News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Weekend: Pools, Art, and a Transit-Inspired Stroll Through Bethesda

An exciting weekend's ahead for us in Reston! Two pools -- Ridge Heights and North Shore -- open tomorrow, there's the fancy Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in Reston's fake downtown, and in case you're not a fan of art, swimming, or transit-oriented development, there's this:

Metro is coming to Reston. You’ve heard it and maybe you can’t wait for the day you can hop aboard a train rather than sit in traffic.

But what will Reston be like once Metro arrives? Gridlock around the stations? Asphalt and concrete replacing trees and walking paths? YOUR “Live, Work, Play and Get Involved”-- gone? Not necessarily.

Learn how Metro will affect your neighborhood by attending Transit Oriented Development: A Tale of Two Counties and How a Connected Street Network Can Support a More Attractive and Walkable Reston. This discussion will take place on Saturday, May 15, 2010, from 9-11 a.m at South Lakes High School’s Seminar Room at 11400 South Lakes Drive, Reston.

You will hear how Arlington and Montgomery counties have both turned the areas around Metro stations into beautiful, tree-lined streetscapes, where people walk, bike, live and shop, where businesses thrive and how a connected street network improves traffic and access while it prepares areas for transit oriented development.

This event is co-hosted by Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, Hunter Mill District, Dulles Corridor Rail Association and Reston Association. For more information, call 703-715-4500.
Let's take a closer look at one of those two counties, courtesy of Doug Pew, who posted to the RestonPaths "web site" pictures from a fun walking tour of Bethesda, Montgomery County's premier transit-oriented development. Grab your 3-D virtual immersion goggles and join us around your Web machine TV screen in this nightmarish glimpse of Reston's future stroll around one of D.C.'s premiere suburban neighborhoods, won't you?

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You had us at "above-ground parking garage," Bethesda. You did.

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When people gush about Bethesda's high-end retail, we're guessing they're talking about this block.

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Somehow, we don't think this is the photo on the cover of the Bethesda Chamber of Commerce brochure. But this is an example of an existing neighborhood just blocks from the Metro station. Too bad none of us reading this filthy "web log" can afford to live there.

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Jaywalkers! Floor it!

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We conclude our abridged version of the walking tour of scenic, if somewhat boring, Bethesda in the bowels of the Bethesda Metro station, which features underground bus bays, Zip cars, some really ugly lighting fixtures, and legions of unseen goblins ready to pounce on the unaware commuter, the end.

Update: The folks at Reston 2020 have posted presentations from the TOD seminar.

22 comments:

  1. Thank you Doug, it's about time that 'spin' met reality. Wake up Reston, and look beyond the 'hype'.

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  2. Love the green space!! Put a tree or two to appease the peasants.

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  3. You know, I live in Montgomery County and I read your blog because I appreciate the "snarky" tone, but does it ever sting when you turn it on my home.

    Come to Bethesda for real and see what Reston could be. It is so much more than parking garages. Or, really, come to Silver Spring because we have better food. Unlike you, both had "real" downtowns back when Robert Simon was teething.

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  4. I go to the Fine Arts Festival every year. Rain or shine it's one of the nicer events at the Town Center.

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  5. MoCo Has Lost Its MojoMay 14, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    So this is BiCO's vision of paradise? Macaroni Grill doesn't look so bad after all.

    And Dan, love the potential new Bethesda Chamber of Commerce slogan you came up with.

    "Bethesda...it is so much more than parking garages".

    ;-)

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  6. You should have taken a pic of the gate to the bowels of hell, the nausea-inducing escalators at the metro station (yes, I hate them, yes, they are frickin awesome).

    You did miss out in the food aspect. I will always see Bethesda as a food town, too many places to choose without having to hit the chain outlets. And (at least it was when I worked there) the circulator bus was really nice to have. We could step out of the office, hop on the free bus (or semi-trolley, if it was riding that day) and be on the other side of town in about 8 minutes.

