News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Citing 'Poopy Pants' Economy, Indoor Tennis Tabled For Now

simpsons-movie-dome-1.pngAt a heavily attended meeting last night, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted 8-1 to not hold a fun referendum on building an indoor tennis facility at Lake Newport. Technically, the board vote was to direct RA staff to keep researching opportunities for private-public partnerships, with only one board member -- Lake Anne/Tall Oaks director Ken Kneuven -- voting to table the proposal indefinitely.

Board members pointed out that one possibility would be using the developer money it's asked Fairfax County to send its way.

"Proffers are the way we have gotten all the other tennis courts and the pools," said RA President Kathleen Driscoll McKee. "Why should this be different? Our economy is really poopy pants right now."
Such language! Leave the potty talk to the filthy "web loggers," amiright?

Continuing to kick the can on this may wind up making sense, especially if the RA seriously believes it's going to talk Fairfax County into giving it that sweet sweet proffer money. But as we've said before, at some point someone's going to have to invest in new amenities for the influx of people coming to Reston's awesome bollardy new developments. Otherwise, why would the developers of future mauvescraper condos see any benefit to becoming RA members instead of having their own pools and "exercise room" (two treadmills in front of a distressed flat-screen TV permanently turned to Fox News)?

So no fun referendum ballot with sweet clip art of tennis rackets and whatnot will be coming to your mailbox next year. But don't feel left out -- the annual assessment is already on its way, so happy holidays!

Update: The official take on the decision:

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  1. "at some point someone's going to have to invest in new amenities for the influx of people coming to Reston's awesome bollardy new developments"

    If there is TRULY a demand for such amenities - meaning, people are willing to pay for them, not just use them if they are provided for "free" - then a business will create them. If a business can't make the numbers add up, that means not enough people are willing to pay for indoor tennis, and that means the demand for indoor tennis does not truly exist.

  2. "why would the developers of future mauvescraper condos see any benefit to becoming RA members instead of having their own pools and "exercise room""

    They're going to do that anyway. In both Arlington and McLean I lived in apartments that had their own pools and tennis courts even though private gyms with much better equipment (and pools!) as well as county rec centers with pools and fitness facilities were within walking distance.

  3. Anon @10:16 AM,

    You can't count on developers making the best decisions about what people value and what makes high-quality communities. If you did, Reston would look like Manassas Park -- and the property values would reflect the lack of amenities. lower quality of life, etc.

  4. @Anon 10:35am,

    Eh, you pretty much can. In any event, I trust people who put their own money on the line (developers) to have a better idea of what people really want (i.e., are willing to pay for) than people who put other people's money on the line (government).

    You're assuming that all people, everywhere, want the same amenities and same "quality of life" and have the same ability to pay for it. Developers are providing the folks in Manassas Park with what they want, and are able to pay for, but that's different from what the folks in Reston want and are able to pay for. Indeed, the folks in Manassas Park would want different stuff than Reston folks even if they had the same amount of money.

  5. "Poopy pants"

    I think we have a winner for a new Reston slogan to replace "live, work, play, & whatever"

  6. Liar! Liar! Poopy Pants On Fire!December 16, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    "Poopy pants"

    I think we have a winner for a new Reston slogan to replace "live, work, play, & whatever"

    And poopy pants are naturally earth-toned!

  7. 10:54,

    Agreed, except that I paid to live in Reston, and don't want to see the quality of life become like Manassas Park because amenities and services don't keep up with population growth. Too late to do anything about the growth, thanks to the county, so we might as well try to do something about the other stuff.

  8. I largely agree with the first commenter. If Reston wants to add a new pool and/or tennis courts to support the larger population, I might begrudgingly go along with it, but they want to go beyond that. They want to increase the level of amenities. They want INDOOR tennis courts (and if I recall correctly although I could be wrong) and gym. That increases the costs exorbitantly.

    Indoor tennis courts, in particular, don't seem to be a project that has a broad enough level of interest to support the costs involved in building and maintaining the building. I'd rather keep it simple and stick with outdoorish stuff - parks, tennis courts, soccor/baseball fields.

