elections Committee has also asked for such standards. He states that the behavior he has seen in this election should not be tolerated. Gerald Volloy has stated that incalculable harm has been done to the candidates running in this election because of the hostile emails circulated by Ms. Smyers and Mr. Chew. In the end it is the community that suffers. What volunteers will come forward in the future when they know they may be assailed by board members unwilling to let the democratic process work as it was intended?

    In addition, it has come to my attention that there are irregularities with the way the ballots have been distributed this election. Cate Fulkerson has stated that some of the codes were incorrect and extra ballots were sent out to some condominium owner/occupants. How many of these extra ballots were sent out? Ms. Fulkerson says that it will be sorted out by the next election. I don’t think that is reasonable. We need an investigation of the ballot process now.

    Because of my concerns, I am asking that the election be halted. I am asking that an investigation of the balloting process be undertaken and the election process begun over from scratch.

    Sincerely,


    Guy L. Rando
    Urban Designer and Landscape Architect

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  26. For as long as I can remember we have had candidates proclaiming a need to get citizens involved and the need for communication. Yet nothing concrete in this regard is ever really done.

    I have specific recommendations to establish lines of two way communication in Reston. I think Reston will be a better place for it.

    If you send me to the board you will send the Reston Association a message that you want two way communication not just candidates talking about communication and that YOU want to be a true community.
    I’m for cutting the waist, two way communication, allowing more citizen volunteering, lowering the assessment and more citizen control.
    Let us all work together to fulfill the vision of Robert E. Simon to make this the best place on the planet to live, work, and play.

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  27. So is that why Guy Rando didn't attend another Candidate's Forum? Without any explanation, I have to assume that he isn't really running.

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  28. I did receive emails from Robin endorsing candidates. . . not sure if it had been done in the past or not. I also found out tonight that one of the board asked Mike Collins to run . . not really sure if that should be a good deal . .. Rod you had some good points, please keep making them.

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  29. Anon 4:37 @ $4 per year, it would take 250 years to get to $1,000. Get serious.

    Anon 6:11 for you to be paying $275 to STD #5, your house would have to be assessed at over $600,000. To pay $500 to STD #5, your house would have to be assessed for $1.1 million. The SED #5 tax rate is $0.047 per $100 of assessed value. If you own a house worth either figure and yet can't pay the STD tax, you bought too much house and we bear you no pity.

    The best argument to disband STD #5 is not the pittance we pay but the inequity that the users of Oakmarr and South Run Rec Centers pay no such tax. Their County owned Rec Center is funded by Restonians through our real estate tax paid into the general fund and not by a special piggy back r/e tax as we pay in Reston. This not fair and it has to end.

    Someone will no doubt write a post pointing to the discounts we get. Stuff and nonsense. The total of the discounts my family has received over the last 25 years do not equal 1 year's STD tax. It is wrong. It needs to end. Now.

    A second objection to STD #5 is that I'm not interested in giving Leila and the 2 Bills a slush fund to pay for more garbage consultants studies. This is how Robert Moses funded his multiple boondoogles. An unelected, unaccountable, faceless, anonymous bureaucrat funded by the nickels paid at the tollbooths on the Triborough Bridge. We don't need the second coming of Robert Moses in Reston.

    Dissolve STD #5 now!

    Not because it too expensive but because its unfair, faceless and fundamentally unaccountable.

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  30. Balance says: Nice summary, Anon 10:04. Thanks.

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  31. Of all I liked Leighton, Greenberg, Knueven and Shipp (who was OK). Rod was OK but it doesn't sound he's to that level (no offense Rod). The rest can be dumped to the garbage dumpster.

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  32. It was lovely to see Robin Smyers and Leila Gordon almost holding hands at the forum.

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  33. Well said Amy... welcome to the board...

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  34. Anon 4:37 the population density of Manhattan during the day is 208,000 people per square mile. At night it falls to only 66,000.

    Today, Reston is less than 1/10 as dense @ 6,000 per square mile at night. There's no comparison.

    If the 13 per acre standard from the Reston Master Plan were followed for the whole of Reston (which won't ever happen), Reston's density wouldn't reach 8,500 per square mile. Which would be less than DC and about the same as Alexandria.

    So, was the comparison of Reston to Manhattan hyperbole or delusion?

    Or just more exclusionary NIMBYism?

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  35. Balance says: Anon 10:33, I feel your pain. But back up a second. STD #5 is a self-inflicted wound. Blame the County for owning it, if you will, but it was the then-voters of Reston who wanted a community center so much they agreed by special referendum to subject themselves (and, therefore, us) to additional tax to pay for it. They agreed to not only build it, but to pay for its operation forever after.

    A look at the map tells me that rec centers are not exactly dotting the landscape. We might wish that one had been built at Baron Cameron or Lake Fairfax, but I can hear the wave of opposition to such "commercialized" use of the open space so many folks value (seemingly more than anything else.)

    I know this post won't turn the hearts of those who poison every discussion with their ever-negative slant on practically everything, especially if it cost them a dime and they don't personally use it. But maybe an occasional dose of balance will suggest that not all readers here are on the fringe. (That is NOT a reference to Anon 10:33.)

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  36. Good forum... one or two candidates were clueless, several had great ideas, very responsive. A productive night.

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  37. This is the "dream team" being promoted by RA and RCC officials.

    March 18, 2010 10:04 PM - You wrote the following comments about today’s RA Board candidate forum:

    “ - David Robinson - politician wannabe - can't remember anything he said beyond that."