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  7. Are we going to have a free circulator bus?

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  8. So Hudgins is hosting another disinformation session, is she? I guess people are starting to realize that no matter how you spin it, adding another 50K people (along with their attendant vehicles) to Restingrad is not going to magically create shorter wait times at Macaroni Grill -- or Carrabas, for that matter.

    Free circulator bus? Heck, we'll be lucky if we can keep our fee-paid one-hour loop and buses.

    On the other hand, it is the beginning of strawberry season, so this Convict and his Convictlets are heading to the farm where they understand that smartly designed concrete doesn't equate with extra sunshine and fresh air.

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  9. We once went to Bethesda on sort of pilgrimages to Bethesda Bagel before bagels became more widespread in these parts. So I get the better food there idea. Though we are improving in that regard. Ah trying to find a place to park in Bethesda! Even in residential neighborhoods! The McMansions!

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  10. And the Reston that exists now does not have its ugly spots?

    How about the vast soulless expanse of isolated office buildings and immense parking lots that stretches out southeast of the intersection of Wiehle Ave and Sunset Hills Road, with its sadly isolated Greek and bad Chinese restaurants? Or the asphalt jungle of the Spectrum Center?

    How about the abandoned parking lot adjoining the three-letter agency compound at the northeastern corner of Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway? Or the abandoned lots with weeds poking through the asphalt that surround the National Wildlife Federation headquarters? Or the boarded-up, weed-covered, and graffiti-marred old Wiehle Town Hall on Old Reston Ave?

    If you want a light-deprived "plaza" in a hole between office buildings, we already have that, squeezed in between the four office buildings that rise just west of the Plaza America shopping center - this space is devoid of any life except at 5 p.m., when all the office worker cars spew forth from the parking garages.

    And if you know anything about plants, you know that the vegetation along the W&OD bike path is mostly a bunch of weeds and aggressively invasive exotic species (Amur honeysuckles, multiflora rose, mile-a-minute vine, etc. etc.). This is not unspoiled nature.

    Sure, there are lots of low-density residential neighborhoods with greenery and open space north of Hidden Creek Country Club and south of the Reston National Golf Course. But let's face it - in between the two golf courses, Reston already is ugly - and that is exactly where the Metro and its attendant development is going to go.

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  11. So, ArDubya, you're proposing that we supplant the old ugly with the new ugly, and add a few extra thousand people in the process. Nice plan there, ArDubya.

    I think I've got a new nickname for that area: Mordor on the Toll Road.

    (I'm just wondering here, ArDubya. Are you on Comstock's or Hudgin's payroll?)

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  12. Convict:

    No, I am not on either Comstock's or Hudgins's payroll. But I am a resident of Reston (same place BiCO used to live in, though I don't know the guy), and I work in Reston for a small business.

    And unlike BiCo, who just wants everyone else to use public transit so that he can use his car more easily, I have drawn the proper conclusion and gotten rid of my car (yes, I am one of the ones who signed the multiple petitions to avert the Fairfax Connector cuts). You can in fact reach everything you really need here in Reston on foot or via bus, and that will only become truer once we get more transit-oriented development here.

    As for preserving the open space and greenery in Reston - I mourn for the true greenery and rural spaces that were here before Bob Simon bought up the lot and raped it with low-density sprawl (though I give him props for making it much higher-quality sprawl than other developers would have produced).

    If it were not for the stable job I have here in Reston, I'd be living in DC, which to my mind has the correct development pattern - dense walkable neighborhoods adjoining large consolidated parcels of open space, such as Rock Creek Park or the National Arboretum (which is also the development pattern in Germany, where I grew up).

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  13. They do have some nice multi-use paths that cut across Bethesda, but they don't have a path system that connects the various communities.

    The nice wooded areas mostly lie south of Bradley Blvd. If the developers and planners have their way, North Point and Lawyers Road will be about the only havens from urban sprawl.

