Lake Anne's Washington Plaza in Summer

Lake Anne's Washington Plaza in Summer

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Officials Ponder Future of Fairfax County, Centreville Patch, June 29, 2012

Environmental sustainability was a hot topic Wednesday night at the final meeting of the county's 'Evolution of Fairfax' series.

The future prosperity of Fairfax County lies in environmental consciousness, alternative energy and “transitional thinking,” said architect Doug Carter during Wednesday night’s final installment in the Evolution of Fairfax lecture series.
“Collectively, we are messing up our planet,” said Doug Carter, a forward-thinking architect who has lived and worked in the area for 40 years. “I happen to think that global warming is real and a very imminent danger to all of us. We need to change the way we do things, and we need to generate new alternative energy sources.”
Carter was one of three speakers who capped off a series of panel discussions that covered Fairfax County’s past, present and future. . . .
Why isn't this kind of creative, environmentally and community friendly thinking being applied in the ongoing DPZ leadership of the Reston Planning Task Force? 

Instead, the Reston task force is being led by the County's Planning Staff to ever higher density of office development based on unrealistic forecasts of future growth, unrealistic oversized assumptions about how much space is needed for employees and residents and undersized assumptions about space for recreation, education, nature, & transportation, and absolutely no consideration of the implications for this growth on the sustainability, livability, mobility, and aesthetics of what was a planned community. 

And, yes, the key Board culprits who are moving Reston in this direction, Chairman Bulova and our Supervisor Hudgins, were there to cheer lead this set of panel discussions.  Now they are back to work cramming as much development into Reston (and Tysons) as they can.   And when push comes to shove and the Board is given the opportunity to reject the outlandish plan that DPZ is preparing, we all know how these two will vote.  They are of the "more is better" school of government. 

Click here to read the rest of this Centreville Patch article.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

On the Docket: SVES, Office Tower, Reston Patch, June 28, 2012

Sunrise Valley renovations and 23-story office building slated for decision at Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is scheduled to make a decision on two Reston projects at Thursday's regular meeting.
The 23-story tower planned for 1760 Reston Parkway is on the docket. Read more about the project here.
The RTC Partnership is seeking to demolish the existing five-story "Reston Times" office building and construct a 23-story, 418,900 square foot mixed-use office building, to include office (413,700 SF), retail uses (2,600 SF) and/or an eating establishment (2,600 SF). . . .
Although RA's DRB and the Reston P&Z Committee have endorsed the huge tower to be built where the old Reston Times or Town Center Office Building is, the Reston Task Force's Town Center Sub-committee chair, the Association of Reston Clusters & Homeowners, and RCA's Reston 2020 Committee have all objected to the proposal on grounds that it is inconsistent with Reston's planning principles, undermines the residential-focused mixed use proposed for the North Town Center area around the Spectrum Center, and is massively too dense for the setting.  

Click here for the rest of this article. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Column: High Density Without Infrastructure Not a Problem, John Lovaas, Reston Connection, June 26, 2012

The following is an excerpt from John Lovaas' latest commentary on the Reston Task Force:
. . . On June 12, the Task Force convened to receive a vital transportation analysis (due 18 months earlier). The analysis was to be a framework for part one of the Task Force’s work within which to shape future land uses and limits for the areas around three new rail stations. Instead, it was presented in a preliminary, incomplete state well after the Task Force has formulated, but still not adopted, high density land-use plans for the Dulles Corridor/rail line area. It is a classic case of building a cart—sort of—to precede a horse with two bad legs.
The fundamental conclusions of the half-baked analysis are that if all of the transportation infrastructure conceived of by planners were in fact completely built and ready to go within the 20-year time horizon of a new Master Plan with visions of high density sugar plums, it would be insufficient to support the massive new construction. That is, traffic would be congested at levels the staff could not adequately express. And there’s another catch! As the transportation and planning staffs of the county were forced to admit, the bulk of the infrastructure is not likely to be even approved for funding much less built within the planning horizon. The infrastructure envisioned but not likely within 20 years includes four more crossings of the Dulles Access Road/rail line at South Lakes Drive, Soapstone Drive, Town Center, and Rock Hill Road. . . .
The key point is that Mr. Lovaas' assessment is on the mark.  The key assumption--and one that is truly unlikely--is that the area along the Dulles Corridor will actually grow at the stupendous rates the scenario ("Scenario E" for those who are keepin track) allows.  I would add only that three task force members, including myself, once again highlighted the need to include implementation and phasing considerations--such as tying development to in-place infrastructure--in the planning process.  The County staff still refuses to do so and, in this writer's opinion, that jeopardizes the viability of the plan proposal even after two and a half year's  of work. 