    "- Keven Danaher - Build the Tennis, GDI, I'm tired of hearing about it for 20 years . . . higher density? Resistance is futile"

    "- Mike Collins - Pretty boy. . . is he real? let's put his photo in all our ads . . Higher density in existing neighborhoods is inevidable. Doesn't know Reston. More communication by having big, bold notices at town centers so that everyone has at least seen plan before it is discussed. Good point. Why is it when I really need info about what is going on in Reston, I turn to the Restonian and not the RA for even just pictures?”

    The Dream Team backed by RA and RCC officials

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  38. So Amy

    You grew up here and understood Simon's vision for Reston. You left and yet chose to move back here and now want to override Simon's vision for a city comparable to Arlington and Alexandria. A vision that's been in place since 1963.

    The rest of us knew what was intended and literally bought into that Plan.

    Now you have buyer's remorse and want the rest of us to reject a plan that's about to be finally and fully implemented. You knew what you were getting when you moved back here. Land use plans don't get changed 40 years in. To many people have invested too many millions in reliance on that plan.

    If you've now decided that it's too dense for you now, there's always Loudoun.

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  39. Anon 11:21 Grow a pair and put your name if you're going to attack Amy.

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  40. Simon's vision is over 50 years old; he still has in his heart to finish what he started -- good man. Unfortunately, today's politics and the county itself, have changed dramatically. In a way both Amy and Simon are right -- coming at it from two different perspectives. They should meet and discuss.

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  41. Anon 10:58 restonians voted to be taxed extra because County officials refused to build the rec center from general funds. Now wopsy daisy, county officials say its ok to build OakMar and South Run with general funds.

    In the meantime, the RCC bonds have been paid off. The renovation has been paid for & still we pay the extra $0.045.

    It's inequitable and needs to end.

    It's one example of the County treating Reston unfairly and yet another reason for Reston to succeed from the County by attaining a city charter from the General Assembly.

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  42. Anon 11:28

    The only thing that's changed since 1963 is that the Plan has been implemented. There is no intervening changed circumstances that justifies invalidating that Plan.

    NIMBYism doesn't count.

    Anon 11:26 make me. :-b

    Amy chose to enter the public forum. She can handle being challenged and does need or want your anonymously lame attempts to assist.

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  43. Anon 11:43
    Ah, you sound and are arrogant as chewbaca and princess robin.

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  44. 10:58

    It is not the fringe that opposed the ill conceived and wasteful project that was killed last year.

    It IS the tennis playing fringe that wanted it so badly.

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  45. Did anybody else catch the "dog whistle" code words from Greenburg and Knuevel tonight about the indoor tennis facility?

    They're for the facility BUT ONLY IF ITS PAID FOR IN CASH.

    Fellas, that would mean a $210 increase in the annual assessment next year or $725!

    Since no would support that, Peter and Kevin are telling their friends, in code, that they really oppose the indoor tennis courts.

    Peter opposes borrowing for capital facilities!? He owns one hotel and is building another. Wanna bet he didn't pay cash for one and isn't paying cash to build the other one brick at a time. Of course, he borrowed the money.

    So, Peter, if its ok for you to borrow money to buy and build hotels, why can the members of RA agree, by referendum, to borrow money to build a facility that will last for decades, just like your hotels?

    Kevin, "now is a bad time for RA to borrow money" really? Your corporate finance professor called. They're revoking your bachelors degree.

    RA has no debt. It's balance sheet is flawless. The Reston housing market is stable. Interest rates are practically zero. It's the perfect time to borrow. Were you sleeping through that class?

    A freshman municipal finance course would flunk you if you denied that it is most equitable course to finance capital facilities through bonding/borrowing. It spreads the burden of the cost of the facility over its life time so that the folks who use it at the end of its life cycle aren't cost-shifting to/free loading on the folks who paid for it at the beginning of its life cycle.

    kevin, please tell us you haven't forgotten this basic tenant of corporate/municipal finance from your college business classes. Otherwise, we're left to conclude this "pay-go" rhetoric is just cynical dog whistle code words to your supporters that you really oppose the indoor tennis.

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  46. Most of the canidates last night were were condeming the blogs meaning the Restonian. The Restonian has been our only freeedom in telling the truth about this election.

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  47. Some canididates hated referendums which they said should cost $40,000 but with volunteers they could cost almost nothing.

    I believe government should start at the bottom. Most of them want to be at the top and instead of serve tell everyone what to do. That's why they are running.

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  48. We live in a community where the CEO of the organization (who is paid by the every homeowner) endorses candidates of his choosing and the board dose absolutely nothing about it!!!

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  49. Balance says: Many, if not most, proponents of indoor tennis posit that it would be self-supporting through user fees. I am skeptical, but let's assume that such fees would pay the cost of construction (including debt service)and operation. Further assume that a community that has a large number of tennis devotees (this is fact, not part of the assumption) encourages such cost-me-nothing amenities to residents.

    What are the objections?
    "It's an eyesore."
    "It deprives us of several fresh-air tennis courts during good weather."
    "I don't play tennis and I oppose anything that has to do with the sport."
    "It enhances the overall value of the community and that means my property value goes up, thus higher real estate tax."

    That's my quick list. What is yours?

    Better yet, what is the list from the candidates?

    Look, there is no question that many people would like to have better recreation facilities in Reston. Let them make their case. A concept plan has been developed, a site identified. Next comes the cost proposal followed by a means of financing it.

    Instead of developing and wildly posting entrenched positions on this subject, let's demand that the RA board take all the time they need to get those next steps right. Then we will have a basis to debate our positions.

    If you disagree, say so, but please be clear as to why. "It will cost too much" is not acceptable unless you have the facts to back up the assertion that it cannot be self-sustaining AND you have some evidence that your definition of "too much" would be generally accepted by the remainder of our 60,000 residents.

