Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Friday, January 14, 2011

Notes from the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, January 11, Dick Stillson

The meeting was chaired by Patty Nicoson, Task Force chairman, and helped by DPZ staffers Heidi Merkel and Faheem Darab.  The Task Force members and alternates there were John Carter, Kohan Williams, Bill Penniman, Mark Looney, Robert Goudie, Greg Riegle, and Nick Bauer.  If I missed anyone, I apologize.  Several documents were passed out and Richard Lambert e-mailed me to say that they have been put on the web so I don’t have to scan them to pass them on to you all.  They are at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/projects/reston/meetings_2011/meeting_jan11_steering_2011.htm
   As a kind of an introduction, Patty announced that the Phase I Metrorail construction was about 29 percent completed, and that the MWAA Board was considering alternatives to the underground station at the airport.  Bill Penniman also sent around his power point presentation on Wiehle Committee's vision and comments about an alternative put forward by Robert Goudie.  


            The first discussion was about the mission statement for the sub-committee, which includes a rather benign statement concerning implementation (the last bullet, of course). Even this was considered too much, especially the statement that “the Steering Committee would highlight mechanisms to implement these recommendations for Task Force considerations.”  Clearly, both Patty and Heidi thought this was important and wanted something about implementation in the Task Force report, and maybe in the revised Plan.  Several of the sub-committee members (at least Greg Riegle and Mark Looney) objected saying that this was too much for the Steering Committee. Heidi kind of compromised and mentioned the idea of a special implementation group from the Task Force.   I pressed her on that and she didn’t say what form an implementation group would take or when, but she definitely stated that this would be part of the Task Force work and the public (meaning us, I suppose) would be involved.  [Good for her—and Patty seemed to agree.]  Ultimately they voted and passed the mission statement with a revised paragraph on implementation.

            Then there was a discussion on the “vision statement” and the planning principles.  Yes, they still haven’t agreed on the principles.  Most of the discussion was wordsmithing and several members wanted to combine several of the points because they said similar things, for example, combining points discussing concentrating development at the transit stations and the principles of TOD.  They still didn’t agree and yet another draft will be written—by DPZ staff. 

            Bill Penniman, co-chair of the Wiehle Committee, gave a slide show presentation that was essentially a rebuttal to Robert Goudie’s views, apparently given in the previous meeting, that Wiehle Ave. should concentrate almost entirely on residential development and leave the commercial and public sector development to the Town Center.  Bill’s argument was that this would violate TOD principles which emphasized mixed use development in each station.  He argued that conceiving of Wiehle and Reston West as bedroom communities to feed Town Center would increase traffic in Reston and provide a very unbalanced development in the corridor.  His vision was more like a linear city along the metro line.   Robert argued back that he did not mean to imply only residential development at Wiehle—for example, he agreed with educational institutions at Wiehle—but that the Town Center should be the primary “downtown” of Reston.  John Carter suggested doing away with the phrase “downtown” for the Town Center.  [My view is that the Town Center should the primary focus for commercial and high-rise residential, but that there should be mixed development at all the stations—both of the extreme positions make little sense.]

            Finally there was a short discussion of the “Steering Sub-Committee Review Checklist,” a list of points the sub-committee should look at in reviewing each of the station sub-committees’ reports.  The idea is to establish a procedure with which the Steering Sub-Committee can reconcile and synthesize the various other sub-committees’ reports.  They didn’t get into any detail concerning the checklist, but agreed that it was important and would be a focus of the sub-committee’s work.

Dick Stillson

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