From our Facebook BFFs at Volunteer Reston, please to be enjoying this somewhat shocking display of force from the weekend's holiday parade. At the risk of outing our geeky side, we wonder if perhaps our very own
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
From our Facebook BFFs at Volunteer Reston, please to be enjoying this somewhat shocking display of force from the weekend's holiday parade. At the risk of outing our geeky side, we wonder if perhaps our very own
Monday, November 28, 2011
Via the fancy, and very interesting, Daily Postcard blog comes this oddly threatening -- and vaguely anachronistic -- message from 1909:
Dear Friend"Your finish if you go back to Reston" sounds like a threat, doesn't it? Or, given that the postcard was written in 1909, maybe it's a veiled warning about attempting to defy the laws of physics. But then look at the front of the card:
I have been to church every night I could and I think I have got my sins forgiven very well by this time. I feel like a chritan any way. I don't no how I look. Well I sopose to-morrow will ind your time in Roseburg for a while. Well of course you can do as you can do as you please but I see your finish if you go back to Reston. I will sing off hoping to hear from you soon. Alee P.
Okay, now we're mostly just creeped out. Maybe that's just how they do things in Manitoba.
Of course, this still only ranks second in pathetic Reston-themed mash notes.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
As Thanksgiving draws near, please enjoy this legitimately touching family reunion at South Lakes High School last week, when Air Force Col. Stephen Williams returned from a stint overseas and surprised his daughters in the school cafeteria. He'll return to South Korea after Thanksgiving. Safe travels, all, and happy Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Like an 80s hair metal band, the Reston Association is fighting
for its right to party to take the lead on developing recreational amenities for the influx of new residents to the area. So maybe we will get a fun glassed-in rollerdrome arena/juice bar, or maybe at least a couple of indoor tennis courts, after all!
In a letter to Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins sent last week, the RA Board requested that all recreational "proffers," essentially piles of cash pledged by developers to help the county develop recreational facilities, be given to the RA instead of the county or its park authority, writing:
It is RA's facilities and infrastructure that will be directly impacted by the increased demand that will come with new development. Further, it is RA's facilities and infrastructure that will required increased maintenance and capacity; developer proffers would make these improvements possible.The RA Board's hesitation on moving forward with a referendum on the proposed indoor tennis facility at Lake Newport makes a lot more sense in this light. It'll be a lot easier for folks to vote for big capital projects if they know that a big chunk of the cost will be funded by proffers instead of increases in their annual assessments.
Credit where credit is due: The RA Board previously pushed hard to make sure that new residents in the commercial areas adjoining the Toll Road -- which formerly were barred from residential development -- would become members of the RA. That apparently will be the case with the residential components of the Reston Station development. Given that, the RA should also get its share of the proffers from developers; here's hoping that the county agrees.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Here's an interesting find from the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine: A brochure for a fancy "Volksmarch" held in Reston back in 1985! Unlike more recent marches with a German theme, "volksmarches" were relaxed community hikes with no military presence -- though the die-hards did wear patches and get little passbooks stamped when they finished their
Apparently the theme was "Reston: A New Town With Old Trees," and a contest was held to replace the question mark in the center of the logo with something more Reston-y. We're guessing there were images of trees involved and that the color scheme was appropriately earth-toned.
As a brief aside, your Restonian remembers walking in this very Volksmarch back in 1985, most likely under protest while listening to a fancy off-brand Walkman with a U2 cassingle in it or something, the end.
Friday, November 18, 2011
A referendum asking Reston residents to vote on building a $3.8 million indoor tennis facility at Lake Newport has been taken out of the Reston Association budget for next year. The referendum, which is required for the RA to move forward with the project, could still be scheduled if the RA Board decides to put the idea to a Reston-wide vote, though we're now likely looking at 2013 before that happens -- if it happens at all.