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  50. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)March 19, 2010 at 6:48 AM

    Amy, welcome to our humble little "filthy web log!" :-)

    What I've noticed in Reston is a very strong polar dichotomy of sorts in ideology in regards to our future. There's people who want Reston to become "Manhattanized" (bad idea), and then there's also people who want Reston to stay EXACTLY as it is (bad idea). Why not try to compromise and meet in the middle, as I propose? I believe we can STRONGLY increase our density in the Reston Town Center area, and we SHOULD do so in anticipation of Metrorail's arrival. There's plenty of land that's currently being underutilized that is ripe for dense redevelopment. The small parking garage along Fountain Drive, roughly across from Potbelly, could be demolished and replaced by an underground parking garage with a mixed-use development overhead. Directly across the street that massive surface parking lot roughly across the street from Chipotle could likewise have an underground parking garage with a mixed-use development overhead. The entire Spectrum Center complex---along both sides of Bowman Towne Drive---could be razed and replaced by mixed-use projects with underground parking (all existing tenants could relocate back into these new projects, similar to how big-boxes blend in quite well in such a project in Columbia Heights in the District). The orientation of buildings currently along Sunset Hills Drive near the toll road leaves a lot to be desired, and there is a lot of wasted land interspersed there (including a lot of surface parking) that could be redeveloped into transit-oriented development right near the new Metrorail station.

    By creating a dense "Manhattan"-like core with Reston Town Center, we will supply the likely increased demand for housing/retail/office space in Reston that will accompany Metrorail, helping to preserve most, if not all, of Reston's EXISTING neighborhoods, which is a good thing in my book. I am by no means an advocate of tearing down our current communities to make way for new high-rises, and if we work to make Reston Town Center even bigger and better, then we can accommodate a population influx while ALSO preserving a good quality-of-life for people in other parts of the community. If it works in Arlington---a very dense transit-oriented corridor surrounded by pristine relatively low-density family-oriented neighborhoods---then why can't it work in Reston. You folks in Reston are far too AFRAID of Arlington to even consider that it isn't ALL bad! Arlington has four times the population of Reston and had 2 murders in 2009. Reston had 1 murder in 2009 (thereby actually giving Arlington the lower homicide rate). I'm committed to STAYING in Reston and working to make our community all it truly can be. Those who think Reston is "perfect" currently truly do love mediocrity, apparently. Those who don't want the train, don't want to increase density in Reston Town Center to preserve existing neighborhoods, don't want sidewalks, fear diversity or change, etc. should move to a vinyl-lined cul-de-sac in Loudoun County with the other snooty NIMBY poseurs.

    As a 23-year-old people might think I'm too young or too stupid to truly deserve to have any say in Reston's future, but in a few years I'd love to potentially make a bid for RA myself, after having proven myself worthy through several years of volunteering in the community and showcasing my dedication to wanting to make Reston a better place. While I'm not ageist, the generational gap between Mr. Rando, Mr. Koozmin, and most of the other Baby Boomer (or older) candidates and those of us fresh out of college is overwhelming. Isn't it time Reston's YOUTH had a voice for a change?

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  51. Balance says: Rod, either back up that claim or stop slandering a good man. So far, all I have heard from you is reference to the email that the CEO forwarded. He did not author the content, he merely shared it. I agree with you that the person who asked him to get the word out about the Big Dig was using it to advance the candidacy of those three. Shame on that person. Milton's error was in not picking up on that trickery as he used the power of the Internet to build support for an important volunteer effort.

    But you make a leap in saying that forwarding the email equals an endorsement. If you have any other facts to back up your claim, lay them out. Otherwise, zip it up. Wait, don't zip until you just as publicly say, "Milton, I was so upset by the someone's underhanded act that I lashed out at you, and I now see that and I apologize."

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  52. Simon was actually right about one thing a long time ago -- Lake Anne. The original plan called for several high rises on the scale of Heron House surrounding the Plaza -- a plan which never came to fruition. Without that level of density, the businesses in the Plaza were almost certainly doomed to struggle to attract business, even before the Town Center came along.

    Reston should be a place where high and low density co-exist in sensible ways. That's been the plan from the inception.

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  53. Milton is not the best CEO out there. With an $180k+ he should know better.

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  54. Debt is a wonderful thing... look what it's doing for Columbia MD. They have over $38M in long term debt and growing...got their fitness center.

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  55. Didn't Milton come from Columbia MD? Did he run that place??

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  56. Anon 8:22 Debt is a wonderful thing. It's also called leverage. You can have too much of a good thing.

    Without debt, you couldn't own in you house.

    There are metrics to tell us how much debt is healthy and when its too much. Not knowing all the facts about Columbia, I can't say whether $38 million is too much.

    I do know that the indoor tennis currently proposed will cost something like $3-5 million. With 24,000 assessment paying dwelling units, the debt service on that figure would be very slight. After we figure out how much should be paid by user fees and how much from assessment, the finance committee will lay out the details over the next month or so.

    Joe was wrong about one thing last night. He said we could find out whether the financing worked after a couple of years. It will be too late then.

    Even if it's decided to fund the tennis facility entirely through user fees, RA will still be on the hook for the entire amount and hoping the user fees are actually received.

    It's kind of like Dad co-signing for his kid's car. Dad hopes Sally keeps her job long enough to pay off the note but he knows, if this don't work out, it's all on him.

    The essential question is do the 85-90% of RA who won't be using the facility feel generous enough to the tennis players to take on the risk of a $3-5 million guarantee and what ever part of the debt service is paid through assessment.

