So that whole "exchanging money for goods and services" thing may just be a passing fad. Which is why Restonians trying to start a new business at Lake Anne -- and revitalize an old favorite out yon Herndon way -- are trying fancy variations on fundraising and the age-old approach of bartering. Grab your shiny beads and
handmade artisanal leather wallets and keep reading!
First up is New Family Naturals, a Reston Farmers Market regular that has now leased permanent space at Lake Anne Plaza and is hoping to open a "community health food market and juice bar" by August. To cover about half of its estimated $12,000 in opening expenses, the owners are using a website called Indiegogo to help raise startup costs. For $1,000, you can get a juice or smoothie named after you. For $5,000, you get a free juice or smoothie every week for a year. Smaller contributions get you donations, tote bags, and other goodies.
So far, New Family Naturals have raised $1,175 towards their $6,000 goal, which isn't bad. Maybe there's something to this goodwill-and-free-grub thing after all.
Meanwhile, out Herndon way, Reston resident Wally Spencer is trying to revitalize the Tortilla Factory, which closed earlier this year. So far, he has secured the name and recipes from one of the original owners, and is now trying to barter for air conditioning repair. "Anyone who may know a vendor that has loved the Tortilla Factory and would like to see it re-open - please support us," he wrote in a fancy "web log" post. "Bartering is the way to go!!"
Good for both of them -- for small, much-loved businesses like the Tortilla Factory and unique locations like Lake Anne, creative approaches like these make sense in a way that they wouldn't for, say, the 99th franchisee of the Cheesecake Factory or whatever. In the interest of being fair and balanced, however, we'll point out that the long-vacant One Dulles Corridor office building near the intersection of Hunter Mill Road and the Toll Road was just sold for a cool $41.7 million. Details are sketchy, but it appears no smoothies changed hands in the transaction, so maybe this capitalism thing isn't completely washed up, after all.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Summer of Mauve: Reston Entrepreneurs Seek to Swap Smoothies for Startup Costs, Barter Their Way to a New Tortilla Factory
So that whole "exchanging money for goods and services" thing may just be a passing fad. Which is why Restonians trying to start a new business at Lake Anne -- and revitalize an old favorite out yon Herndon way -- are trying fancy variations on fundraising and the age-old approach of bartering. Grab your shiny beads and
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Courtesy of the state DMV, this fancy map shows the impact of vehicle accidents in our beloved earth-toned community in 2010, the most recent year in which data was available. While there were only three fatalities (indicated by red triangles), there were certainly plenty of injuries (yellow circles) and property damage (green circles) in and around Reston. Aside from a slew of fender-benders on the commuter hellscapes of Rt. 7 and the Toll Road, the takeaway appears to be to stay off of Reston Parkway, Wiehle Avenue, and, especially, Elden Street once you cross under the Great Wall of Reston and head out towards Herndon way. North Reston appears to have fewer accidents (though we're sure the ones that did happen there involved much nicer, more sought after cars than elsewhere in Reston). Oddly enough, the pre-dieted Soapstone Road and the post-dieted Personal Injury Lawyers Road both stand out as not being particularly accident prone, at least on this fancy map, the end.
(Shout out to our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, for this find.)
Update: Just hours after this "web log" was posted, we found this picture of a trash truck driving on the wrong side of a Reston street on the Twitter machines. Proof's in the pudding, etc., etc.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Someone apparently gave the Washington Post "news-paper" a "hot scoop" over the weekend. That thing in the median of the Toll Road? Turns out it's one of those new-fangled Metro stations, and because of that, there might be some construction nearby, pardon the dust, etc., etc. Who knew?
The first leg of Metrorail’s Silver Line, which would run from East Falls Church to the eastern edge of Reston, is more than a year away from opening, and already there are signs that it will spawn some of the development that advocates promised it would. But it is also clear that it may take years for some of that long-awaited growth to actually happen.At least the newspaper didn't use a big word this time.