I strongly encourage you all to read the rest of this article here.  It shows how divorced from reality the Task Force effort is becoming.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cast Your Vote in the RCA Election! Colin Mills, RCA President, Reston Pach, June 20, 2012


I told you a couple of months ago that it was coming.  You may have read the article in Patch about it.  And now, I am very pleased to announce officially: as of this Sunday, June 24th, RCA online voting is here!

As for the voting process, it is simplicity itself: Just go to the RCA website, and starting on Sunday, there will be a big button at the top of the page labeled "VOTE!"  When you click that button, you'll be taken to a page containing information about voting, as well as short bios of all the candidates. On that page, you'll be able to click a link that takes you to the ballot.  Verify your residency, vote for your preferred candidates, click "Done" and your vote is recorded!

You can do all this from the comfort of your home or office.  You don't have to worry about trekking out to the Reston Festival in the height of summer.  You don't have to track down RCA's booth to cast a ballot in person.  You can vote when it's convenient for you: on your lunch hour, in the morning before work, or in the middle of the night.  It's never been easier to vote in the RCA election!

Why have we done this?  Well, it was partly out of necessity, as the Reston Festival (our usual voting venue) isn't happening this year.  But even before we knew that, we were already moving toward implementing online voting.  This is the 21st century, and we want to meet our citizens where they are.  People are transacting more and more of their daily business online, and we felt that it was time to take our elections in that direction.

As I mentioned in my April blog post on the subject, making this transition had required a lot of RCA effort.  When RA and RCC instituted online elections, they hired vendors to handle the technical side of things.  That's a luxury we can't afford, so we went the do-it-yourself route. A lot of RCA members devoted a lot of time and effort to this cause, and I am grateful for it.

Our tech gurus, Gary Walker and Hank Blakely, spent countless hours shaping the requirements, gathering input on how the ballot should look and what it should include, designing the ballot and candidate bios, and rolling them out.  We would not have been able to accomplish this without their expertise, patience, and dedication.

Our Election Committee (Gary, Diane Lewis, Debra Eastham, and CJ Basik) also deserve a lot of credit.  They reviewed Gary's requirements and provided input, generated important election documents, resolved tricky procedural questions, produced and promoted our call for candidates, and publicized the election.  Our tech guys made it possible to vote online, but it's our Election Committee members that will make this election a success.  Thanks to all of them for their efforts!
And now that I've explained how we've made online voting a reality, I'd like to urge all of you reading this to cast your ballot.  Your votes will determine who is serving on the RCA Board but also, by casting your vote, you're expressing your support for RCA and its efforts.

RCA seeks to improve the quality of life for all Restonians, whether you vote in our elections or not.  But if you benefit from our work in some way, voting is a great way to encourage us to keep up the good work.  If you appreciate the work our Accessibility Committee has done to make Reston a friendlier and more accessible place for Restonians with disabilities, please cast your vote.  If you want our Reston 20/20 Committee to keep fighting to ensure that the Silver Line doesn't result in huge toll increases and more traffic on our street, please cast your vote.  If you support my plan to restart our Education Committee to help ensure our children get a strong education, please cast your vote.  Heck, if you read and enjoy my blogs on a regular basis, please cast your vote.

