Please to be enjoying this exciting photo of the original
Monday, October 31, 2011
Please to be enjoying this exciting photo of the original
Friday, October 28, 2011
European cities were built around cathedrals, which in turn were built, in part, to house relics -- the toenail of a saint, or what have you. We're pleased to tell you that Reston, too, is home to an artifact that's worthy of a large physical structure -- say, a seven-level parking garage topped by parallelograms -- to call home.
Our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, just happened to be watching "History Detectives" on PBS when the show's hosts stumbled upon the find of the millennium -- the original Ronald McDonald costume, in the hands of a Reston collector! (It was actually the prototype used to standardize advertising for franchise operators around the country, but who's quibbling?) Not Randy Lieberman, our own Indiana Jones of mid-century franchise memorabilia.
Please to be enjoying this fancy embedded video of this dramatic find (skip ahead to about 37:00 for the McDonalds segment). A transcript is available here if for some reason you prefer reading.
As the Peasant put it, "how this national treasure escaped being swept up by the Smithsonian is unclear, but it is with pride swelling in our hearts and a tear in our eyes that Restonians can state we are indeed the official cultural capital of the civilized world, with the Macaroni Grill as our artistic epicenter. Paris may have the Beaux Arts, but we have the Beaux-zo Arts!"
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Along with a preponderance of fixed-gear bikes and artisan cupcakes, the true test of an
authentic fake downtown Gritty Urban Core is the regular appearance of flash mobs. Well, we have to grudgingly admit that Reston Town Center has now met that vaunted standard.
This past weekend, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer organized a "dance party flash mob." An excellent cause to be sure, though given all the pink, they could have been just as easily protesting the decision not to change the color of the Silver Line.
There was also a "Zumba flash mob" at the Reston Oktoberfest earlier this month. Given the crowds, this one appears to be a bit more mob-like.
With Halloween right around the corner, we can only hope that this group will return, the end.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Reston Association Board will once again consider a proposed $3.8 million indoor tennis complex at Lake Newport when it meets Thursday. In the planning stages since 2009, moving forward with the proposal will require the board to authorize a $75,000 referendum on the project as part of its budget deliberations for the upcoming year. A majority of Reston homeowners would have to approve the project in order for it to move forward.
The RA appears to have backed away from the idea of a larger $15.8 million bond package that would fund a broader range of improvements. Instead, it is looking at three financing proposals for the facility itself.
In a fancy, if not statistically accurate, online survey our BFFs at Patch conducted recently, a slim majority backed the idea of indoor tennis.
The RA Board meets at 7pm Thursday. The RA has more information on the project, including a boatload of presentations, here.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
A representative of Reston for a Lifetime and the Reston Citizens Association's Reston2020 has written Fairfax County Superintendent Cathy Hudgins a letter suggesting that JBG change the focus of its Fairway Apartments redevelopment to senior citizens. Doing so, Tammi Petrine argues, would "flip the script on JBG from villain to hero."
In her letter, Petrine argues that a focus on senior citizens would eliminate traffic concerns (albeit frustrate North Shore drivers stuck behind cars going 5mph with their left blinker on) and meet the growing demand for senior housing. She adds that JBG would likely profit from the shift, as senior housing typically commands higher sales prices and attracts people who
still amazingly have cash in the face of the global economic meltdown have sufficient savings to qualify for mortgages. Even the workforce housing requirements could be used to provide housing for the caretakers.
Instead of clogging traffic, seniors could use golf carts to get to and from the Macaroni Grill and other points of interest, according to our BFFs at Reston2020, who cite an AARP report suggesting that such low-speed vehicles should be accommodated in aging communities.
Given JBG's threats to litigate their way to approval, we're not exactly holding our breath. A public hearing on the project by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has been deferred until Jan. 10; if approved then, JBG would return for another showdown with the DRB. So we'll just have to wait and see if they buy into this concept of an earth-toned Sun City.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Looks like those mysterious new markings being painted on Soapstone Drive are intended for more than just turning vehicles and spandex-clad cyclists. Confidential Restonian Operative "Ed" and several vigilant Twitter machine spotters sent us these terrifying photos that remind us that once again, we are Not Alone, though the menace of the undead appears to have subsided.
Meanwhile, Twitter Operative "almonstro" shares this terrifying photo. "Graffiti has gotten pretty tough in Reston," he writes.
Stranger and stranger. We, for one, welcome our new canine overlords from above.
Friday, October 21, 2011
It's been a while since we unplugged the blender and plugged the Twitter machine into the wall socket to sample the zeitgeist of our beloved community. What did we learn?