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  14. We All Live In BICO's WorldMay 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    BICO is a real trip.

    He's now touting the walkability and quality of life of living in the far out hinterlands of Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley.

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  15. Went to the meeting today and loved some of what I saw: only Ian not anyone else. (Arlington looks like a concrete jungle, Bethesda a bit better but still not Reston.) I now have higher visions of what it could be which is far greater than what is being proposed.

    It was all about what could be but nothing about the existing plan.

    Ms. Hudgins left after her initial introduction.

    No answers to the additional 6,000 cars traveling south on Wiehle by 2015.

    NO answers to all of the outstanding zoning applications to increase density.

    The group did believe that more N/S options over the tollway were needed.

    It came out that no minimum green space was required other than the county's 15% rule.

    Other observations anyone?

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  16. (Sigh). Does the cyber-stalking and snarkiness never end for some of you? I am quickly seeing my tenure in Reston coming to an abrupt close, which is why I'm contributing here much less, and yet several of you still bring me up to disparage me at a time when I've just hit rock-bottom? Just let me leave in peace. I know nobody wants me here. This is why I'm leaving with my tail between my legs. Laugh all you want because you'll never see me again. This past year was nothing but a mistake in my eyes, and I need to remove myself from this situation soon before I'm not as fortunate as I was earlier this year and wind up much worse off than I currently am.

    What has befallen me since the dawn of 2010 is unlike anything I've ever experienced, and I wouldn't wish this upon my own worst enemy. Not even therapy has helped me, and I'm hesitant to turn to anti-depressants for their myriad side effects. My depression has caused me to lose passion for the job I once loved so much. I no longer feel like running because I no longer get that "rush" afterwards. I am lucky if I go to the gym once per week anymore. Most of my friends have left me. I find myself crying very often for no reason. My stamina has suffered. My family thinks I'm nuts. Why can't you people just let me pack up and ship out without the needless jabs? You think you're funny putting people who are visibly distraught down for your own personal gain? You're no better than the majority of the people I've met in Fairfax County thus far who are so insecure with themselves that they stress themselves to the core to afford to buy nicer things for themselves to try to stand out from the crowd, not caring whom they malign in the process as long as they get theirs. Shameful.

    Yes, I am now likely relocating to Winchester. Whenever I feel like all hope is lost in my life I hop in the Mazda and gun it out to Winchester because it serves as THERAPY for me to walk around in a place that seems to have a true sense of community, history, camaraderie, and fellowship. I then normally cry the entire drive back to Fairfax County, inwardly hoping I'd veer into a tree. The Reston Town Center lifestyle that most here think is "Utopian" could not be further removed from what I dream about in an idyllic setting. I long for a place where people won't judge me for my income, even if it means I'm not living a life of luxury, in order to focus on devoting my efforts to trying to help people. Nothing has ever made me happier in life than volunteering to do great things for others, but it's been hard for me to want to give back to a place like Reston that I feel has just damaged me so much inside.

    In conclusion I already realize I'm a bad person. Please stop with the cyber-bullying (this includes the harassment on Facebook, through my e-mail, unsolicited messages to contacts of mine, slandering me on my hometown newspaper's web site, etc., etc.) You win. I lose. There. I said it. Now it would be nice for some of you to put a cork in it because if I get pushed too far (as I almost did recently) I'm sure none of you would feel very proud of yourselves in the long-run.

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  17. I'm sorry to read that you're having a bad time of it, BiCO.

    If I might offer up an observation. The more you put yourself out there, the more people are going to comment on that. While you can control how much you reveal about yourself, you can't control what others have to say about you. And in this kind of forum that is more-or-less unmoderated, there are going to be a lot of unkind things said precisely because there is no one to draw the boundary between permissible and impermissible.