Next year, we plan to redouble our efforts on behalf of the community.  Our new Board should have a great combination of returning members with knowledge and dedication to the organization, and new blood with fresh perspectives and innovative ideas for making RCA even stronger.  We're going to continue building our organization, take on new challenges, and keep looking for ways that RCA can better serve Reston.

In return, all we ask for right now is your vote.  Make sure to act promptly: the polls open on Sunday and close on July 8.  I encourage you to take a few minutes, go to our website, learn about the candidates, and cast your ballot.  And thanks for your support!

VOTE ONLINE NOW IN THE 2012 RCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION

The annual Reston Citizens Association (RCA) Board of Directors election is underway online via the RCA website this year.   Several Reston "at large" and district director positions are on the ballot.

Everyone in Reston who is sixteen or older has a vote, not just each household.  All eligible voters can vote for the "at large" candidates and residents of each district (map provided) can vote for a candidate in their district. 


PLEASE VOTE AND MAKE RCA A LARGER VOICE IN AND FOR ALL THE RESTON COMMUNITY.  HELP US MAKE RESTON AN EVEN BETTER
 PLACE TO LIVE, WORK, & PLAY.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

MCA Summary of the Planning Committee for Tysons Corner Meeting, May 2, 2012

Restonians need to be aware of the growing challenge to financing the massive infrastructure development that will be required in Tysons Corner to support the development that has been permitted there under its recently revised Comprehensive Plan.  As reflected in this summary prepared by the McLean Citizens Association (MCA), the following are among the key points:
  • The 40-year cost of the transportation infrastructure alone (excluding schools, public safety, parks, recreation, cultural amenities, etc) is $5.4 billion.   This price does NOT include the cost of financing, which will likely more than double that total.
  • As of this meeting, the means for financing that huge cost remained a very contentious issue, even among developers.  On the table was a second special tax district (one already exists to cover Metrorail station costs) that some developers support, others oppose.  A number of options were discussed.  
  • Not discussed here was the allocation of costs between the public sector (federal/state/local taxes) and developers--because no one could agree to a structure.  MCA has properly been advocating that the public pay no more than 25% of the costs since they will not be the ones to benefit financially from development.  In the last few weeks, the PCTC developed a proposal it will present to the County Planning Commission tomorrow (June 21) allocating the costs 52% to the developers, 48% to the public.  
These developments are extremely important in the Reston planning process because, unless the Reston Task Force takes action to avert this kind of outcome, the Tysons solution will likely serve as the model for Reston TOD area (Phase I) development.

MCA Summary May 2 PCTC Meeting 05-06-12

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bulova: Find Federal Funds for Phase 2, Reston Patch, June 19, 2012

Fairfax County Supervisors Chair says Rail to Dulles is too important to fall victim to state, local issues.
By Karen Goff
Rail to Dulles was a subject at Tuesday's Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting, where Chairman Sharon Bulova called on the County’s federal representatives to pursue any and all avenues for providing federal funding for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.
Bulova also signed a regional letter to Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, objecting to the administration’s attempt to circumvent the efficient transit funding system in Northern Virginia.
The future of Metrorail's Silver Line Phase 2 is shaky due to a lack of federal funding and the wavering support from Loudoun County. . . .
. . . Bulova pointed out on Tuesday the importance of the Silver Line to the region.
“[Rail to Dulles] will bring transit to our major international airport, provide connections to some of the county’s major business centers, and will serve as a gateway to Washington, DC, and the National Capital Region," she said.
"The Dulles Rail extension is not simply a Fairfax County project or even a regional project – it is a project of national significance. As U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood has stated, the Metro system is ‘America’s system,’ providing access for millions of riders to the nation’s capital.” . . .
But yet Chairman Bulova and the rest of the voting Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (Supervisor Herrity was absent for health reasons) voted unanimously to proceed with Metrorail's Phase 2 without making their approval contingent on greater state or federal aid of any kind.  