    I'll say one thing to the proponents of tennis: Stop acting entitled to this facility!!!

    That you been wanting this facility for a long time is irrelevant to the rest of us.

    If you get it, it's because your non-playing fellow RA members are feeling exceptionally generous toward you. Humility,"please and thank you" will go a long way. Acting like spoiled entitled children just ticks the rest of off, Mary, Vicky, Jim et al.

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  57. I agree with you Anon 10:15... debt is a wonderful thing, when properly used and justified.

    My concern is RA's present and future Boards -- who will look at our precious Reserve Fund as a checking account for "special items" -- and when their hands are slapped, will justify using a debt instrument instead. Very poor reasoning and sets a horrible precedent for future Boards.

    While David Hopkins is a good man, I would not trust our future debt considerations with any of these present or future amateurs.

    Solid businesses, and large NPOs know how to leverage debt, and use it -- not here my friend, not here…

    Once we start, we will go down the path of Columbia holding close to $80 million in short and long-term liabilities. Figure out the interest payment on that for a minute – and figure how that plays into future assessments.

    KEEP DEBT AWAY FROM RA BOARD AMATUERS – PRESENT AND FUTURE!!!

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  58. Anon 10:29 Why are you so dismissive of your neighbors who are generally speaking among the best educated cohort in the world?

    While there maybe individual exceptions, they're not "amatuers" and it's insulting and condescending to your neighbors to say so.

    RA hasn't been profligate in 40 years. Every bit of debt will require a referendum.

    It's a long way from $5 to $80 million.

    BTW, I thought it was $38 million debt in Columbia.

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  59. $38M = long term; remaining amount is short term debt at Columbia.

    I would not even consider debt at the moment until I had an assessmnet of present and future (postponed) maintenance, enhancements to our existing infrastructure and facilities. We may discover, (my fear) we need to leverage a debt facility because we have some pending big matters to deal with...

    $3-5 Million for covered tennis courts is a bit -- dare say I -- extreme. Dunno, need to see what is being proposed.

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  60. 6% of people in Reston play tennis and of those a smaller group will use an indoor facility. RA is considering taking on the largest debt/expenditure ever to satisfy a very small number of extremely vocal people.

    Tennis is the only sport in Reston that uses our hoa fees to lobby for more facilities. Yes, we pay the salaries of the tennis staff that spend a good deal of their time lobbying the RA board. They have been doing this for years. They know if they make enough noise they will get what they want. No other sport is accorded these benefits.

    Think of it this way if you are the average homeowner do you want to pay for indoor tennis with increased hoa fees and have that burden attached to your house when you try sell it. Are we so sure that future homeowners, the ones we need to buy our homes someday, are going to think this is such a great deal. All these fees (RA, Cluster, SD5) add up to a lot. Do we want to make them higher?

    Instead of taking on this enormous debt shouldn't RA be focusing on improving its rapidly deteriorating facilities and common land and pathways.

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  61. Anon 11:09 A reserve replacement study is about to be delivered to the RA Board by the staff. Wanting to see that before a debt referendum is wise and I agree with that idea.

    I expect though that your fears will be unfounded as we have replaced/rebuilt several pools already over the last several years without recourse to debt financing.

    Given a blessedly civil exchange, I'm going to press my luck and ask how is $3-5 million extreme?

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  62. Anon 1:26 RA is maintaining its facilities. RA has renovated/replaced several of the older pools already and has a schedule to do more. What other facilities have renovation needs that approach those in scale? And they're done without any debt financing.

    With 65,000 people, 24,000 dwelling units, and real estate having an assessed value in the tens of billions, how is a $3-5 million enormous?

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  63. Anon 1:26

    I think we will find that the financing option with user fees will add a negligible amount to annual assessment: less than $25/house/year?

    The contingent liability for the entire debt service if the user fees don't meet projections will be the serious concern.

    So your question is the crux of the issue: why should the 85-90% of RA members who will never use the facility take that risk for some of the wealthiest members of our community?

    That's the numb of the matter and everything else (nebulous, speculative, undocumented unprovable enhancement to assess home values, especially!) is commentary and puffery.

    And I just don't know the answer.

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  64. It's not just the $3-5million. Take a look at the finances for RCC. They are available on their web site. They operate at a massive loss. The revenue that they take in is a tiny fraction of their expenses. It only functions because of the millions of dollars in taxes. That's why we continue to pay the tax every year even though the original debt was retired decades ago.

    This center will be the same. The $3-5 million is the tip of the iceberg. The operating loss is likely to be enormous.

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  65. That's the gist of it, and the candidates in doubt last evening pointed out the same. I just believe financing is an iffy play at the moment. Once we get our first credit facility, future boards will see the precedent and will go for more (my opinion).

    $3-5 million seems to be higher than the numbers I was hearing last year. So I'd need to see what is being proposed for that amount. It just seems high -- if we are enclosing tennis courts.

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  66. anon 3:36

    RA is not RCC.

    RA is directly accountable to its membership.

    How do we get our hands around the shoulders of RCC and shake some sense into them? I have no idea. It may be impossible. Dissolution may be the only solution.

    Oakmarr and South Run must run at similar operating deficits. The holes in their budgets must get filled by general fund money.

    That said Knueval is just not a viable alternative to Danaher.

    Knueval's "dog whistle" act about how it's a bad time to borrow strikes me as either cynically disingenuous or hopelessly ignorant. Kevin, if you don't support indoor tennis, just say so. Candor would help your chances of election.