RA Director Mike Collins explained on the fancy "Face Book":
The referendum was scratched for budgeting purposes, but we can find money to pay for it if we decide to move forward. No firm date for a decision on that. Since 2009, RA has spent about $14K on preliminary design work and financial consultants.In the meantime, RA assessments will rise $25 to $565 next year. The increases, board members said, are necessary to maintain Reston's existing infrastructure. As Director Cheryl Beamer said during last night's budget meeting:
"If the money is not there, we may get into a situation where a pool has to go without a jacuzzi if it is not in the budget. That is not how Reston is run. Since I have been on the board, there has not been a vision of anything new in Reston. We are barely taking care of what we have now. Ten dollars now could save us from raising fees $40 a couple of years from now - or closing a pool because we couldn't possibly raise fees enough to cover the cost."People will undoubtedly complain about the assessment increase, but we think the RA needs to continue looking ahead, not just
Thursday, November 17, 2011
If you've noticed a couple of people in day-glo wetsuits scrambling around Lake Anne this week, don't worry -- it's not a dress rehearsal for Cirque du Soleil Meets The Navy Seals. The Reston Association is conducting repairs on the "concrete spillway riser," that big floating thing near Wiehle Avenue, and to do that, they had to lower the lake's water level by several feet, presumably by unplugging the big rubber stopper at the bottom of the lake.
The timing works well. Since the jet-age RELAC system has been shut off for the winter, there won't be a sound reminiscent of a toddler trying to suck up the last bit of an ice cream float with a silly straw. And if the water level doesn't rise,the lakebed could be used as satellite parking for the Wiehle Avenue Metro station, saving precious minutes for Loudoun cut-through commuters.
The RA says the work should be done by next week, and water levels should return to normal about six weeks afterwards. In the meantime, "this lower water level offers an opportunity to repair docks and bulkheads and perform shoreline maintenance," the RA helpfully points out. "Remember, any new construction, or alteration to existing structures, requires approval by the Design Review Board under our protective covenants." Happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Hey, remember that time a "master plan task force" with an unpronounceable acronym (§) came up with fancy color-coded maps for the areas around Reston's soon-to-be-built Metro stations, which included such fanciful things as "urban street grids" and "open space?"
Yeah, that was awesome. Well, after months of relative silence, the task force is shifting its focus to "Phase 2" of the master planning process: figuring out what to do with our
righteous stucco strip malls village centers. There's been lots of talk about what this means, including questions about what the masterplanning process could do to existing neighborhoods. As Reston2020 BFF Terry Maynard said in a letter to the Connection:
I have heard a wide range of views about what these neighborhoods and village centers should become in the 21st Century. Some believe neighborhoods are old after being around for 40 years and should be re-developed. Others, including our founder and RTF member Bob Simon, believe the village centers should become community focal points as he initially visualized them, with large pedestrian-friendly park-like plazas and denser mixed-used development (mid- to high-rise apartments/condos above ground floor shopping). There has been talk about expanding the boundaries of the village centers as well. Some think all Reston should be at high densities while others have suggested further limiting the re-development of neighborhood properties—although not as stringently as historical preservation restrictions might require. Others have suggested we need to look more at Reston infrastructure issues, including local transportation (streets, buses, biking, walking), schools, recreation, parks and open spaces, natural areas, cemeteries, and so on.It's an emotional issue, and the reality is that there's considerable appetite for redevelopment. As Kathy Kaplan put it in a letter published by Patch:
The point is there are a lot of ideas out there—some of which you may find attractive, others that you may find literally unlivable.
In Oct. 2008, the county launched the master plan revision process at a community meeting attended by about a hundred community leaders. At that meeting county planner Heidi Merkel said that many of Reston’s 40-year-old neighborhoods were old, run down, and in need of redevelopment.Reston Association officials have repeatedly stressed that this kind of wholesale redevelopment cannot happen without approval of property owners and the RA itself. As RA President Kathleen Driscoll McKee said late last year:
About a year and a half ago I attended a Reston 2020 meeting when discussion turned toward the redevelopment of the older neighborhoods. A former Fairfax County planner attending the meeting said with great authority, “The old clusters have to go.”