Why our county supervisors voted for this initiative--which sticks Dulles Toll Road users with over half the Silver Line's cost--without some conditions of state and federal financing is beyond comprehension.  Was it blind faith that the Secretary LaHood and FTA (much less Governor McDonnell) would see the wisdom and virtue of stepping up and paying up?  As experienced party apparatchiks, they all know that you don't give up something unless you get something in return.   Yet, without so much as a second's hesitation or thought and only the most pro forma of public input, they voted unthinkingly for this outrageous financial arrangement that they and their predecessors (specifically then-Board Chairman Gerry Connolly) agreed to without so much as a public hearing. 

What they did was make more than 100,000 Dulles Toll Road users--more than half Fairfax residents--pay more than $17 billion to finance over half the line's construction, paid for through huge toll increases of the next several decades. 

With this kind of consideration of their constituents, maybe they will return the favor at the next election. 
  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Draft Agenda: RCA Board of Directors Meeting, June 25, 2012

DRAFT Agenda

RCA Board of Directors Meeting

June 25, 2012



Item
Time
Topic
Disposition
Presenters
1
7:30 PM
Adopt  Agenda
Action
Colin Mills, RCA Board
2
7:35 PM
Accessibility Committee Update; Community Forum
Discussion
Ken Fredgren
3
7:50 PM
Approve May 2012 Minutes
Action
Debra Eastham
4
7:55 PM
Treasurer’s Report
Action
Diane Lewis
5
8:00 PM
Approval of Proposed Bylaw Revisions
Discussion, Action
George Kain, RCA Board
6
8:10 PM
New Issue Committees
Discussion, Possible Action
George Kain
7
8:20 PM
RCA Letter to Gov. McDonnell
Discussion, Action
Colin Mills, RCA Board
8
8:35 PM
Master Plan Task Force Update
Discussion
Tammi Petrine, Dick Rogers
9
8:50 PM
Election Update; Website, Outreach
Discussion
Gary Walker
10
9:05 PM
RA Update
Discussion
Dick Rogers
11
9:10 PM
Other Business
Discussion
RCA Board
12
9:15 PM
Location and Time of Next Meeting; Adjourn
Action
RCA Board

RCA Takes Election Online, Reston Patch, June 18, 2012

The Reston Citizens Association (RCA) has announced the candidates running in its 2012 Board of Directors election.
Voting will run June 24 through July 8. Voting used to take place at the annual Reston Festival, but with the demise of that event, voting will now take place online, says RCA president Colin Mills.
RCA represents the citizens of Reston on political and social issues, including planning, development, transportation, accessibility, and more. RCA is committed to preserving Bob Simon's founding principles and New Town vision as Reston moves forward as an established community. . . .
 Click here for the seats up for election and profiles of the candidates.  

I strongly encourage you to vote for the candidates of your choice.  I would note that, unlike the RA elections, each person in the Reston Small Tax District #5 who is sixteen or older may cast his or her individual vote.

We hope you will show your support for RCA by casting your vote beginning next week. 


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Agenda: Reston Planning & Zoning Committee Meeting, June 18, 2012

                                    THE RESTON PLANNING AND ZONING COMMITTEE
                                                              MEETING AGENDA
                                                Monday, June 18, 2012 – 7:30 pm
                                                               Community Room
                                                North County Government Center
                                              12000 Bowman Towne Drive, Reston


1. Discussion with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins about the Metrorail project to Dulles Airport and beyond.

