News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Indecision 2011: RA Candidates Discuss Metro, Development, and What The RA Wants To Be When It Grows Up

Election Campaign Button.jpegIn case you haven't yet turned in your fancy ballot for the Reston Association Board elections, the Fairfax Times "news-paper" has a fancy article about many of the candidates running for the board, allowing us to read words instead of watching fancy YouTube videos to learn about the "issues." Let's dive in, shall we?

Ask the eight candidates running to represent Reston this spring what the top election issue this year, and they'll tell you one thing:
Giant-headed leviathans?
Hey, at least we were close.
Those running for three open seats on the Reston Association Board of Directors are all focusing on Metrorail and what's needed to prepare for its coming in 2013 -- good leadership and new membership in the Reston Association, a governing body representing most homeowners and businesses in Reston. Specifically, candidates said Reston Association should reopen the dialogue with Reston Town Center officials about bringing that group under its membership umbrella.
There may not be a lot of receptiveness to that, but it's a good idea.

Appropriately, a lot of the debate involves what the RA needs to be when it grows up.
"Reston Association has to be always at the table when it involves Metro coming, and so far, it has been," said John George, one of four candidates running for an open at-large seat. "The major concern I have is that we have to be very vigilant and part of this process [of planning for rail's arrival]. ... I think there are some people who think Reston Association should act more like a homeowners association, but when it comes to Metro it needs to function like a government."

George and several other candidates said recruiting new members in the Dulles corridor will be key to the future of RA, which represents about 60,000 people. Ballots were recently mailed to all 21,000-plus homes and renters within RA. The deadline for voting is 5 p.m. April 1. "Recruitment of new members -- that's how Reston Association will ensure its programs remain valuable," George said.

Fellow candidate Jason Carlo, who also is running for the at-large seat, said development in the Dulles corridor must be integrated into Reston.

"Those residents could come in and not be members of the Reston Association, but could impact Reston," he said. "The board of directors really has the responsibility to attract those residents."
To do that, the RA may have to stop fixating over color palettes and whatnot, several candidates said.
He added that RA may need to be more flexible in its design rules if it is to attract new membership, many of which will likely be developers.

"If they say, we like RA but not the covenants, RA might have to look deep inside itself and decide what it wants to be," Carlo said.
That sound you just heard was the DRB banging its collective head against the wall.

The Hunters Woods/Dogwood candidates both focused on the impact of growth on existing neighborhoods.
Interconnectability and protecting existing development are also concerns for Cheryl Beamer, one of two candidates running for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat.

"[Metrorail] really has the potential to impact the character of the RA neighborhoods over there," she said, adding that the planned parking structure near the Metro station should be better positioned "so it doesn't look like a big cement block" in the middle of the landscape.

"It's all about whether we are going to get this right," she said. "I've been on the board for four years and every year I've run I've included in my platform that there should be a department or staff dedicated to development.

Her opponent, Victor Van Rees, said "protecting the somewhat fragile infrastructure here and the identity of Reston" should be the top priority.
Meanwhile, we'll give kudos to the Times for actually paying attention to the vacant apartment owners seat on the board of directors.
Representing apartment owners in the Reston Association is candidate Amanda Andere, who is running unopposed.

She said she's worried about apartment renters being priced out of Reston by new development.

"Metro is a real opportunity for the Reston community," she said, adding "part of the issue is having affordable housing so people can really live, work and play here," which is RA's slogan.

"Reston has a really unique commitment to affordability in housing and it's important to continue that effort," she said. "It's about the economy and making sure people who work here can live here. If people can buy homes here, then people should want to rent here, too."
The deadline for returning ballots is April 1.


  1. At least talking about Metro makes us forget about the juice bar we won't get in the indoor tennis facility for $3.8 million . . . but who is keeping track of which candidate supports it and who wants a community poll to find out if we want it.

  2. "part of the issue is having affordable housing so people can really live, work and play here,"

    So wait, if there were no "affordable housing", then nobody would really live here?


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