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  67. RCC is run at a much greater loss than any other Fairfax County facility. That's because they are not accountable to anyone due to their special financing arrangement through the SD5 tax. Leila will freely admit that RCC staff costs are much higher than typical FC rec center staff costs. She is on public record as saying this. To put it bluntly RCC staff costs are bloated with many, many more employees than needed and high salaries.

    The cost of building the proposed tennis facility will surely be higher than 5 million. RA also plays games with the numbers. They never include the ongoing costs in their numbers. They did the same thing when seeking money for the new headquarters.

    RA facilities are not in very good shape. Even pools that have supposedly been renovated recently are in need of work. The locker rooms at almost all of the pools are in very poor shape. The pools are not maintained well during the season. Trash is frequently overflowing. The paths are in bad shape. The common grounds need better tending.

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  68. Anon 5:13

    There will be a cost estimate from an independent construction estimator which you will be able to review. Even those who oppose the project don't quibble with the $3-5 million figure. And, yes, that's just for construction because that's what would be bonded or mortgaged. The finance committee will develop operating cost and revenue estimates in the next month or so.

    The criticisms offered about RA facilities are really daily and spot maintenance items not capital expenditures.

    The lockers are replace at each pool when they are renovated.

    Trails get spot fixes. I know of no extended stretches of trail that need to be replace at a of cost millions to do so.

    Nothing in your post is so expensive as to require debt financing and preclude borrowing $3-5 million for an indoor facility.

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  69. Anon 4:46

    The preliminary design and layout for the indoor tennis are on-line on the RA website.

    I don't know what other figure you might have heard. I don't recall any discussion of the price of a stand alone tennis facility last year.

    Given the necessity of a referendum for any RA borrowing, the "slippery slope" argument is a bit hyperbolic.

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  70. Can you tell me where to find it on the RA site?

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  71. anon 10:34

    http://www.reston.org/PressRoom/NewsReleases/IndoorTennis/Default.aspx?qenc=HzT9ACzZbNs%3d&fqenc=hu3kJELpaFhY8CUlvrsDnw%3d%3d

    "Pressroom" on orange bar/press release/indoor tennis - in the Documents box on right are links to pdf fileswith the designs and other info.

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  72. so... help me here. Galley, outdoor dining area, proshop, locker rooms, meeting room. uhhh...

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  73. Anon 11:29

    I'm not sure what your question is?

    The areas you mention are very small. The drawing is to scale. The combined square footage of the areas you identify is less than 1/2 of a tennis court.

    The "galley" is a vending machine area and place for players to sit/gather before and after their matches; "outdoor dining" - there's an overhang under which tables & chairs could be placed for players to gather/visit; "proshop" - a place to sell cans of tennis balls, etc., the profits from which help pay to run the place, its "toilet & locker rooms," - these players are coming in the winter, a place to put their coat & sweatpants is appropriate and do you object to toilet facilities; "meeting room" there is a plan for an after school tennis program where the kids play & do their homework, there is also a expectation of birthday parties which would help to pay to run the place, some lessons are taught with videos that would be shown to a group there.

    These spaces aren't large or elaborate and don't add significantly to the cost of the place. The architects labeling might be pretentious; they're architects, they do that.

    The main cost is the steel to span the courts. No one supports a plastic/fabric bubble based on prior experience at Ridge Heights and recent safety issues (Cowboys training facility blew over killing one, paralyzing another).

    So what's the question?

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  74. So who decided against just an enclosure -- I don't think anyone knew about this? Maybe my bad... Is this what will be sold at referendum... ??

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  75. Bubbles work at lots of places, like Herndon. There are locations in Reston where a bubble could be placed. These options were not looked at. The committee had a preset agenda, went straight to this site.

    They are not looking for a simple homeowners assoc type solution. This has been going on for years. Every time they have an opportunity to get indoor tennis they blow it way out of proportion, get greedy, and thus doom the project.

    It is the fault of the greedy overly ambitious RSTA that there is no indoor tennis. Accept a reasonable cost solution, like a bubble, and you will get your indoor tennis. Otherwise not and it's your own fault.

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  76. The ratinale that has been presented is that covered courts will allow people to play year round. The existing courts that are used for nine months of the year don't have a pro shop or meeting room or outdoor dining. Why does covering the courts create this need. With these I am sure comes staffing, maintenance and other costs.
    If we cover courts, with whatever type of structure, why not just do that. Keep the wind, rain and snow off and provide the essentials for a game - courts and nets. These RA projects get opposed when the ideas get grander than the need. Stick to the stated need and we avoid unnecessary expense and heated debate.

    Please, please, please keep it simple.

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  77. Hey, let's go get some debt...

    "...Additional large gaps for 2011. States’ fiscal problems will continue into the next fiscal year and likely beyond. Fiscal year 2011 gaps — both those still open and those already addressed — total $103 billion or 17 percent of budgets for the 42 states that have estimated the size of these gaps. These totals are likely to grow as revenues continue to deteriorate, and may well exceed $180 billion." "...Combined gaps of $375 billion for 2010 and 2011. These numbers suggest that when all is said and done, states will have dealt with a total budget shortfall of some $375 billion for 2010 and 2011. (This includes both gaps already closed and gaps projected for the future.)"

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=711

    "...Virginia budget outlook poor; shortfall could grow..."

    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/state_regional/state_regional_govtpolitics/article/BUDG18_20091117-222406/306389/

    "...Fairfax County budget proposes tax increase, cut in school funding.."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/23/AR2010022302691.html

    And this is just funny: "...Columbia Association cuts gym towels from budget..."