2. Reston Hospital Center – Temporary Helistop Special Exception.
To permit the installation and use of a temporary helistop facility. The helistop facility is intended to support the nearby Reston Hospital Center during temporary closure of its helistop. The proposed helistop facility will be used during flight operations only, with emergency vehicle transportation support. There are no parking or loading requirements. The helistop is to be constructed of a reinforced grass system so as not to increase stormwater runoff. The temporary helistop will not exceed 2,500 square feet of land disturbance.
3. Committee discussion of any other business, new or old, and approval of previous meeting minutes.

4. Approve next meeting date (July 16) and adjourn.

Agenda is subject to change without notice by order of the Chairman, David Vanell, (703) 904-0299, or Michael Romeo, Vice Chairman, (703) 579-7525.


June 7, 2012

Agenda: Reston Task Force Meeting, June 12, 2012

Please note that the location of this meeting has changed to Terraset Elementary School cafeteria.

                                                 RESTON MASTER PLAN SPECIAL STUDY
                                                                       TASK FORCE
                                                                      June 12, 2012

Task Force Meeting
Terraset Elementary School cafeteria, 11411 Ridge Heights Road, Reston

AGENDA

7:00 p.m. Public Comment Period

7:10 p.m. Administrative Items – Patty Nicoson, Task Force Chair

7:15 p.m. Presentation re: upcoming changes to existing bus service and addition of new routes in Reston
  • Paul Mounier, Fairfax Connector, Fairfax County Department of Transportation
7:30 p.m. Transportation Presentation re: Scenario E (blue map) Analysis Results
  • Fairfax County Department of Transportation staff and consultants from Cambridge Systematics
9:25 p.m. Adjourn – Patty Nicoson

The Toll Road User Is Still the Frog in the Pot, Terry Maynard

As probably everyone in northern Virginia and well beyond knows by now, earlier this week the MWAA Board of Directors folded to political pressure to abandon its planned preference for bidders on Phase 2 of the Silver Line offering Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).  In fact, this vote may be the most over-reported near-non-event in the decades-long history of the rail to Dulles. 


What it truly came down to was a largely meaningless partisan Republican-oriented victory for “right to work” over a Democratic-oriented pro-union stance.  It may (or may not) save 5%-10% on the total cost of Phase 2—about $150-$300 million out of $3 billion—at the same time creating a roughly equally small risk that there may (or may not) be labor-related issues that offset any savings from not having a PLA in place.  In fact, it is quite reasonable to think that the construction companies bidding for Phase 2 will actually reach voluntary PLAs without any preference in the bidding process, just to reduce the risk of delays and cost escalations during construction.  In short, the result of the MWAA decision is swapping slightly greater cost risk at a lower price for near certainty at a higher price.  This is not always a good investment strategy, but it gives the Governor and others chest thumping honors for the week.

There may be some good news in the MWAA Board decision, however.  It should clear the last partisan stumbling block in seeing the Republican-controlled Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approve its participation in the Silver Line project.  Still, as the Loudoun Board has come to recognize, there are a number of other real issues that need to be addressed before making an informed decision.  Whatever their decision ultimately is, they deserve credit—unlike their Fairfax counterparts—for looking at the numerous issues involved in making such a massive investment.  The good news is that Loudoun's participation would enable the smooth transition from the completion of Phase 1 completion to Phase 2 construction rather than further delays in figuring out how to finance the project.

There may also be good news if, as promised, Governor McDonnell allows state funds to be used in financing Metrorail construction.  Unfortunately, the total amount is small at present--$150 million--and will be dribbled out in $50 million annual increments to help cover the financing costs of the line.  Even in the unlikely “best case” event that the state contributed $50 million per year through mid-century, its contribution to the total financing costs over that timeframe would be about 11%--far short of the 25% it committed to in the 2004 FEIS. 