To be fair, the Post did delve into a more pertinent issue: whether the trouble (with a capital T that rhymes with P) brewing amongst our enlightened neighbors in Loudoun County would impact the pace of development along Wiehle Avenue, though it wasn't clear if Loudoun's
Other stakeholders worry that a decision by Loudoun to walk away from the $2.7 billion project could delay and even jeopardize its completion. At the very least, it could create more congestion in Reston and especially around Wiehle Avenue, which was not intended to be the terminus for Northern Virginia’s newest rail line.On the other hand, the bollardy developers of Reston Station sound like they'd view a stalled Phase II as an opportunity:
Public officials worry that its plans for a walkable urban community could be interrupted, at least for a time, if the station becomes a magnet for commuters from the outer suburbs.
At the station, Comstock Partners has already carted away enough dirt to fill RFK Stadium from the seven-acre site where the parking garage and other development will go, spokeswoman Maggie Parker said... In addition to the garage’s 11 / 2 million square feet of space, there will be 2 million square feet set aside for a hotel, residences, and retail and commercial office space. The tallest buildings will be 22 stories high.Meanwhile, some of the locals didn't cotton to the Post's recent discovery of this place called Reston:
Parker said that Comstock will follow through with plans to develop the hotel, office and residential dwellings regardless of Loudoun’s decision. If anything, they would move faster to complete the project, she said. The firm also owns land near the last proposed Loudoun station. If Loudoun quits the project, Comstock will develop office space there.
“Everybody’s waiting and watching,” Parker said.
Watch for it in the upcoming book 101 Hilarious Newspaper Comment Section Snaps, Disses, and Practical Jokes, the end.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
We love us some architectural drawrings, and these exciting new renderings of the new $18 million Reston District Police Station and Governmental Center are pretty sweet, even if they suggest the building will be populated exclusively by ghosts, including ones wearing spectral spandex riding otherworldly cycles. There's even a canine from the Other Side. Scary!
In the summer issue of Reston: The Magazine, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins writes that the new building will be built on the west side of the current facility on the north side of Reston Town Center in order to "allow opportunities for future development of the block." The two-story building will house police-related functions on the lower level, and government-related functions on the upper level, which is full of glass to represent transparency in government (or maybe people just like natural light) and features a kitchentte, which you've got to admit is pretty sweet. The building could be open as early as 2014, according to Hudgins.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Every year, the Washington Post and Newsweek come out with their fancy "challenge index" of national high schools, prompting much hand-wringing and arbitrary comparisons that, when combined with 25 cents, may or may not buy you a dropperful of artiseanal free trade coffee from your local barista. This year, Reston's South Lakes High School ranked 308th among the nation's top 1,900 schools, or 39th in the DC area. That's up from #558 a few years back, a data point selected by the all-important "last time we remembered to check on this arbitrary annual list, which wasn't last year" criteria. Herndon High School ranked 233rd, or 31st in the region. Given that there are more than 26,000 high schools in the country, that ain't bad. But of course, we in Fairfax County have come to expect champagne wishes and caviar dreams, even from our schools.
At 104th nationally, Oakton was the top-ranked Fairfax County high school (and 10th in the region), followed by McLean, James Madison, Langley (go Unredistrictable Anglo-Saxons!), W.T. Woodson, Lake Braddock, Chantilly, Herndon, and Robinson. Centreville, Westfield, West Springfield, South County, Marshall, Stuart, Falls Church, Hayfield, Edison, Lee, Annandale, all scored lower than SLHS. About one in three SLHS students qualify for free and reduced lunch, according to the survey.