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-01-16/news/bal-md.ho.columbia16jan16_1_towels-gym-rob-goldman

    "...LETTERS TO THE EDITORJanuary 25, 2009CA needs to be more forthcoming

    The Alliance for a Better Columbia is committed to the goal of lowering the Columbia Association's annual assessment charge by 7 percent in next year's budget. Eliminating the payment of bonuses, which have increased by one-third over the past three years, would be a major step in this direction. Imposing some limits on the growth of employee benefits, which are set to increase by 45 percent over the 2007-to-2010 period, would also be warranted.

    When corporations as well as local governments are responding to the current financial storm by controlling employee costs, CA spending should not be allowed to increase at recent annual rates in excess of revenue growth as projected in the Conditional FY 2010 Budget..."

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2009-01-25/news/0901230024_1_columbia-association-mileage-allowances-information-pertaining

    Maybe we just enclose the tennis courts now, and look to the future for a grander facility -- perhaps in the RCIG, jointly funded/developed by the developer(s) and the county when it heals...???

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  78. Anon 1:55 & 2:02

    The neighboring clusters demanded a permanent structure and vowed to oppose a bubble. A permanent structure was approved by DRB, a few years ago. The RA Board at the time chose not to go forward with a referendum at that time. The idea of a fabric or plastic bubble was abandoned since that time.

    The folks who lived near the Ridge Heights swim bubble complained vociferously about the ugliness of that bubble.

    If a permanent structure is what it takes to keep the neighbors happy, this structure is as simple as one could conceive of.

    Mary Conway is EXTREMELY GREEDY. As are the RA teaching pros. She's already demanding that, once the referendum is approved, these 6 courts get "replaced" with 6 more outdoor courts. Of course, RA already has 64 outdoor courts. She is RTA's worst enemy. If she and the other RA teaching pros and their allies don't stop acting like entitled, impatient, spoiled, rich kids, this referendum will either never happen or be voted down in flames.

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  79. Anon 6:31

    Mary and her brats better smarten up. I won't vote for a tennis referendum unless there is binding commitment to build no further tennis facilities until the mortgage or bond for this facility is PAID IN FULL.

    I've really had it with this tiny minority of the RA membership that plays tennis tying up all of the time of the RA committees and leadership.

    Enough already! Starting acting grateful for all of the hours that the committee and leadership VOLUNTEERS have spent to placate your insufferable, interminable tantrum.

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  80. anon 1:55

    This past fall PPAC looked at every set of tennis courts in Reston to enclose. Only three were even viable: Hook Road, Lake Newport and I can't remember the third. Lake Newport made the most sense.

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  81. The third site analyzed was the woods at Bordeaux which was not an existing set of courts and would have had an entry off Reston Parkway and need to connect to sewer on the opposite side of the Parkway. Site costs too expensive and loss of trees eliminated this site.

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  82. Anon 6:20

    The county will never build any rec facilities in Reston, period. We had to tax ourselves extra to get the RCC.

    That's another reason, Reston should become an independent city. now.

    Hopefully, we can get an indoor 50 meter pool and related facility from a proffer. But remember if it proffered as a county facility,it will be open to any resident of the county with no preference for RA members.

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  83. I'm not a tennis player, so pardon my ignorance for asking this, but are there any privately run tennis courts/clubs near Reston that players could use if the Reston facilities are totally booked?

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  84. Yes. Lots. In fact RA paid $100,000 for a study to tell them where they were. If only they had heard of Google Maps we could have saved a lot of money.

    That last part's a joke so don't flame me with the obvious cheap responses.

    K

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  85. Anon 8:25 If you don't want to be flamed don't post like a punk.

    Lots is an gross exaggeration.

    There are some private indoor courts around, Herndon and Fairfax City, but they are few and far enough away that it is reasonable to expect that RA members will pay to use the Lake Newport indoor facility, if it's built

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  86. OK - then here is the punk response.

    The following is an extract from our expensive B&D study:

    "There is a total of 100 indoor courts in a 10 to 30 minute drive band. Of these 100 indoor courts only 10 were designated as public courts while twenty-six were designated as commercial courts and sixty-four were within private clubs."

    This is neither few nor far away. Driving within Reston to get to a facility could easily be within this time range. This is not a reason not to cover courts here (there may be others though). It is the fact as presented by RA's consultants.

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  87. Anon 10:46 That wasn't punk, that was excellent.

    RA paid only 1/2 of $100,000 for that piece of crap study. RCC paid the other 1/2.

    To the extract, only 10 are public (4-6 at Herndon Worldgate) and 26 are commercial but look at the map. I've misplaced my copy of the B&D study, aren't some in Maryland?

    B&D didn't bother to say if the private courts are open to non-members buying court time.

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  88. Balance, Milton has not 1.) apologized for sending the email or 2.) Sent out a email to those he originally sent the email endorsing the three saying that is was a mistake. Now many have voted compromising forever the election. Milton receives a salary from every homeowner in Reston so I say this is wrong. And all people are saying is "Milton has integrity." Can anyone explain to me what is integrity about using a Reston computer to send out a email on the Reston email list while on a Reston salary to promote canididates who support his own particular cause is integrity? Now I'll say that Milton is a shape guy with a inteligent response to every question and dresses real sharp but this is NOT the same thing as integrity. And that so few can discern the diffrence between integrity and being well dressed is what disappoints me so much.

    Robin wrote me to say that "these public servants work so hard" and therefore we owe them so much. I just don't see it that way at all. Where am I flawed in my thinking? I feel Milton should not be trusted with the email list and should be moved to another position at RA maybe nature house which I think he said he loves. What if he misusees the email list again in this very election?

    I do not think he is a good CEO. I do not think that he runs RA well. I see multiple RA viechles driving over the pathways. The Pathways are not roads with a sufficient foundation and are not made to sustain traffic and if you look at the edges of some of then they are crumbling, crumbling from RA viechles driving over them. I have talked to RA staff who are frustrated by this. It has to come from the top down and it's just not.