What is foolish about this arrangement, moreover, is that the state's money is going to pay the interest on bonds at MWAA's junk bond interest rate levels (somewhere north of 7%).  If the state instead put its money into the capital end of the investment, the debt could be paid at the state's much lower AAA-rating interest rate (south of 4%).  The state’s planned course of action is sort of like preferring a mortgage at sub-prime rates with no down payment when you could be borrowing at prime rates with a mere 5% down payment.  It’s a very cost inefficient use of Virginia taxpayer funds.  Nonetheless, the state’s investment would allow toll rates to edge up to $4.50 full toll over the three-year period rather than merely double to that level next year as now forecast.  It would not significantly lessen the long term impact on tolls.

On the other hand, the cost projections for Phase 2 are still in at the “100% preliminary engineering” stage and, if the tale of the projections for Phase 1 are any lesson, they are likely to climb substantially.  In Phase 1, two separate “100% preliminary engineering” cost assessments were conducted, and the final contract agreement exceeded those assessments by 11% and 35%.  And, yes, there has been a nearly 10% cost overrun in building Phase 1 alone—which, while not bad for a project of this scope—more than offsets all the financial gains from cutting PLAs and using incremental toll increases.  All of which shows how meaningless the recent partisan posturing on PLAs and bureaucratic posturing incremental toll increases have been.  
The real issue remains that the Dulles Toll Road user will be stuck paying for some three-quarters of the cost of Phase 2 and over half the total $6 billion cost of the Silver Line. 

The myth of boiling frogs is that they do not feel the pain if they are put in a pot of cold water that is slowly brought to a boil, while throwing a frog in boiling water causes great pain.  Both lead to death, however.  Toll road users face the same fate financially.  The likely incremental changes in toll rates are rather like warming the water up with the frog in the pot rather than throwing the frog in the boiling pot of toll doubling and tripling in the next six years—and climbing thereafter. 

So, despite all the recent political, bureaucratic, and media hullabaloo, toll road users will face toll increases of at least $2 every five years to $18.75 by mid-century per MWAA’s official forecast.  Total toll road revenue collections are forecast to exceed $17 billion through mid-century, all paid for by a declining number of sufficiently wealthy, willing toll road users.    In the end, neither technique is in the long term interests of the frog--nor the toll road user.  And the absence (or presence) of PLAs will likely be totally meaningless to future tolls.  For the toll road user, nothing much has changed—his or her wallet will be boiled dry for much higher tolls.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reston unrest over old Dulles Toll Road toll system and its disparate per mile tolls, TollRoadsNews.com, June 4, 2012

By Peter Samuel
2012-06-04: Crude cash based toll systems don't arouse equity concerns when tolls are low, but push them up to what the traffic will bear - to revenue maximizing levels - and people look much more closely. Now the Metro Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is pushing Dulles Toll Road toll rates to the skies to try finance a multi-$billion rail transit extension, and it is facing demands for per-mile toll rates from Reston, about halfway along the northern Virginia pike.

A recent Reston Citizens Association (RCA) pamphlet is headed up "Exorbitant Reston Toll Costs per Mile."

It says: "MWAA must install distance-based tolling on the Dulles Toll Road to prevent the gross inequity in cost-per-mile for Reston and other partial-length toll road users."



The Dulles Toll Road (DTR) currently has one mainline toll plaza near its east end (by Tysons) plus identical ramp tolls at interchanges to the west. . . .
Click here for the rest of this TollRoadsNews article on DTR tolling and more.  

Preserving Our Principles in a Changing Community, Colin Mills, Presdient, RCA, Reston Patch, May 30, 2012

  On Memorial Day, I spent the afternoon over at Reston Town Center. After a delicious lunch at Jackson's, my girlfriend and I went for a stroll around the place. We popped our heads into Paper Source, and I bought a couple new shirts at Jos. A. Bank. It was a fine way to spend some time on a warm afternoon.
As we walked, I thought about how much Reston has changed since I was a kid. The Town Center didn't exist at all until I was my daughter's age; now, it's hard to imagine Reston without it. When I was young, Reston was still more dream than reality; now, it's almost built out, and some parts are even awaiting redevelopment. When I was a kid, Reston was a small and somewhat remote suburb; now, it's a thriving place, an economic engine and a center of activity for Fairfax County.