So what does all this mean? As with any piece of data rounded to three decimal points, probably less than it seems. The index is based on the proportion of graduating seniors who take college-level AP and IB exams, not test scores that "say more about a school’s average family income than its efforts to raise the level of instruction for average students," as Post education maven Jay Matthews puts it. Critics of the index argue that the rankings don't say how well students do on those exams, and point to schools on the list with high dropout rates and wide achievement gaps among students of different races and income levels. But with "rigor" being the watchword in education circles right now, it's hard to argue with the idea that schools should push more kids into IB and AP classes so they
have a slight chance at not spending the next six decades as interchangeable and disposable wage slaves one minor misstep away from irrevocable financial ruin can be "college and career ready."
More troubling is this:
Either they didn't get any data from SLHS, or we'd suggest checking the water fountains for lead.
In other words, it's all a bit of a wash. We'd frankly spend more time worrying about who the next South Lakes principal is going to be, or why kids there are getting in trouble for being on the Twitters, or what possessed someone to break into the school, the end.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Set the Wayback Machine to 2009, and in between listening to Nickelback and watching Lost on the teevee, you might have noticed that Fairfax County had gotten itself embroiled in the foreclosure proceedings of a Reston apartment complex. According to the Washington Times, the county lost $2.4 million in its investment in the Reston Glen apartment complex in South Reston -- an investment made to
ensure "web logs" make their quotas of angry comments about workforce housing help ensure affordable housing in the county. Lay it on us, old-timey "news paper":
In January 2007, Fairfield Properties bought the 200-unit Reston Glen apartment complex for $30,375,000. The company subsequently sought financing through the county to keep a fifth of the apartments affordable based on a preset rateand to rehabilitate the property.Our eyes started glazing over at the words "Goldman Sachs," but we're going to assume their involvement helped create value or something and move on. Right?
The county’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority facilitated $34 million in bond financing for the project, and also provided a $2.375 million loan from the county’s “Penny for Affordable Housing Fund,” which is funded by dedicating 1 cent of the value of the real estate tax rate.
In September 2009, Fairfield was unable to put up enough collateral after entering into an arrangement with Goldman Sachs, who bought the bonds, and so Goldman foreclosed on the property. In December 2009, Fairfield filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The $2.4 million was lost through the foreclosure, but the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) came to an agreement with the purchaser, Red Stone Partners IV LLC, to repay the note up to the full amount at 25 cents on the dollar. The catch, though, was that the money would only flow for every dollar the company got in excess of $34 million for a future sale of the property.
The property was sold in December 2010 for $28.5 million, however, so HCD wrote off the Penny Fund loan at the end of fiscal 2011. The affordability restrictions on the complex are still in place, it was rehabilitated, and the bonds were fully repaid.Here's a Fun Fact we didn't know. According to the complex's website (which has its own web log), the different apartment models are named after fancy painters -- e.g., the Monet, the Van Gogh, and the Picasso (just don't check the walls on the latter unit with a T-square). Things appear to be going A-OK there now, and the affordable units that were the reason the county got involved with the complex in the first place are still there.
So bygones? Apparently not. Some county supervisors are peeved that they were only formally notified of the loss this year, and the Washington Times, never one to miss a story about "affordable housing" or "not putting the poor in workhouses," was On The Scene. The county investment was part of a pilot project that won't be repeated, the article says, but Fairfax is now attempting to market another Reston affordable housing complex it owns -- Crescent Apartments -- as part of the broader redevelopment of Lake Anne. Bids were supposed to come in on those redevelopment proposals at some point this spring, so who knows what will come of that?
Monday, May 21, 2012
Salvaged by our BFFs at the Reston Historic Trust, please to be enjoying this photo of the still-under-constrction townhouses at Golf Course Island, which was a photographic clue for a Reston Museum contest which bears a passing resemblance to our
Friday, May 18, 2012
Who doesn't love a hawt Powerpoint slide? This fancy survey of travel habits (PDF) by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments gives them to us in spades, reminding us that "residents in densely developed communities with homes above or near stores, restaurants and offices are more likely to forgo driving to walk, ride a bike or take public transit," as our BFFs at the Washington Post put it.