About a year ago I brought the issue up with a Reston Association board member and was told, also with great authority, that the old clusters would be replaced with eight-story apartment buildings.
While it is conceivable that a developer could come in and buy a neighborhood in its entirety, the reality is that s/he would have to pay each and every property owner fair market value for the properties and all owners would have to agree to the sale. Any redevelopment would have to go through the Design Review process in Reston, and that trumps all other approvals.At least for now, though one developer already seems bound and determined to challenge the authority of the DRB to get its own sideways mauvescraper built as part of Reston's first wide-scale residential redevelopment. Which is why, as the planning process began to shift towards Phase 2, there was talk about trying to put less of an emphasis on the voice of developers. We don't know how successful those efforts were, but it's definitely a reason why community members should stay involved in this process as it starts hitting closer to home.
Like it or not, development is coming to Reston, and it's not all going to be concentrated around the Metro stations. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- walk through Tall Oaks
The community meeting that kicks off Phase 2 of the master plan process is at 7pm tonight at South Lakes High School.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
As we begin this monthly edition of fancy video news from the Reston Association, we're relieved to see that dulcet-toned Andy Sigle is wearing appropriate protective eyewear and a reflective vest as he stands a precarious five feet away from the edge of the Great Hole of Reston. "Construction is well under way," Sigle explains, as he doesn't step dangerously close to the precipice. As the construction superintendent rattles off the latest Fun Facts about the massive Reston Station project -- 1.1 million hours of employment! 35,000 truckloads of dirt! 10,000 cubic yards of concrete! 1.8 million pounds of rebar! -- we notice that the lowest
"Election season is in the air," Sigle intones ominously, alluding to the fact that next year Reston voters will elect three new members of the Reston Association Board of Directors. Which means it's time for us to check the box that the Blogger machine came in for the instruction manual that tells us how to turn off the commenting on this here "web log." We think it's the knob right next to the vertical hold.
Finally, we learn something about "Neighborwoods Month," which has to do with trees and weeds and whatnot, which seems like the perfect time for us to wrap up our time on the Reston-themed YouTubes and watch something more constructive, the end.
Monday, November 14, 2011
From Silas Marner to A Shore Thing, all great literature shares the same building blocks that, when put together by the hands of a masterful writer, combine to create beloved stories that endure for generations. Dating back to 1985, the book celebrating Reston's 20th anniversary has them all -- compelling characters, conflict, resolution and ultimate redemption. We referenced this excellent book in this "web log's" inaugural post, but it's become quite hard to find! In case you don't have the $226.49 needed to buy a mint copy from Amazon, consider this typewritten outline the equivalent of the Cliff's Notes. Here's the introduction:
Echoes of Gatsby -- we've got goosebumps! When they make the movie, we could totally see Robert Redford in the starring role. That "outer beltway" never came to fruition, but we're still ready to start turning some pages. Now for some exposition!
Time to establish conflict:
Love the comparison between Hunters Woods and Napoleon's Eastern Front. But then finally, success -- and vindication!
Nice work, Tom and Peter. When the sequel spanning from 1985 to the present day is finally published, we can only hope they manage to work the phrase "Electric Boogaloo" into the title.
Actually, this morning's two-alarm fire at South Lakes Village Center apparently started in the roof above Hour Eyes, but Cafesano and most of the businesses on that side of the shopping center are closed because the power is out. Our BFFs at Patch have details and some exciting pictures of all the hook-and-ladder action, if you're into such things.
Update: Cafesano remains closed, but is offering takeout, catering and curbside service from its Market storefront a few doors down from the restaurant. "The restaurant suffered considerable damage from the fire and we suspect that it's going to be a couple of weeks before we're able to
re-open," an email sent to customers said. "In the meantime, we'll do our very best to serve you from The Market."
Fire officials now say the restaurant's pizza oven is apparently the cause of the blaze, which has also shuttered Hour Eyes.