  9. Come on people, do you realize where your current assessment dollars go? It was mentioned last night, that $37 goes to aquatics/pools alone. Guess what, over $8 goes to support the day camps, and I dare say most people in Reston don't utilize this service, and there are far more tennis players, yet only $3.50 of the current assessment goes to tennis, and indoor tennis would only raise this to be at least on par with day camps.

    I don't begrudge the other groups, that is what being part of a community is about, but this project needs to be kept in focus, and it really is a small part of the overall Reston funding.

    Check out todays message on the Reston Website, and see the brochure about how our assessments are spent.

    The numbers speak for themselves.

  10. Come on Anon 2:47.

    So your logic is that it's fine to spend money on something unnecessary, as long as we are already spending more on something equally unneccessary?

    Let's cut pools/aquatics and Day Camps down to $3.50 and solve both our problems.

  11. I'm happy to spend $8 a year to support the day camps. To me, it's an investment in attracting families with young children to Reston, which helps keep the property values on my lovely SFH higher than in Manassas Park (to use the straw man example posited earlier). Ditto with the $37 for pools -- it's a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a family membership at a community pool in most places, and you get to pick which pool you want to go to.

    All these people who are up in arms about the RA providing services that the "private sector" should be providing need to realize that the RA *is* a private-sector entity we've all bought into. The result is a nicer place to live with better property values than comparable aging neighborhoods elsewhere. Why is this so hard to grasp?

  12. If you buy property in Reston, you're buying into the idea and reality of a community association. If you don't believe in RA funding pools, tennis courts, trails, etc., then you should buy in a different community.

    That having been said... why indoor tennis as opposed to, say, an indoor swimming pool? Or a skate park? Or a water park, or bowling alley, or fitness center, or any other type of facility? There is no justification at this point for this kind of facility over any other kind.

  13. Anon 5:07, 5:13

    For some of us, it's not a question of not "believ(ing) in RA funding pools, tennis courts, trails, etc.". It's a question of whether "indoor" sports facilities that require large initial expenditures and continuing expensive long-term upkeep are the best use of our assessment dollars.

    Would 4-5 indoor tennis courts make Reston more of a "nicer" place to live than better lighting to make the pathways safer, or improving the access and water quality of our lakes? Or a dozen oher things that we can all think of, for that matter.

    Stop and think about it. How many residents could actually be served by having 4-5 indoor courts available? In this economy, it's really a question of being "smart" about how you spend. Why is this so hard to grasp?

  14. "All these people who are up in arms about the RA providing services that the "private sector" should be providing need to realize that the RA *is* a private-sector entity we've all bought into."

    You need to realize that there is a fundamental difference between entities like a private gym which nobody is forced to join, and entities like the RA which everyone is forced to join.

    People who want to play tennis should pay for tennis, and nobody else should have to pay.

    "If you buy property in Reston, you're buying into the idea and reality of a community association. If you don't believe in RA funding pools, tennis courts, trails, etc., then you should buy in a different community."

    So we should all happily pay for every crazy expensive idea that only benefits a few people, or go live somewhere else, is that it?

  15. Anon 9:21, nobody is forced to join RA. By buying in Reston, you willingly agree to be a part of RA. No, that doesn't mean you need to agree with everything RA does or can't voice disagreement -- but the very nature of RA is and has been in part to provide common goods that improve Reston as a community. If a Reston homeowner finds they're not as comfortable with RA as they thought they would be, then yes, selling and moving elsewhere is the smart thing to do.

    Anon 5:13 is not for the indoor tennis facility -- read the post.

  16. @Anon 9:52, living in Reston does not mean that you are forced to accept (and pay for) every crazy scheme that anyone else in Reston suggests as a way to "improve Reston as a community."

    In fact, it is the people who clamor for indoor tennis who are "anti-RA" and need to leave Reston, since they are trying to force changes on the community that the vast majority of the people in the community simply do not want.

  17. @Anon 9:52, furthermore, the argument that "you should just move if you don't like it" is absurd and dishonest, since you know full well that there are a whole host of reasons why people can't sell their houses now, nor should they be forced to simply to provide costly and unnecessary amenities for a small group of people.