This "web log" aside, we're not quite as dense as some of the other neighborhoods in D.C. and Maryland surveyed in the study, but 14 percent of Restonians' "daily trips" involve walking, which is above the regional average of 9 percent. When looking at commuting habits, though, nearly eight in 10 Reston residents drive to work alone, according to the study's preliminary findings. Way to go!
Of course, that will likely soon change:
Area developers and community planners have seen signs of such a trend for years, particularly among young adults and empty nesters who are moving to such places as Tysons Corner and the White Flint area of North Bethesda, which are morphing from sprawling suburbs into high-rise mini-cities focused around Metrorail stations.Coincidentally, we're getting one of those.
Other fun facts? Around one in three Reston households are "cell phone only," meaning they don't have one of those old-timey contraptions bolted to the wall you have to jingle the hook to get Doris on the party line. Also, there are .83 bicycles per household, meaning... the average Reston resident is slightly more likely to have a two-wheeler than a unicycle? We had trouble with statistics in college. And the median length of residence in Reston is 11 years, meaning it's taking some folks a while to graduate, the end.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
As the prevarication over Phase 2 of Metro's Silver Line continues, the
unabashed stupid careful consideration of relevant issues has spread from Loudoun's partisan, anti-labor obsessed Board of Supervisors to partisan, anti-labor obsessed Virginia lawmakers. Show them how it's done in the big leagues, Virginia lawmakers!
Virginia House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville) responded to the state’s Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton calling legislators and their staff “idiots” in a debate over funds on Metro’s new Silver Line.Nonsense! Shooting down what may be one of the last major federally funded public works projects over a right-wing talking point won't tarnish Virginia's reputation. It's about par for the course.
In a news release Friday, Toscano said... the “rhetoric used by members of the House of Delegates and now the Governor’s administration has crossed the line. Our state, once prized for its ability to be reasonable and measured in our debate, continues to have its reputation tarnished.”
In the Washington suburbs, including Fairfax and Arlington counties and Alexandria, 67 percent say the project is important, with 41 percent calling it extremely important. But in the remaining parts of the state it’s 25 percent.Have you been south of Dumfries lately? Unleaded gasoline would only get a 25 percent favorable rating in most of the state.
In case you aren't already slamming your head into your desk over all the stupid, please to be enjoying this Action McNews Team video of the statesmen-like Loudoun Board of Supervisors stone cold talking about the Silver Line:
Here's a more recent genius comment from one of the Loudoun supervisors:
Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) focused on the Lesser report finding that the county would grow regardless of Metro.Quite right. As a public service, here's what that growth would look like in both cases. First, with Metro:
“You can have the growth with Metro or without,” he said, repeating Bogarad’s assertion.
Your call, Loudoun.
Meanwhile, with all the gas being expelled over this project, very little is still being said about the real issue, which is how many thousands of quarters Toll Road drivers will need to pay for the project even if it does go forward. As Reston Citizens Association President Colin Mills points out:
But in all the back and forth about PLAs and unions and MWAA's expenses and in all the political posturing, one thing seems to be getting ignored: the fact that the majority of Phase 2's costs are still projected to fall on the Toll Road users.We love the name of the aforementioned white paper, which calls the soon-to-be-exorbitant Toll Road the "Highway of the One Percent." But nothing to see here folks! Move along, and keep an eye out for those pesky union goons!
Ultimately, the debate over the PLA is not that important. It matters to construction unions and anti-union activists, but whether or not a PLA is imposed, it will not spell the success or failure of the project. While RCA hopes that Loudoun County will remain committed to the project and that Virginia will contribute the $150 million it has promised, we have not taken a position on the PLA issue.
Similarly, while the DOT's audit of MWAA will hopefully prompt the authority to clean up some of its hazier practices, unclear ethics policies and reimbursed trips are not going to break Phase 2. RCA also has taken no position on the DOT audit, apart from the section relating to CDM Smith's report.
