News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Will Reston's Old Pony Barn Become a Memorial Garden? Depends on the NIMBYs, er, Neighbors

Sad MLPWe've written before about the earlier, more genteel Reston which was home to a pony barn that was supposed to transform South Reston into an equestrian paradise to rival Middleburg, only with better midscale retail. Sadly, the barn collapsed early on, and the only remnants of Reston's horsey-would-have-been-future are street names like Steeplechase and Elmer's whatnot.

Now the Reston Association is looking at plans for the park and pavilion that sit where the Pony Barn once stood, and one suggestion on the table is constructing the memorial garden that was never originally planned in Reston because Bob Simon was famously not a fan of the funeral industry. (No truth to the rumor that this unforeseen consequence of not having an appropriate place to mourned lost loved ones began the talk of a proper memorial garden.)

But we digress. Earlier this summer the Initiative for Public Art Reston (IPAR) approached the RA board about the possibility of considering the Pony Barn Pavilion site, and the former riding ring site, for a memorial garden, which is part of IPAR's own master plan for Reston. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

The IPAR Memorial Garden committee was formed in 2011 after the death of IPAR supporter Ann Rodriguez. It envisions a site with natural beauty, wooded elements, as well as walkways and benches. Once the project is awarded a site, the next steps will be to raise money to fund the project, as well as hire a landscape designer.
As with other fun projects of late, some Pony Barn neighbors are complaining because -- wait for it -- of concerns about traffic and other impacts of a memorial garden site. (Though, to be fair, a memorial garden would be a much quieter neighbor than, say, a dog park or a boccedrome.)

A new working group appointed by the RA Board will hold its first meeting on Monday at 6:30pm. Details and a form to collect input are here.

By December, the working group hopes to have a proposal to submit to the RA Board and (shudder) the DRB for approval. Given that our previous suggestions seem to have fallen on deaf ears, we're guessing they won't take our own humble suggestion seriously now:



  1. I'm going to have to vote no on the memorial garden at the Pony Barn. I certainly think neighbors who live in the area should have the final vote. Seems more appropriate in another area, like a memorial at one of the lakes or something with a water feature or fountain. Not by a pool where kids can be heard screaming all summer--not very memorial appropriate in my opinion.

  2. Pshaw, Anon. I can't think of a better place to be laid to rest than within earshot of the living enjoying life. And except for the occasional wailing of the Inconsolable as a Loved One joins the Memorial Community, you couldn't ask for a quieter use of land surrounding your home. (Unless, that is, you live by Chestnut Grove Cemetary in Herndon, in which case, you have to put up with all of the Stoners from HHS toking up by their favorite mausoleum.)

    Still, if this doesn't work out, we can always set up a Viking Funeral Boat business on Lake Anne. I'm sure a lot of Restonians of Nordic would like to avail themselves of a pyrrhic fond farewell.

    1. Don't forget, the Pony barn is right next to Hunter's Woods Elementary. Nice to have the kids walking to school each day next through a cemetary...

    2. No one's suggesting this become an actual cemetery, where bodies are buried. That's more of Herndon's bag, really.

    3. Dumfries Elementary School is spitting distance from Dumfries Public Cemetery. The cemetery long predates the school. A two to five minute walk:

    4. Herndon Elementary is within spitting distance of Chestnut Grove as well.

      Graveyards and Memorial Gardens are a fact of life ...and death. So far as I'm concerned, the people who live near the property could make a better argument out of decreased property values than out of use.

  3. Wilbur, please bury me at the Pony Barn.

  4. Reston has an abundant number of quiet and beautiful natural places for Restonians to reflect and find contemplative time. Changing a community play/gathering/celebration space to a quiet whatever-you-choose-to-call-it place is not a needed or fair change to those who enjoy the space as it is. And for RA to insist it won't be a "cemetery" is concerning, as so many comments and articles are focused on the lack of a final resting place. Reston was designed without one---so be it.

  5. I suggest a mixed-use, "bocce & bye-bye" future for the park.

    But seriously, I agree with the first comment posted here, in that a perfectly pleasant park with the means to host picnics should not be removed for the sake of a somber memorial what, exactly? And for whom? Does the pony barn park evoke memories of mourned friends, spouses, or pets ..and should it? The site is so far off the beaten path, that it hardly defines "Reston" for our shared identity, yet this will be the location to come together and grieve? How incredibly unpleasant. Obviously the park will lose any playing field or "fun" to it, as you cannot simply devote a corner of the space to grief and then have a fun time with the rest of it. So, this will simply end up a disused park, at a time when retaining our small park spaces is more important than ever. And as our fellow Restonians rent that small covered space for birthday parties and the like, is it in our collective best interests to remove a venue?

  6. I think it's unfair to limit the issues with a memorial garden (death garden as my husband likes to call it) at the Pony Barn to simply "traffic." That is one of many issues with the proposal. The biggest issue is that it was the ONLY proposal for the currently open, multi-functional, family oriented space. Instead of having multiple proposals for the original working group to review, the RA board and IPAR were set to create the designs for a memorial garden while the "working group" was originally assigned 2 meetings, both of which were presumably to just approve IPAR's proposal.

    This is a family area, with lots of young kids. This is a park with a very small parking situation. There are many places in Reston to reflect upon the lives of those who would be remembered in a memorial garden. There are many things that can be done with the Pony Barn Recreational Area. To be fair to the residents we need to investigate everything from updating but not making changes to reinvigorating the space to making radical changes (like a memorial garden). But mostly, we need to as the residents who will live around the area, and that includes Dogwood residents, what they would like the area to become. Making radical changes without asking those directly affected is just poor community management any way you slice it.

  7. RA common ground should not be used for religious purposes. There are plenty of churches, synagogues and temples in Reston for quiet contemplation and memorial services. St. Anne's has a memorial garden, as I think several other do. Nice thought; wrong solution and wrong jurisdiction. Keep Church and Private things separate. If you want a cemetery, buy some land adjoining Reston. Sacred ground yes; common ground no.

  8. Umm I think the people that live near it get the final vote. They are the ones that have to deal with it. Maybe the people that live near it have kids. There is a pool and elementary school and familys near it. Not the best place for a memorial garden.....


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