As our community has changed, so too have our citizens. Our citizens' reasons for settling in Reston are often much different now than they were in our community's early days. And these differences in values and goals give rise to different visions for our future. These different visions have come into view during the discussions of the Reston Master Plan Task Force, which is trying to determine what the community will look like decades from now.

How will we reconcile these divergent visions? Hopefully, by combining the best of both. If both sides in this debate listen to each other with an open mind and if we plan carefully, we can create a Reston that's ready for the demands and desires of the future, while still retaining the timeless virtues that make it such a special place.

Let's start by considering what inspired our citizens to settle here. For the pioneer generation of Restonians, they were inspired by Bob Simon's founding principles and New Town vision. Bob imagined a community where we could live, work and play; a racially and economically diverse community; a community organized around village centers, not shopping centers, that would allow many of our citizens to fulfill their basic needs without getting in their cars; a community lush with trees and natural beauty. And most of our pioneer Restonians bought wholeheartedly into that vision. They would have had to, since most of the community was still hypothetical.

The early Restonians tended to cherish values like diversity, walkability, and nature, since that's what drew them here. And they took an active role in (literally) building the community to reflect those values and Bob's vision. If we needed a commuter bus service, the citizens started one. If we needed schools, the citizens lobbied the county to open them. If we needed a community center, the citizens taxed themselves to build one. Our early citizens took a very active role in building the community they wanted.

Those who moved to Reston in more recent years may well cherish the same values and principles as longtime residents, but that's likely not the reason they moved here. They may have moved here to be close to work, or because they like the schools, or because the housing values are strong, or because they like amenities offered at the Town Center. They may not care about or even know about Bob Simon's founding principles. They're used to driving to get places, and probably don't know that many of the old vilage centers have turned into typical suburban strip malls. They prefer the lively sounds and the bright lights of the Town Center.

As you can imagine, older and newer Restonians often have quite different ideas of what Reston should be. In many ways, Lake Anne Plaza has come to symbolize this divide. To a lot of us who have lived here for a long time, Lake Anne is the embodiment of Reston: the classic European-inspired design, the fact that it's more pedestrian-friendly than car-friendly, its role as a community gathering place, the tranquility it offers. We love the way it keeps its charms hidden from the street, and that you have to walk into the plaza to discover it. We love its assortment of small, locally-owned shops and restaurants. To many of the earlier Restonians, Lake Anne is Reston's crown jewel.

On the other hand, to many newer Restonians, the sort who think of the Town Center as Reston's ideal place, Lake Anne is a relic of another time. Not enough parking, too much concrete, too many empty storefronts, not enough action. Not only do they not value Lake Anne, they don't understand why anyone would want to keep it. The old-timers' affection for Lake Anne feels like mindless nostalgia to them. Why not level the place and build something new and modern?

How do we resolve these two visions? It's not easy, but it's possible. Lake Anne itself is acctually taking some steps in the right direction. They've added the Saturday Farmer's Market and craft market, as well as a variety of concerts and events that draw in people who might not otherwise visit the plaza. They've added some new shops and restaurants (I especially like Kalypso's). And if it's done right, the planned revitalization of the neighborhoods around Lake Anne could be a godsend. The plan is to preserve the existing plaza, while added some additional density that could help to preserve and support the businesses on the plaza (and add some much-needed parking).

What about the rest of Reston? I think it's important for both sets of citizens to consider the merits of the other side.