Thursday, October 20, 2011
This trippy photo illustration depicting a family nonchalantly hiking through an idyllic glen inconveniently positioned some 600 feet directly above the Toll Road isn't from a 1970s-era progressive-rock album cover, but the latest issue of Reston: The Magazine. In case you can't wait for uniformed federal agents to deliver it to your home, it's available right now on your computer machine. Dial it in and read along with us, why don't you?
There's lots of pictures of the hawtt construction at the Great Hole of Reston, plus some stuff about the Washington West Film Festival. There's a (seriously) interesting piece about architect William Conklin, which puts to rest a burning question long debated on this "web log": Is Lake Anne truly representative of brutalism? (Spoiler alert: Conklin calls the Heron House an example of that style, but terms the Plaza as a whole "cubistic" and completely original. Okay then!)
There's also a helpful guide to "party/shared elements," reminding us of one of our favorite videos. And lest Reston: The Magazine be accused of being afraid to take on the big issues, there's an article debating tree pruning vs. tree topping.
But as always, they had us at the word search:
We found the one word that matters, the end.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The Reston Association board approved last week a sweeping series of environmental considerations that will transform Reston into a tree-covered, self-sustaining paradise, only with more midscale retail than Woodstock or Haight-Ashbury or wherever.
Actually, the considerations for future development and redevelopment projects, which were written by the RA Environmental Advisory Committee, are well-thought-out and reasonable. Which, of course, begs the question of whether developers will pay attention to them at all -- or if they'll just threaten to sue the RA if it attempts to hold their feet to the fire.
Among the considerations:
- Any new or redeveloped neighborhoods should include at least 33 percent open space. Does underground parking count as open space?
- Infrastructure should support development "now and for future generations."
- Reston's tree canopy, which was 38 percent in 2002, should grow to meet the countywide 45 percent goal by 2030 -- which should be no problem, so long as these count as trees.
- Commercial buildings should be built to LEED Gold standards, while residential multifamily developments should be LEED Silver. Neighborhoods should be built to something called "LEED-ND" standards, which presumably means that you can't place an industrial smelter in your back yard.
- Onsite energy generation should be considered where feasible. "RA should consider the sustainability value of such energy systems equally to the aesthetic and architectural criteria they already consider," the document states. Yay, we're burning our red mulch today.
- As always, the Dreaded Scourge of Reston, invasive exotic plants, should be strictly verboten.
- Any redeveloped project should be required to generate less stormwater runoff than the previous one. Which means you could build a 99-story mauvescraper in the middle of Lake Thoreau, and you'd be right as rain.
Good on the RA Board for approving these considerations. Here's hoping they, the DRB, and the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee actually try to uphold them.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The idea of extending Soapstone Road across the Toll Road to help alleviate congestion once the Wiehle Avenue Metro station is built has taken a tentative step forward. In a recent interview, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said that a Soapstone crossing study is planned for 2012, suggesting at least a concrete start date for a process that could ultimately culminate in a bridge. Of course, this is from the county that took longer than this blog has been in existence to figure out how to pay for a sidewalk along the existing stretch of Soapstone (now slated to happen sometime in 2013), so we're not exactly holding our breath.
The idea of more Toll Road crossings is going to be critical as development and bollardy goodness come to Reston. Even the fancypants Reston Master Plan Task Force With the Unprononceable Acronym (∞), which hasn't exactly been resistant to the idea of a fanciful bollard or thousand, has argued that development a half-mile or more from the Wiehle Metro station shouldn't happen until said bridges are built. Given some major developers' somewhat questionable desire to be good stewards to date, we think it's safe to say that the bridge can't get built soon enough.
At one point, the Reston Citizens Association asked the airports authority to look into building such bridges, but they've got other problems on their hands. Anyone out there good with power tools or have a few extra 2x4s lying around?
On the bright side, the fancy "road diet" on the existing stretch of Soapstone is now slated to begin being phased in this weekend. So we may be stuck in traffic, but at least we'll be able to peel off into the dedicated
suicide 7-11 turn lane and grab a Slurpee at speeds approaching Mach 3, the end.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Pink Line No More: Metro Confirms Extension Will Be Called Silver Line, If They Can Find The Money To Operate It
Exciting news! The Metro extension to Dulles and the particleboard wastelands beyond, which had put Restonians under the vaguely embarrassing threat of having to ride something called the Light Cherry Blossom Pink Line or something along those lines to their jobs downtown, will now and forever be known as the Silver Line, as God and the Pantone color wheel intended. That is, assuming that Metro can find the money to actually staff and run the trains out to Reston:
Metro is estimating it will cost about $107 million over the next three years to start what it is now officially ready to call the Silver Line.Good luck with that.