  18. I'm afraid that I'm in the anti-indoor tennis camp, despite my fondness for the sport. I believe that initiatives should have broad appeal, such as those targeted to senior citizens, teens, and small kids. I think that Buffalo summed it up nicely. In this area, only country clubs tend to have indoor tennis, or the occasional health club. Do we really want to head this way? Or contemplate having a two-tier "silver" and "gold" Reston amenities access card? ...that's not our typical approach, either. Perhaps with all this rapid development, we can encourage developers to create amenities by giving them tax breaks or something else valuable, like a guest blogger infomercial spot on

  19. If only country club patrons have access to indoor tennis, that is a compelling argument for an indoor facility in Reston, that would open up access to many more people.

    Nobody forced anyone to buy a house in Reston. Reston is what it is precisely because of RA and all of the wonderful facilities that are available for our very inexpensive assessments.

    Take your tea party to the hinterlands of Particleboardia and while oyu are there, find a moderately priced italian eatery with complementary gissini and eat them until you can't eat anymore.

  20. Anon 12:03, the groups you mention , senior citizens, teens, and small kids, are precisely part of the group this intiative is targeted for.

    There is a misconception throughouit this thread, that Reston Tennis, is only geared toward a select few. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reston Tennis, is very inclusive, and provides programming across a wide demographic, as evidenced by the wide range of speakers at last week's meeting.

  21. Thanks to the federal government, Northern Virginia economy is as good as ever, and Reston assessments are bigger than ever. If somebody tells you that there is no money there for a couple of tennis courts, the money were stolen.

  22. Tennis may be available to all who can wield a racket, but there is a significant cost difference between encouraging tennis adoption and building an indoor facility dedicated to tennis. Appealing to a wide user base is key, and our climate is such that tennis can be played outdoors for much of the year. It's hardly "tea party"-like to suggest that Reston might not need the expense to be shared by all for something that is unlikely to have broad appeal. To take anon 2:52's logic forward, we should install a golf driving range so as not to do without an amenity typically found at a country club. By doing so, we could open up golf to Reston residents who might not be able to pay Reston National or Hidden Creek's greens fees. ...sure, it sounds like fun, but is it in the overall community's best interest? Or if not, is it highly affordable? I doubt that indoor tennis is highly affordable.

  23. Actually, the climate is such that tennis CANNOT be played much of the year outdoors. I know, I like to play, but it is either too hot and humid or too cold and windy.

    Also, please refer to the PDF linked above. Only 20% of RA assessments are spent on ALL kinds of facilities which actually raise everybody's standard of living and property values. The rest is pure waste.

  24. I am not convinced of the "need" for indoor tennis. But I am not opposed. I'm not convinced of the need for 50+ miles of trails or the abundance of pools and tennis courts. But I am not opposed. If it cost me nothing (or very little) and it is not in my backyard, go for it.

    Ah, but there is the heart of the issue. To the extent anyone can make reasonable projections, cost is a red herring. Unlike commercial firms, the overhead to run indoor tennis is not a real factor. RA does not have to pay for the land and taxes (as a comm'l firm would have to cover). Maintaining court surfaces indoors would be cheaper than what RA now pays to maintain the Brown's Chapel outdoor courts. The cost of building the facility (including financing interest) is virtually covered by user fees if the RA facility is at least generally competitive with for-profit courts in the area. It is possible that the operation could run at a loss, but it is also possible (perhaps even likely) that it could produce a profit.

    The real objection is the backyard. The nearby residents have been annoyingly vocal in opposition to anything close to their houses. I understand. They denied youth baseball an opportunity to have County-provided (i.e., free) lighted ballfields. They were aghast at the thought of a nearby general purpose rec center. (Interestingly, their lead advocates disingenuously offered to support indoor tennis as a trade off for the rec center, apparently in the hope that the offer would be forgotten.) With interest rates at a record low and a work-starved construction industry offering exactly the climate to make such a move, they wave the proverbial herrings when their real concern is proximity to their properties.

    I would like to see the agile minds who play here focused on the over-arching (and very real) objections. Is the proposed facility a genuine threat to the value and enjoyment of nearby residences? Do their interests outweigh the benefits to the community as a whole? These are questions worthy of debate. The cost of free fish is not.

  25. Enough with the Tennis. What Reston needs is a roller rink. That would have wide appeal as a real participation and spectator venue.

    Bring Roller Derby to Reston!


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