For those who have been here since Reston's early days: acknowledge that there's no stopping the clock. You may have loved what Reston was in 1965 or 1975 or 1985, but we can't preserve those times in amber. Times change, values change, and people change. If we insist on preserving everything exactly as it used to be, we put ourselves at risk of stagnating and letting the times pass us by. Not all growth is bad. Not all redevelopment is bad. It's important to separate the desire to preserve Reston's founding values from a reflexive opposition to any kind of change or growth.
For those who are newer in town: remember that Reston's special qualities, like its natural beauty and its community amenities, are a big part of what makes Reston appealing and keeps your property values high. And those qualities are exactly what the pioneer Restonians worked hard to build and preserve. Longtime Restonians have spent decades shaping the community, and they have strong views about what this place should be. It's worked pretty well so far, hasn't it? So consider their views with respect.

Also, newcomers: get involved! I know you're busy and it's hard to find time to attend meetings and join community organizations. But that's where the decisions are made about Reston and it's future. It's your future too. Because newer Restonians are less likely to come to these meetings, the case for denser and more urbanized development usually winds up being made by the development community. This leads older Restonians to suspect that the push for higher density is a cash grab by developers (even though most developers - successful ones, anyway - build what the public demands).

For all of us, the debate on the Task Force and elsewhere needs to be about more than FARs and density numbers. It needs to be about values. We need to think hard about what principles and features truly embody Reston, and then figure out a way to preserve those things while modernizing Reston so that it continues to be a popular place to live, work, and play.

And sometimes, modern values and old-school principles may support each other. As an example, the coming of the Silver Line and the increased densities it supports may revive interest in Reston's old village center model, as more walkable neighborhoods make it possible to consider a carless lifestyle.  We should look for more examples like this.

In my blog post celebrating Bob Simon, I described the experience of taking one of my friends to Lake Anne for the first time. He's my age and he's never lived in Reston, but he loved it. He also loves the Town Center (in fact, he's located his new business there). There's room for both in Reston, just as Bob envisioned. If we work together and think together, we can come up with ways to bring the old Reston vision into a new century.

Tysons Corner’s last green space: Will it be paved to make way for Tysons City? Washington Post, Tom Jackman, State of NOVA Blog, June 4, 2012

In the transformation of Tysons Corner into a city of 100,000, must all green space be eliminated? No, according to Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan, which specifically discusses the 20-acre Old Courthouse Spring Branch parkland running behind the car dealerships and Sheraton Hotel on the south side of Route 7.


The Old Courthouse Spring Branch forest provides a buffer for many Vienna residents from the toll road and Route 7. A creek, which emanates from a spring under the Pike 7 Plaza, is shown in blue. The move to turn Tysons Corner into a city could eliminate this forest. (Google Earth)   

“These stream valley parks should not only be protected from development and infrastructure impacts, but be restored and enhanced,” the plan says on page 78. Sounds good. Vienna residents and workers love hiking, jogging, walking dogs and just plain hanging out on its informally maintained paths, and all manner of wildlife can be seen there.
But wait. Then there’s page 49 — a full-color map showing a new, four-lane avenue running right through the heart of Old Courthouse Spring Branch park, also called Tysons Spring or Tysons Forest. And when 300 Vienna residents packed into the Westbriar Elementary School cafeteria Thursday night to hear about this from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, they also saw a diagram of “Preferred Option 3,” which would run an exit ramp from the Dulles Toll Road directly into the north end of the forest, and the newly created avenue.
To say there was an uproar in that cafeteria would be an understatement. . . .
To read the rest of this excellent report on the Tysons public meeting, click here

Although no such grandiose plans are on the table for Reston at this time, Reston citizens need to follow developments in transportation planning to prevent this kind of absurd thinking.   Even the County projects only 20% or less increase in peak period traffic for all of Tysons, yet it is planning to construct three new ramps in addition to the two already there, according to the County 527 traffic impact report to VDOT.  During the peak period, in fact, only an added 870 cars are expected in the PM peak period along the DTR in the Tysons area.  And this does not consider the huge reduction MWAA's traffic forecaster, CDM Smith, is forecasting for the toll road in light needed exorbitant toll increases.

Restonians need to keep an eye on this kind of faulty thinking--and prevent it.