    Also RA work crews just do not look like efficient work crews. I had my own landscape company for fifteen years. If you look at private landscape crews you can see people working efficiently with no wasted motion. With RA you often see workers just hanging aaround or four people working and four trucks parked. Or just driving seemingly aimlessly around. The pool changing rooms I go to always have a big puddle of water in the middle of them. Showers drip or more often run water and do not work all season.

    ____________

    Balance says: Rod, either back up that claim or stop slandering a good man. So far, all I have heard from you is reference to the email that the CEO forwarded. He did not author the content, he merely shared it. I agree with you that the person who asked him to get the word out about the Big Dig was using it to advance the candidacy of those three. Shame on that person. Milton's error was in not picking up on that trickery as he used the power of the Internet to build support for an important volunteer effort.

    But you make a leap in saying that forwarding the email equals an endorsement. If you have any other facts to back up your claim, lay them out. Otherwise, zip it up. Wait, don't zip until you just as publicly say, "Milton, I was so upset by the someone's underhanded act that I lashed out at you, and I now see that and I apologize."

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  89. Anon 12.09

    You are correct that RA paid half of the $100,000. In fact, RA are limited in the amount that they can pay for such studies. I believe that it is $50,000. The splitting of the fees looks suspiciously like collusion between them to bypass a restriction. I work in the consulting industry and this is a common practice - your authority only lets you spend $50,000 then let's find a way of making this two $49,000 studies. It is done but is not exactly ethical.

    The question was asked about private courts that are available to Reston residents. I quoted the 10-30 minute range. The study went up to 45 minutes but most were in the 10-30 range and to me 45 minutes seemed unreasonable.

    The total in the 45 minute range was 133 courts (as opposed to 100 in 10-30). The study said that "of the 133 courts, 10% are considered public recreational courts, 32% are commercial court that are available for rental, and 58% of the courts are in private clubs". Assuming that the ratios are close for the 100 courts within 30 minutes and if I am interpreting it correctly 42 courts are available without joining a club and the other 58 could require club membership (I understand that some of these can be booked by non members if available). The question was about availability in private clubs. This does not seem to be hugely limited.

    To your question on the map you are correct that they included courts in Maryland. The courts that they counted are at 27 facilities, of these four are in Maryland. Clearly B&D consultants had not driven much in the area to include these. However I don't think it materially changes the conclusions.

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  90. Balance: Rod is over the top on Milt. That doesn't make Mr. Matthews that the CEO for the ages in an agency like RA.

    First on the email, an experienced CEO in a public body should be smart enough to look closely before forwarding a message to the association members under RA's name. For someone involved in the agency the issue was not hard to see. If Milt claims innocence by ignorance he is probably not the right person for this role.

    Milt is the CEO of an organization that is making many mistakes. I assume that he approved spending our money on a poorly specified and executed consulting report that we did not need. He was aware of the expenditure on permits for Brown's Chapel Park. I was there at the first public meeting on that issue where Milt stood outside the room and refused to go in, He did not need to hear from the people that pay his salary. As CEO he could have intervened earlier in that fiasco but he was not sufficiently interested to do so.

    Everyone makes mistakes. All that you can ask is that they learn from them. The first step is to acknowledge the mistake. I hope that Milt sees his and is learning.

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  91. Anon 3:12

    Still looking for my copy of the B&D study, it seemed to me that the travel times were not realistic.


    Courts in Tysons, Fairfax City, Chantilly & Sterling were the furtherest realistic alternatives. Beyond that was foolishness.

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  92. I don't understand why tennis players feel that their indoor recreation "needs" are more important than those of all other sports. My kids play baseball. There are outdoor baseball fields in Reston. In the winter they train at indoor facilities. There are none in Reston. We either drive the DST in Sterling or Frozen Ropes in Chantilly. Both are a 30 minute plus drive and both are expensive. My neighbors kids play soccer. They drive to Dulles SportsPlex.

    Why should my association fees go toward indoor tennis and not indoor baseball or soccer for example?

    There are plenty of indoor tennis courts available and the tennis enthusiasts know that. They just want the convenience of Reston facilities and the price-break of association sponsored courts. This is extremely selfish. So the rests of us have to pay for their indoor recreation needs -- what about ours?

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  93. I think the Reston tennis folks, god bless 'em, want to be able to host USTA sanctioned tournaments in this facility.

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  94. Columbia Assessments: Folks are paying some jack up there...

    CA Annual Charge

    If you have walked through the woods, fished in a lake, called your Village Community Association for information, enjoyed an outdoor pool, attended the free summer concerts on Lake Kittamaqundi, or voted in a village election, then you have experienced some of the benefits of the CA annual charge.

    The CA Board of Directors sets the rate to a maximum of 75 cents per $100 of valuation assessed on 50 percent of the fair market value, as determined by the State of Maryland for real estate tax purposes. Residents contribute 70 percent of the annual charge revenue and the business community 30 percent. The Columbia Association applies the same methodology used by Howard County and the State with respect to their caps on property taxes, and they don't apply those caps in calculating taxes due on a property in the year following the purchase.

    The income provided by the annual charge, while significant, covers less than half of the cost of the services provided by the Columbia Association. Therefore, some of the most popular activities, such as Package Plan or Facility Memberships, require the payment of dues and fees. Since CA resident members pay both membership dues and the annual charge, their dues are significantly lower than those paid by Non-CA residents. For example, CA resident families normally pay approximately 50 percent less for a membership in the Package Plan or for the outdoor pools than non-CA residents.