Where we have taken a position, and where we are focusing our energy, is on the huge projected rise in tolls on the Toll Road, and what that means for the Silver Line project as a whole and for the traffic situation in and around Reston. The PLAs may mean a lot to some elected officials, but the tolls are what matter most to Reston citizens.
Reston 20/20 recently released a white paper demonstrating how the projected rise in tolls would affect Reston and the Silver Line. They ran the numbers, and found that if the tolls rise as CDM Smith forecasts, regular users of the Toll Road will see nearly half of their anticipated real income gains over the next 40 years wiped out by the tolls. Almost half! The toll cost for regular commuters will ultimately amount to over $8,000 a year, which is a pretty hefty chunk of change.
In a call for bipartisan calm, we share this once more:
Keep clapping, kids, or we'll be forced to post this a third time!
Update: Commenter Mean Daddy D may have just won the Internet.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Alert Confidential Restonian Operative "Andrew" shared this photo of one of Google's fancy self-driving cars on Spring Street in Herndon, guiding itself ominously towards Reston. (Actually, "Andrew" reports that there was someone in the driver's seat, given that self-driving cars are currently only legal in Nevada.) All we know is that given the California plates, someone's errant Google Maps query for "Macaroni Grill near former site of nudist colony+earth tones" must have gone very wrong.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Ah, springtime on Reston's lovely network of paths and walkways: if the weirdos don't get you, the venomous snakes will.
A local veterinary clinic sent a message to its customers warning them of an "excessive amount of copperheads" on Reston paths and trails.
It has been brought to our attention that Reston has an excessive amount of copperheads seen on the local paths and trails. In North Reston a resident was on a morning walk with her Golden Retriever and came across the snake as it was sunning itself on the path; the dog was bitten. If your pet is bitten please go straight to an emergency clinic as the anti-venom must be administered as soon as possible and we do not carry this drug.Not to alarm anyone, but consider this Fun Fact about our beloved scaled neighbors:
The copperhead's initial threat display is to strike. It lashes out at an enemy as a warning. If the enemy is close enough, the fangs may penetrate the skin.The "good" news is that unlike other snakes, when copperheads bite, it's a "threat display" rather than an attempt to kill, so they inject little venom. But people and pets alike still require immediate medical attention.
All of this, of course, is just an excuse for us to share the best example of edited-for-TV overdubbing in the history of cinema:
Update: The Reston Association is reporting one copperhead sighting this year, on Lamplighter Way near the Bright Pond natural area. "No one was bitten and the snake did not offer to defend itself," the RA website says.
Monday, May 14, 2012
On the Twitter Machines, @jakehparrott shared this photo of a rare artifact of what was once Reston's main export, which dates back to the days of the drunken village of Wiehle. (Today Reston's main exports are PowerPoint presentations and processed starchy food transported home in the stomachs of Ashburnites who come to the Macaroni Grill or Uno's to "eat in the city.")
Friday, May 11, 2012
Last week, about 45 spots in the occasionally soggy Reston North Park and Ride lot were closed to allow construction on Sunset Hills Road. More specifically, Sunset Hills is being widened to create dedicated left-turn lanes at its intersections with Wiehle Avenue and Isaac Newton Square. While both of those spots have long needed left-turn lanes, as anyone who's zipped up the hill towards the latter intersection a bit too fast knows all too well, does this mean that the county's actually preparing for the crush of traffic when the 2,300-space garage at the Wiehle Avenue Metro station opens in less than two years? What other improvements are in store? Some awesome blinking lights for the entryway to the civic plaza? An Easter Island-like progression of fanciful concrete bollards? Heaven forfend, a traffic circle? A drive-through lane for a frozen yogurt shop to be built in the median of Wiehle Avenue? A flyover ramp that deposits people directly in front of the Michael's in Plaza America? The mind boggles.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Andy Sigle's dulcet tones introduce this, the May edition of RA Today. And we get right into the action, with some sweeet B-roll footage of new RA President Ken Knueven strolling through Lake Anne Plaza, apparently unmolested by performance artists. Saying he wants to see Lake Anne revitalized "for generations to come," he kicks into his priorities for the next year. Sustainability and economic viability top his list, particularly investing in existing infrastructure to make sure "we have a solid foundation on which to build our future."