Much has been made about the nearly $6 billion price tag for building the new 23-mile Metro line. But these additional costs are the first updated glimpse of what it will take to get the line running, including hiring workers to run the trains, clean the stations and fix the escalators....
It's also not clear how Metro will ask local jurisdictions to share the cost of paying the bills associated with the new service. The budget to build the line was divvied up among the communities that will benefit from it. But Loudoun County, for example, does not currently help fund Metro, nor does it have a seat on the Metro board, so new calculations must be made to see how much it should contribute in annual subsidies.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The October edition of Reston Today opens with a view of floating vehicles that are actually intended as such. We're not in September anymore! Dulcet-toned Andy Sigle quickly hands things over to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who talks about the upcoming Oct. 22 Sustainable Reston forum, where you can "sign a pledge for your household to make simple changes." You can have my white stone when you pry it from my cold dead hands! (Actually, the focus is on transportation, home and lifestyle, environment, and buying local, but we figure that red mulch has to fit in there somewhere.)
But that's not all! There's also some harrowing combat video from our recent invasion -- kind of like Red Dawn, only with bratwurst and some pretty holiday trinkets being made for the upcoming "Christkindlmarket," which is apparently German for "spiced wine available for sale." Sweet!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Please to be enjoying this pastel-hued look of Lake Anne Village Center, courtesy of an early 1960s promotional brochure. Much as with the Dutch Masters of the late Renaissance period, the true joy of unpacking such a work -- and such a brightly colored rendering of a future Reston certainly deserves to be unpacked -- is revealed through a careful study of the details:
Note that the fountain was originally envisioned to be a lot less ziggurat-like. That's not stopping the people seated under the brightly colored beach umbrella from pointing to a couple of young roughies considering playing in it.
Judging by the tattered foresail, this sailor appears to have been caught in a maelstrom further out on Lake Anne. He's frantically begging a leisure suit-clad Don Draper to grab his rope and pull the ship to safety. Meanwhile, another businessman is deciding to relax after a long day of
Finally, note that the "art exhibit" is located in the exact spot where a different sort of exhibition was recently planned, the end.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Confidential Restonian Operative "Biker Sherlock" shared this "spy photo" of a particularly awe-inspiring piece of hardware the Reston Association has put into service near Lake Thoreau. "Apparently the Reston Association is not all talk. They are indeed serious about enforcement," he writes. "I have no doubt they are really coming after my red mulch this time."
On the bright side, maybe we'll be better prepared the next time we're invaded, the end.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Depending on who you talk to, the awesome
Silver Color To Be Determined At A Later Date Line to Reston, Dulles, and the particleboard wastelands beyond is either just nine days behind schedule... or delayed well into 2014. We'll take the over-under on that one!
Officials with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is supervising construction of the line, said Wednesday that the project’s completion date has slipped from July 31, 2013, to Aug. 9, 2013. Upon completion, the line is to be turned over to Metro to operate and maintain.Here's the best bit of hair-splitting we've heard thus far:
"Right now (completion of construction) is scheduled for August 9, 2013," [MWAA Chief Executive Jack] Potter said. "But here's what happens when construction is complete: The railroad is turned over to (Metro), which has six months of testing. So passengers will not have access to the rail until 2014."So
Dulles Transit Partners, the lead contractor on the $2.8 billion project, estimated in a progress report last month that the delay was far more: 188 days.If only there was a way for construction crews to check for the presence of underground gas lines ahead of time, maybe over the phone or the Internet or something, so they would "miss" utilities. Maybe someday a visionary will come up with such a service. Right?
MWAA officials dispute that estimate.
“They play games trying to make the case for us holding them up,” said Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the Dulles rail project.
He said MWAA is in dispute with Dulles Transit Partners, led by the construction and engineering firm Bechtel, over an electrical substation at Hunter Mill Road that will help power trains. The substations were supposed to be installed in sequence along the rail line, but crews found a gas line in the way at Hunter Mill, he said.
Meanwhile, our BFFs at Reston 2020 have also been looking at the depletion of the project's contingency fund and made some back-of-the-envelope projections of what cost overruns might do to Toll Road rates. (Spoiler alert: nothing good.)
Using the seemingly conservative monthly cost of construction reported by the Examiner--$40 million--a six-month delay would add nearly a quarter-billion dollars to Phase 1's total cost. This would mean a better than 12% addition to the period of construction and add nearly ten percent to the cost of the line, raising its price to three billion dollars.But it will all be worth it, when someday we can take the Metro system directly from Reston to Woodbridge. Wait, what?