    This approach creates a strong community balance. Those who use CA facilities and programs support the greatest portion of those costs, while the expense of maintaining and operating universal amenities like community centers, pathways, tot lots and lakes are shared by all residents. A recent survey showed that CA services are well-used and enjoyed by the community — 94 percent have used at least one of the amenities including the Open Space, and 72 percent have become members or used the sports and fitness facilities, camps, before and after school care or the Art Center on a pay-as-you-go basis.

    For information about your annual charge, call the Annual Charge Hotline at 410-715-3058.

    ON THE HORIZON

    The CA Board has kept the annual charge rate for FY2009 at 68 cents, almost 10 percent less than the allowable maximum. In addition, the CA Board reduced the cap on increases in assessed valuation from 3 percent to 2.5 percent, which is one-quarter of the amount allowed by law. The amount to be paid will still be calculated based on 50 percent of the fair market value of the property. Residents contribute approximately 70 percent of the annual charge revenue, and the business community contributes 30 percent.

    http://www.columbiaassociation.com/content/getinformed/CA/annual_charge.cfm

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  95. I like the idea of letting tennis players pay an extra charge for tennis facilities.

    Also, keep in mind Reston residents typically pay RA fee plus cluster fee ($1200. range) plus SD5 tax. In our neighborhood thats about $2500. total per year. Our cluster cover trash and snow removal from main road and a little common land maintenance, that's about it.

    Another big difference businesses are NOT part of RA. They pay nothing and that's a major problem. A little bit of revenue from businesses would really help -- that will never happen, someone really goofed when they set it up that way.

    RA needs to live within its means. RA growth is severely restricted. As Reston grows in the coming years, RCIG, metro, etc. none of these businesses or residences will be part of RA. There is no boon of revenue coming our way. People need to be realistic.

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  96. Our cluster dues, alone, are a little over $1800/year.

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  97. Anon 10:20

    There was a proposal for a covered batting cages/bullpens at Browns Chapel for baseball/softball players. It would cost less than $70,000 and be smaller that a 2 car garage. Not even the former president of Reston Youth baseball would pursue it.

    If someone said,"RA is all tennis, all the time." would they be far off?

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  98. You all have such short memories, or you haven't lived here long enough. Once upon a time in Reston, you did not have to pay for pools and tennis courts if you chose not to use them. Then the RA Board changed the rules; this is wta happens when RA members are not continuously vigilant (as if I have time to do this along with everything else...). It is my understanding that the costs for upkeep, staff, etc., are now spread among all residents via our assessment, and on top of that we have to pay for a pass. Now--flash forward to the covered tennis court facility discussion. There is no doubt in my mind that the exact same hoodwink could happen with that facility and every single Reston resident will end up paying for the cost, whether they use it or not. Self-sustaining, my you-know-what.

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  99. Anon 12:26 & 12:53

    Our cluster dues are less than $1,000. We get trash pick-up, snow plowing on 0.2 miles of private road, leaf blowing & grass cutting of common area + $2,500 toward reserves for replacement.

    What are you getting for the extra money?

    Anon 12:26

    RA dues are $515. STD 5 taxes @ $0.047 per $100 of valuation. If your cluster dues are $1200, then STD 5 taxes would be $785 for all three to total $2500/year and your house would have to be valued at $1.670 million dollars.

    If you own that much house, $2500/year should be no sweat, right?

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  100. Anon 1:05

    Your memory is fogging up on you, old person. There was a separate fee for pools and tennis but no way did it ever cover the cost to maintain and operate those facilities. From day one RHOA assessments helped to pay a majority of the costs for operation of pool and tennis. It got to the point where keeping track of who paid for pool and tennis wasn't worth the aggravation, especially since no one was policing the tennis courts to make sure only those paying extra were using the courts.

    Use of the indoor facility will be easier to gatekeep than the 64 outdoor courts and 14 pools.

    Even if the indoor tennis is 100% funded with user fees, there will be a guarantee of the debt by RA membership at large, so that if the actual revenues don't meet projections, assessments will have to fill the gap.

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  101. Anon 12:26 here. I said cluster dues are typically in the $1200 range. Ours is considerably more. And no my house is not worth over a million, but it is expensive as we bought at the top of the real estate market. It has gone done in price at least 100K. We are struggling to pay our large mortgage as our family income has gone down considerably in the past couple of years due to the bad economy. It hurts when we have an association that is so out of touch with the economic times.

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  102. They have every intention of making the entire RA membership pay for the tennis facility. These tennis people know a good thing when they see it. They can get the RA to build a tennis facility and make the rest of us pay for it, whether we ever use it or not. We get to subsidize their recreational activity and we get nothing out of it.

    Ask yourself this question: Do I want my assessment money going toward building a tennis facility and am I willing to pay even higher assessments to cover the cost? I think the average Restonian will answer NO. And this is not a short term expense, we will be paying the construction cost for years and the ongoing maintenance forever. Am I so sure the future buyer of my house will think it's a great deal?

    There is no tennis fairy. This thing will be paid for with real money -- ours!

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  103. Anon 12:26/2:09

    I'm confused. You said your RA + Cluster + STD 5 totaled $2500 and your cluster was $1200.

    I missed something.

    Sorry for the bad luck you're facing.

    Best wishes for a quick return to better times.

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  104. Anon 2:18

    Listening to Finance Committee discussions, it's pretty clear that their recommendation will include users fees. What percentage of debt service and other operating costs will be covered by user fees remains to be seen.

    RA assessments will still be guaranteeing the entire debt and making up whatever shortfalls occur between costs and user fee revenue.

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