"As new people and new development arrive in Reston, they may have different needs. And RA will have the opportunity to make these new neighbors feel that they can be part of the community if we've taken the time now to keep Reston viable," he explains.
With that, we're off to the courts -- the mini "Quickstart" tennis courts for the 10-and-under crowd, which is described as T-ball for tennis, or something like that. Beyond combat hang gliding, we were never much into sports.
Finally, Andy introduces us to Reston U.S.E., a "time bank barter system" that is one of Reston's oldest organizations, allowing Restonians to trade time spent
And with that, the end music rolls, providing the usual poignant reminder that another 5 minutes and 20 seconds have passed through the hourglass, where no bartering system can retrieve them as we march inexorably into our ever-narrowing futures. Happy Thursday!
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Over there on the Twitter machine, @AMcVeighConnect shared this sick schematic design of the rad skate park proposed for Lake Fairfax Park, assuming those gnarly county supervisors don't get all bogus and reject the proposal. It's been a while since we've taken the old longboard out of the closet, but we'll dig out one of our old Ocean Pacific tees and try to catch some air. Dudes!
Okay, the secret's out: The guy in the second scene of this video who launches off the stairs and into the middle of a four-lane highway? That's totally us.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Next time you get a 24-hour visa to visit Wegmans or the particleboard home of a friend who "graduated" to Loudoun County, be sure to ask the local citzenry what keeps them up at night. "Well, the value of our particleboard home has fallen at least 30 percent since the peak of the housing boom, and traffic to DC is terrible and my husband might be losing his job
strapping bombs to dolphins with a government contractor because of budget cuts, which will lead to foreclosure proceedings against said particleboard home, just like the other 12 identical particleboard homes for sale by lenders in our neighborhood, but what really upsets me is that a Project Labor Agreement will provide an undue scoring advantage during a competitive bidding process for a public works project that will give one massive construction firm an unfair advantage over another massive construction firm, and that's why we elected our local board of supervisors to focus on a national policy issue promulgated by right-wing think tanks instead of local needs" will be the invariable answer. But now that all parties involved in the Silver Line fiasco have been taken to the woodshed and this issue is likely to be taken off the table, what other excuses will Loudoun's leadership have to turn down a project that will bring $25 billion in benefits to their county?
The cost of Metrorail’s extension into Loudoun County in relation to the payoff are minuscule, and no one is making a defensible argument for the benefit not being there, Dr. Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, said in an interview Monday.Yeah, but has he heard the things that Loudoun lawmakers have been saying?
Fuller, an economist and author of more than 500 articles, papers and reports in the field of urban and regional economic development, released “The Impact of Metrorail on Loudoun County’s Economic Future,” a 14-page report that concludes the county will miss out on $25.6 billion in gross product by 2040 if Metrorail service isn’t extended to the Dulles Airport, Route 772 and Route 606.
“The opportunity cost of not extending Metrorail into Loudoun County can be measured in billions of dollars not earned, a perpetually weaker economic base, lower salaries and higher tax burdens for Loudoun County residents,” Fuller states in his report.
Phase 2 of the Metrorail Silver Line extension should be a “no-brainer,” Fuller said during the interview.
But Board Vice Chairman Janet S. Clarke (R-Blue Ridge), who hasn’t made up her mind about the Silver Line, worries that the rewards will come too slowly."No-brainer" doesn't quite cover it. Keep clapping, kids!