With toll road users paying three-quarters of the extra quarter-billion price, tolls could quickly rise by up to ten percent above current MWAA projections for the full Dulles toll five years from now. In July, MWAA put fares between $4.50-$9.00 in 2016 as Dulles line Phase 2 construction begins. (Since the lower toll rate is based on the availability of federal TIFIA financing, which simply isn't going to happen according to US government officials, the higher estimate appears more realistic at this time.) At an extra $.25-$1.00 per trip for Phase 1, Reston commuters would need to ADD $1,300 to $3,500 to their annual commuting budget by 2016 if they travel through the main toll plaza.
Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) has been pushing for a feasibility study for several years to assess the cost and impact of bringing a line as far east as Woodbridge.To be fair, Woodbridge and our up-and-coming 'American City' (aka Tysons) have a lot in common: endless traffic, seas of auto dealership car lots, and some awesome retail. We say bring it on!
“Metrorail to Prince William County is one transit option we should look at as a solution to relieve congestion at a reasonable cost to consumers,” Connolly said in a statement. “We are not saying that Metro should be extended, but it is important that we study its feasibility.”
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Meanwhile, in the Anti-Reston: Herndon Snags High-End Retailer, At Least in the Lucrative Remaindered Goods Market
Sure, we in Reston may have our
Fake Downtown gritty urban core, what with its myriad of midscale chain retail options. But our neighbor to the west just scored a major retailing coup: a Big Lots!
A fancy sign at the K-Mart Shopping Center on Elden Street put up earlier this week announced this exciting addition to the area's retail landscape. Soon discerning connoisseurs of remaindered Ramen noodles and irregular T-shirts will no longer have to hoof it to Sterling, better known as the Champs Elysees of Western Loudoun. We bet the folks at Tall Oaks are just kicking themselves!
Preserving this kind of small-town character is exactly why there's a vocal contingent in Herndon that doesn't want to build a fancy kiss and ride or allow Metro-related development north of the Toll Road (although the town has at least backed off from having "just a sidewalk" at the Metro station and is proposing a more sensible plan). Will these same people wail and gnash their teeth when more upscale retail arrives in Herndon with Metro -- like, say, a Five Below? Only time will tell.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
So Reston is hosting a film festival! That's seriously exciting news, although it sounds like most of the movies on this first go-around of the Washington West Film Festival are dour fancypants documentaries that don't exactly reflect the zeitgeist of our beloved community. Since we're always here to help, we've come up with some juried selections for an authentic Reston Film Festival, courtesy of our BFFs at YouTube:
Homeowners Jury Prize:
Soapstone/Lawyers Road Jury Prize:
Jacksons/Gritty Urban Core Jury Prize:
Sprint/Nextel/Sallie Mae Corporate Relocation Jury Prize:
DRB Covenant Hearing Jury Prize:
The Transit Oriented Development of the Future Jury Prize:
We've heard that some folks using Internet Explorer have not been able to post comments in recent days. While we haven't been able to replicate the problem on the Spyglass Mosaic browser running on the Commodore 64 that powers this fancy "web log," we're told this is a bug in the Blogger commenting system that Google, which may have a couple of programmers on staff, is working on. In the meantime, accept our apologies, and if there's something you simply must get off your chest, maybe try a different web browser, the end.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Please to be enjoying yet another exciting aerial photo of Reston, this one from the end of the shag-and-disco era that was the 1970s (much larger version here). Looking east from a vantage point above Sunset Hills Drive (running from top to bottom), you can see that Reston's brownish garden apartments were by 1979 brushing up against what was left of the 'ole distillery's operations, which in turn backed up against new townhouses and behind them, the golf course and the older townhouses on Golf View Court and Links Drive near the top left of the photo. (Check out the barns, water towers, and even a distinctly non-Reston-like smokestack roughly where the one-time Fannie Mae building now stands, plus what appears to be construction on the W&OD trail, at this point still bereft of spandex-wearing cyclists.) Reston's oldest building is sadly not visible from this vantage point, though we think it's hidden in the copse of trees near the bottom of the photo.
It's a rare juxtaposition of past and present-day Reston. And we can't help but wonder: was there tension between the whiskeymakers and homemakers? Did errant golf balls wind up landing in the vats, or whatever one distills spirits in? Did the UVa marching band, hopped up on Virginia Gentleman, crash open houses in the nearby developments? Did the RA mutter under its breath about the unsightly white roofs of the distillery's buildings? We may never know, but it's still fun to think about a time when the old and the new stood side by side, and Plaza America was still virgin forest, the end.