Friday, November 11, 2011
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced late Thursday night that there's now a a final financial deal in place that will allow Phase 2 of the Metro
Cherry Blossom Pink Silver Line to extend to Dulles Airport and the particleboard Valhalla beyond it.
“I’m really pleased we were able to keep the project under $3 billion and that we were able to put some additional federal dollars into the project,” LaHood said. “Virginia realized this project is important to Northern Virginia and most important to the region.”As part of the deal, Fairfax and Loudoun counties will get federal loan assistance for their stake in the project, as will the airports authority. Virginia will also pony up $150 million. The airport station will indeed be built above ground, and private-public partnerships will fund parking garages, various associated parallelograms, and the Rt. 28 station.
“I’m on cloud nine,” LaHood said.Less happy will be Toll Road commuters, who according to our BFFs at Reston2020 will still get stuck with "more than half of the total Silver Line cost and three-quarters of any cost increases." We're going to have to buy some new couches to dig around for change in!
Joking aside, the only thing that's been more frightening than the escalating costs and fiscal brinksmanship enveloping the Silver Line project is the prospect that the second phase might not be built, planting the terminus of the Silver Line smack dab in the middle of Reston, leading to commuter gridlock, congestion, dogs and cats living together, etc. So, um, count us on cloud five, maybe six.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
In the interest of being fair and balanced, here's a rebuttal:
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Apparently so, though turnout apparently ranged between 6 and 40 percent. To be fair, the school board races were more competitive, and maybe even about some of those "issues" we keep hearing about. While incumbents largely reigned supreme on the county Board of Supervisors, it'll be "fun" to see what a more conservative state legislature looks like. "Fun," assuming you consider laws to "require doctors to offer anesthesia to a fetus before an abortion; allow guns in parks, colleges and libraries; mandate drug screening for welfare recipients; and permit employers to fire workers for not speaking English" to be "fun."
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Yesterday's announcement that global infrastructure behemoth Bechtel is moving 625 jobs from Maryland to Reston Town Center is great news, given recent losses of other corporate headquarters in our gritty urban core. But while they've certainly got their hands full with the Silver Line, we're thinking maybe Bechtel should use our earth-toned community as a testing ground for some of their other infrastructure work. Why bother with those silly earthen dams when we can have something like this at the foot of Lake Audobon? Or maybe a special Reston-themed Chunnel that would allow us to drive directly to Columbia without having to see the blighted, non-planned communities in between? Or perhaps they could see what might happen if the tolls exceed 53 Leu on the Transylvania Motorway?
Here's why this is good news, even if we don't get a shiny new building like this:
California-based Bechtel Corp. announced Monday along with Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) that it would move 625 jobs from Frederick to Reston Town Center, where they will fill nearly 200,000 square feet at 12011 and 12021 Sunset Hills Road. Bechtel’s rent checks, highly sought after by other Virginia landlords (particularly in Tysons Corner) will be addressed to Boston Properties, which developed the buildings in 1999.It's also significant because, as with Accenture's departure from RTC to a former car lot, overall trends appear to be shifting away from massive office space and towards more "hoteling" of employees and the use of
With the federal government dramatically cutting back leasing and new construction, finding large tenants to fill office buildings is becoming increasingly difficult. The pool of major tenants shrunk further when Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announced last month that Bechtel’s power division would keep 1,250 jobs in Frederick.
Despite its success, some real estate types think Reston Town Center may be losing some its luster, with Tysons Corner dominating discussions in Fairfax County and properties along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor attracting record-setting prices.