“My point is, can we afford to front the money, and for how long will we have to do so before we start to receive the income from the economic development,” Clarke said.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Flashback Monday: More on Reston's Homicidal Nudist Colony, Part 2: To Combat the Nudists, Virginia Plans an Erection
Our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, continues his tale of the
homicidal nudists Green Forest Club, a wholesome group that set up camp near what would someday become the South Reston Park & Ride Lot.
Last week's Flashback told the tale of the Green Forest Club -- not a bunch of eco-zealots, but a nudist colony established in 1933 off of Lawyers Road "to provide members with facilities for obtaining benefits of sunlight, fresh air, water, and exercise," according to George Rossman, one of the buffs quoted by the Washington Post. In addition, today's Restonians will be morally uplifted to know that these distant ancestors of theirs would not, according to Rossman, "countenance exhibitionism, indecent exposure, obscenity, or immorality." Glad we got that straightened out!
End of story? Butt no!
According to a breathless headline in the Washington Post "news-paper" of November 2, 1933, "State to Build 100-Foot Tower Near Fairfax Nudist Colony; It's for Fire Use, But Open to Everybody Zealous for Forest Safety"
The Post reports: "The Virginia State Forest Service is going to erect a 100-foot tower. That's not all. The tower will be within a mile of the nudist camp in Fairfax County."
"And what's more, the tower will be open to the public. It is rumored that several county residents have applied for a binocular concession -- to view the countryside, of course."
"Constructed of steel, the fire tower will stand near Pender, Va, on the Lee-Jackson highway. So far, prying eyes near the nudist camp have not been tolerated. But prying eyes 100 feet in the air are something different."
And who else would this particular fire tower's mascot be other than -- wait for it -- Smokey the Bare! Rib-splitter!
It is unclear if the observation tower was in fact ever built. But if it were, we can only imagine the dialogue between the vigilant forest rangers on duty when danger was spotted:
"Look, Jedidiah, I see smoke up there to the north near Lawyers Road!"
"Over there! See those twin peaks? Look past them and just before that valley you'll see...a burning bush!"
Friday, May 4, 2012
It's been a while since we looked at the Twitter Machine churning away next to the boiler in the basement of Restonian World Headquarters. So after we changed the air filter and added a quart of freon, we used it to, as always, sample the zeitgeist of our beloved earth-toned community:
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Some sweet aerial shots of partially constructed Silver Line tracks from the Action McNews Team Chopper can mean only one thing: Exciting play by play coverage of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood taking Fairfax and Loudoun county leaders, the airport authority and Virginia officials into the woodshed to try to save Phase 2 of the Metro Silver Line extension!
Was there a complex discussion of funding formulas, the economic imperative driving the project, and the fact that Toll Road drivers will have to start bringing sockfuls of quarters with them just to get to Tysons? Haha, no, it was all about trying to get Loudoun County to commit to its $200 million share of the project, which is being held up by anti-union rhetoric -- which is exactly what a county's board of supervisors gets elected to worry about.
As our BFFs at Reston2020 point out:
What was apparently not a topic is the 75% burden for Phase 2 construction costs that will be absorbed by Dulles Toll Road users in the current "funding partners" agreement, the most inequitable and unfair aspect of the current spending plan. That puts $17 billion in rail financing and toll road O&M costs over four decades (& probably longer) on the 100K-200K users of the toll road, and especially those who use the toll road to commute. That multi-billion dollar estimate apparently does not include needed capital investments (such as electronic tolling).Nothing to see here, kids -- move along. But keep clapping while you do!
With tolls set to double next year and triple within six years according to MWAA's estimates (others put the numbers higher), the agreement among MWAA, Loudoun, & Fairfax is not only unfair and inequitable, it is likely to stifle the very economic growth that Metrorail is supposed to stimulate.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
They may not cotton to our fancy big city ideas of stacking tall polygons near mass transit and have a sense of entitlement about the name of a Metro station that isn't even in their town, but things appear to be changing in our neighbor to the west, and we don't just mean about the townfolk becoming less obscene.
