At the moment, the location of a new Reston recreation center may be the most contentious issue among the several issues surrounding the possible construction of a new recreation center as reflected in comments at the RCA-sponsored public meeting, dialogues in online newspapers and blogs, and other public commentary suggest.
The Baron Cameron Park location proposed by RCC has met with vocal neighborhood opposition about both losing some valued facilities, most notably the local dog park, and adding the traffic that a new recreation facility will generate.
Other possible locations have been identified, including:
· Tall Oaks shopping center. The near-vacant shopping center may be ripe for acquisition by the County although there are no current plans to do so. This location would be relatively near the Wiehle Metrorail station.
· Isaac Newton Square. Another under-utilized office development area that the County could acquire, although there are no indications the owners would sell, and has been identified by the Reston Task Force (RTF) as a logical place for high-density housing near Wiehle station.
The southwest corner of Lake Fairfax Park. The park backs up to the end of Business Center Drive, the end of Michael Faraday Court to the south, and the end of Isaac Newton Square South east of the fast food drive-throughs off Wiehle Avenue Clay Court to the east. Access from any of these streets would require acquisition of right-of-way and construction over some difficult terrain.
· Undeveloped FCPA park land in Town Center North. The FCPA owns five acres of undeveloped land just south of the INOVA Urgent Care facility. The size of property is ideal for the intended purpose, but the County is in negotiations with INOVA, the other major landowner in this area, about re-parceling their land as the area develops.
As this brief listing suggests, none of the locations is singularly superior to the others; each has its strengths and weaknesses. In this situation, we think that several criteria should be used to identify which locations would be most appropriate for a new Reston Recreation Center. These are:
- Minimizing land costs. Minimizing land cost will substantially reduce the overall cost of building a new recreation center. In this context, building on land already owned by FCPA is far preferable to privately held land—or even to FCPA land that requires acquiring an access right-of-way.
- Maximizing immediate proximity to potential Reston users. Restonians ought to be able to walk to the new recreation center in large numbers both so as to attract greater participation and reduce added traffic. In general, this means being in or close to one of the transit station areas, the locus of Reston major population and employment growth for many decades to come.
- Minimizing disruption of existing uses valued by the community. To maximize the community gain from investing in a recreation center, it would be unwise to undo an existing or future public or private opportunity that is important to the community. It also means adhering to Reston's core values, including protecting the environment.
- Space for sufficient parking. Providing parking for visitors and staff will also be an important element of the facility’s capabilities. Without sufficient parking, the facility will almost certainly be under-utilized or nearby streets, parking facilities, and neighborhoods will be over-burdened with recreation center traffic. The actual size of the parking lot needed for a recreation center is somewhat flexible, however, depending on the recreation center’s location--an urban area relying on walk-in participation will need less than a suburban location.
Please let us know what you think.