The core lesson from the Accenture headquarters departure experience appears to be that we need to re-think the mix of uses (and maybe the high densities) currently planned or being considered for the Dulles Corridor. If Accenture is a harbinger of things to come, we will need to see greater growth in residential space and less growth office space than currently envisioned at both Tysons and Reston and maybe points farther west. Moreover, we will have to re-think the needs of the many new residents in these areas, including the nature of the local retail shopping experience (relatively fewer business-oriented restaurants, more pharmacies and supermarkets, for example), their access to cultural and recreational facilities, and (especially in Reston) the availability of public open space—largely parks and natural areas—to sustain and enhance the quality of life experience in this premier planned community.It remains to be seen if the Bechtel move is bucking this larger trend, or if the growth of the
According to another report, the Bechtel employees moving to Reston have average salaries of $125,000. Maybe we should drop this "web logging" thing and spend a bit more time learning AutoCAD.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Our BFFs at the Reston Museum are now selling Reston-themed coffee in two exciting flavors: Sumatra or Lake Anne blend (is that extra bit of seasoning stagnant lake water?) It's a great fundraising idea (order form is here), but it's far from the only consumer product that bears the name of our earth-toned community.
Apparently, "Reston" doesn't just mean "coffee" to the minds of sophisticated consumers. We can almost see Don Draper sitting behind a two-way mirror, smoking a cigarette with an inscrutable look on his face as he listens to a focus group answer the burning question: Close your eyes. What comes immediately to mind when you think about "Reston"?
Only this is what they came up with:
That's right... these lovely rooster-themed "Reston Lloyd Rectangular Stove Burner Covers," perfect for the slightly obsessive-compulsive cook in the family who keeps burning the wool cozies he or she knits for the stovetop.
If that doesn't speak to the practicality that comes to mind when you think of jet-age air conditioning and other signature bits of Restonalgia, this lovely collection of Reston Self-Adhering Foam Pads can be yours for a mere $34.00! "Designed to protect against skin damage from splints, casts, and prostheses, it may be used as a padding for such devices as beds, chairs, and operating tables," the marketing copy enthuses, before warning not to use them as a "pressure-reducing device." Alrighty then!
Then there's this fancy "Reston Stationary Counter Stool," perhaps a tribute to our community's well-documented love of objects upon which to sit. We're really not sure.
Finally, what earth-toned home would be complete without this conversation-starter? These "mini-mousepad coasters" serve as a place to rest computer mice and cocktails with equal aplomb, and double as a fitting tribute to our doppelganger to the north. Get yours in time for the holiday season, or at least before the giant ice floes render Manitoba and its mini-mousepad coaster factories inaccessible for the winter, the end.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Right-thinking Twitter Operative "P5K6" sent us this photo of the Wiehle Avenue Metro station construction, noting that the one exterior wall rising from the concrete superstructure appears to be within appropriate earth-toned standards -- somewhere between Russet Brown and Toasted Chestnut on the color wheel, if you ask us. So while the Silver Line project has drawn the ire of everyone from lawmakers to the Reston Citizens Association, we can sleep well knowing it won't also fall afoul of the DRB, the end.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
A 23-story mauvescraper proposed to be built in the middle of the Spectrum development on Reston Parkway continues to make its way through the planning process, with its next stop a visit to the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee on Nov. 21.
RTC Partnership, LLC has filed a Planned Residential Community (PRC) Plan to remove the current office building known as the “Town Center Office Building” at 1760 Reston Parkway, and redevelop a 23 story, Class A mixed use office and retail building. The building will consist of approximately 413,700 square feet of office uses and approximately 5,200 square feet retail and restaurant use, with a Floor Area Ratio of 4.08.The above-ground component of that "structured parking" will include 1,084 spaces hidden behind that "context sensitive facade treatment," plus another 24 surface spaces. Gone is the earlier reference to a "green roof top park," although the building would be built to LEED Silver specs.
Parking for the proposed building will feature both below and above grade parking spaces. The above ground portion of the parking garage will sit atop retail uses and will be screened with a context sensitive façade treatment that will be harmoniously [sic] in the office structure.
The project sits in the middle of -- but remains separate from -- the much larger, Macaroni Grill-destroying Spectrum redevelopment project, which is itself making its way through the approval process. Approval to redevelop this particular building with no height restrictions was given all the way back in 1978, when the tallest structure in Reston was still the International Center across the Toll Road. Hopefully planners will ensure both projects mesh nicely with each other, so this 23-story building doesn't stick out like a sore thumb -- or another, less fortunate digit.