How much have things changed? The guy who said this didn't get elected mayor.
Security: Yes - and more in some neighborhoods than others. Convincing those who would prey on our residents and businesses to leave will remain tied as my number one issue. We have an excellent police force, an excellent zoning department, and citizens who care. We are a TEAM and together we need to maintain pressure on 'bad performers'.Six years ago, this subtle rhetoric might have lead to a landslide of Reagan-beats-Mondale-plus-Dukakis-plus-Jimmy-Carter-at-the-same-time-with-one-hand-tied-behind-his-back proportions. So that and some fun letters to the editor about "sanctuary cities" notwithstanding, things appear to be changing for the better next door.
On the other hand, though, Herndon's first (and only) gay bar has apparently shut down. Two steps forward, one step back, etc., etc., the end.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Game of Drones: Doubts on the Future of Silver Line Phase 2 Now Revolving Completely, Not Just Partially, Around Partisan Issues
Fancy "news papers" have started to get wind of the idea that Phase 2 of the Metro Silver Line, the E ticket ride from Wiehle Avenue to Dulles Airport and the particleboard nirvana beyond it, is now in serious trouble.
After more than 10 years of planning to add 23 miles of Metro rail line in Northern Virginia, the second part of the Silver Line project could be dead before a spade of dirt is turned.Actually, it's now mostly Loudoun County that is at a stalemate, but it won't take much to tip over this whole cinderblock Jenga game. Even if there's a wonderful kumbaya moment and the Loudoun board of supervisors agrees to approve the project by July 4, construction on Phase 2 will have already been delayed. If they don't, it could be all over except the finger-pointing.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Virginia, and Loudoun and Fairfax counties are at a stalemate over pro-union labor deals, concerns about costs and an inspector general’s investigation of the authority.
“This project will die if the stakeholders cannot get together and resolve their differences,” said Leo J. Schefer, head of the Washington Airports Task Force, a group of business leaders that supports the Silver Line.That the future of this project hangs largely on objections crafted by national right-wing anti-union organizations speaks volumes about the state of politics in local government, as the Loudoun board is arguing/posturing that the labor agreement is a "deal breaker," as Loudoun Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles District)], put it. If we're going to have a controversy, can't it at least be about the names of the stations?
“Underlying all of this is party political extremes that are being put ahead of public purpose,” Schefer said. “It’s become an emotional issue.”
Former Governor and U.S. Senate Candidate Tim Kaine came to the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce last week to urge that the project go forward.
Just a few hundred yards from the Metro station where the $5.6 billion Dulles rail line would end if the project’s second phase falls through, U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) told business leaders Friday that the Silver Line must reach the airport for the sake of the region, the state and the nation.Even Reston2020, which has been a longstanding critic of the funding and oversight of the project, is calling for a solution to the impasse that allows the project to go forward.
Kaine, the former governor who helped push the project through along with a bipartisan team of Virginia congressmen, took few partisan shots as he made his case.
Kaine credited the Bush administration, particularly the former transportation secretary, Mary Peters, for its role in awarding more than $900 million in federal aid for the project’s first phase. He even complimented his opponent in this year’s hotly contested Senate race, Republican George Allen, for his support of the project when he was in the Senate.
“That’s bipartisanship,” Kaine told a gathering of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. “As challenging as that was, we made it happen, and there’s no reason we can’t make sure Phase Two happens too.”
Reston 2020 neither wants toll road users to be stuck with three-quarters of the bill nor a Metrorail line that ends at Wiehle station in Reston. It has offered a number of alternative financing ideas for Phase 2 and encourages its prompt construction as soon as those alternatives are in place. We all need rail to Dulles and we need those who will benefit most to carry the load.Exactly. Keep clapping, kids!
Update: The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership, a coalition of business interests that are not exactly big fans of unions, is now calling on the airport authority to drop the labor agreement language. Which is great, because there are totally no other problems with the project that need to be hammered out for it to move forward.