    In any case, BiCO, if I might add, don't let this go too far. Depression to some extent is a natural part of all of our existences. It can be useful sometimes. However, when it become all consuming, when it gets to the point that you can't stand your life, some changes need to be made. This might mean changing jobs, changing housing, changing friends, changing hang outs or changing attitudes. It might also involve a trip or trips to the doctor and possibly meds. There are alternatives. Not always the ones we like, but there are always alternatives.

    I've been there, BiCO. I know what it's like to slip down that dark, dark well and feel as if there's no way up and out. Seek help before it gets to that point.

    Or, if my remarks are inappropriate, tell me to mind my own fracking business. After all, there's no moderator here to call you on it.

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  18. I lived in Montgomery County for three years before coming to Reston. What a corrupt shithole that was/is. Not recommended.

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  19. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonMay 15, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    Bico, I share Convict's sentiments in that I likewise regret you are so unhappy with your life at present. The cyber-bullying you've been subjected to is reprehensible, and I've seen some incidents of that on another local forum where you post. I'd like to think, however, that such out of bounds harassment has not occurred to you here in Restonian. At least I've never seen anything here that I'd construe as such. Yes, you've taken your share (more than your share, actually) of shots in this forum, but if you post regularly that's bound to happen -- just as Hickory, Convict, and I have all gotten dinged a few times by people who disagreed with our comments. Nobody is immune on the Web, even in the readers' forum of such august organizations as the New York Times or the BBC.

    I don't want to play amateur psychiatrist, but I respectfully suggest that you rank order what is making you unhappy and then figure out which of those factors are within your power to change. You may find, however, that you have to make compromises or trade-offs. If you go live in Winchester, you likely will be spending three to four hours a day commuting to and from your job in Tysons. If you move somewhere like Arlington or the District to enjoy the 20-somethings' urban lifestyle that is obviously more to your liking than suburbia, you may have to share a house or apartment to afford it.

    Knowing you only through your on-screen persona and not having all the details, it might be presumptuous of me to try giving you specific advice. But I'll list three thoughts anyway for what they're worth.

    First, in this current economic climate, think very carefully about giving up your current job before you have something definite lined up elsewhere. Last thing you probably need right now is to be without a steady source of income -- ask anyone unemployed what kind of stress that is.

    Second, you might benefit from working with a professional career counselor who can help you decide what you really want to do in life that will make you happy. It's never too late; two of my friends did so in their 50s and moved from jobs in public relations and IT, which they hated, to nursing, which they find fulfilling.

    Third, if you do move out of NoVa, I'd suggest you first rent for a year and not buy, so that you're not tied down with a piece of property in case the grass isn't greener over there.

    I wish you all the best. And believe it or not, you are not a bad person and, speaking at least for myself, you are a welcome presence on Restonian.

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  20. Bico, I have to respectfully say that if someone taking pot shots at you on a blog (and I have seen you dole out more than a few of your own) makes you want to off yourself, you need to go on the antidepressents.

    That isn't a "normal" level of depression that is going to be fixed by moving or getting a new job. You need to pull out the big guns.

    I will also say that IMO (and I have suffered from depression before), living alone is a really, really bad idea if you tend to suffer from this. It's a lot harder to get stuck in a fugue state if there is always someone around to talk to.

    You may also want to consider that a lot of your perceptions about Reston are colored by your current mental state. There are tons of people in Reston who do not live the "town center lifestyle." I would wager that most people don't. The majority of the people I know in Reston are not rich by a long shot. My $7 a month cell phone is held together by duct tape.

    Anyway, get some help so that you feel better.

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  21. Good luck BiCo, hope all is well in your future.

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  22. Bico.. I don't come here very often, but I am alarmed at your change of tone in just a short few weeks. Your friends here have given you some very sound advice.

    May I suggest that before you make any major moves (with job, relocation, etc.) that you get a professional evaluation of your state of mind. If it is nothing, you will be relieved.. if it is something, you can be on the road to recovery in no time. My very best to you.

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