Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

RAC: Working Hard for Reston, Colin Mills, Reston Patch, May 8, 2013

Our fellow RCA committee makes great contributions to our community and county!  Keep up the good work RAC!

It’s been a few months since I last wrote about RCA’s Reston Accessibility Committee, and the changes they achieved at South Lakes Village Center.  Well, Ken Fredgren and his hard-working group have remained quite active since January, when I last wrote about them, and it’s high time that I shine the spotlight on their latest work.  RAC continues to champion the cause of ensuring accessibility for everyone throughout Reston.

RAC Chairman Ken Fredgren and RAC members accept Community Partnership Award from Fairfax County.
On the heels of their success at South Lakes, RAC turned its attention to the Reston Hospital Center.  As you would imagine, accessibility is paramount at a hospital.  So when a RAC member reported that she had had experienced problems opening the bathroom doors at the hospital, not only did RHC staff test the doors and fix them quickly, but they also reached out to RAC to talk about how the hospital could be made more accessible.

RAC performed a survey of the hospital property and made several suggestions for improvement.  And the RHC staff listened!  The hospital now has more accessible parking spaces, access aisles, curb ramps, curb cuts, and crosswalks.  Some of the existing accessible spaces were relocated to provide a more accessible route to the hospital buildings.  They even moved their valet parking service to the main entrance to provide safer and more comfortable access for patients with disabilities.

I’m delighted to know that RHC is now a friendlier place for those with disabilities.  Kudos to RAC for another successful project!  And kudos to RHC for their proactive approach to improving accessibility.  Ken reported that RHC Community & Government Relations VP Tracey White and COO Jane Raymond, who were the liaisons to RAC on the project, were tremendously helpful and pleasant to work with.  I feel great knowing that we have a hospital that cares about ensuring access for all of its patients and visitors.

The RHC effort is just one of several Reston projects that RAC has been working on these last few months.  The other efforts are still in progress, and I’ll be sure to share the news once they’ve been completed.

In addition to his work in Reston, Ken has also been at work in Richmond.  He is continuing to push for the Board of Housing and Community Development to approve the building code changes that his working group proposed.  It’s been a slow process, as the Board has been reluctant to adopt the changes.  This has meant that Ken has had to spend a lot of time and energy revising the proposed changes and driving back and forth from Richmond to attend hearings.

But Ken has not given up; he’s continued to advocate for the changes, and to work to find a compromise that will allow these changes to move forward.  If he is successful (and I believe he will be), people with disabilities all over the Commonwealth will benefit from his efforts.

RAC’s dedication and hard work has earned recognition even beyond Reston’s borders.  In honor of Building Safety Month, last week RAC received the Community Partnership Award from the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.  The award was presented at a ceremony before the Board of Supervisors.  I’m delighted to see RAC receive the recognition it deserves, and I hope that the award might spur others throughout the County to create an Accessibility Committee in their own communities.

Ever the advocate, Ken took a moment during his acceptance speech to call on the Supervisors to create a process to enforce requirements for compliant accessible parking signs throughout the County.  In order for a parking space to be truly “accessible,” it needs to be properly designed (on level ground, with access aisles) and properly signed.  Ken called on the County to perform inspections of accessible parking signs and spaces.  Better yet, both Chairman Bulova and Supervisor Hudgins made a public commitment to address the issue.  I’m hopeful that this will come to pass, and if it does, it will be another move forward for people with disabilities.

As you can see, RAC has kept itself active working on behalf of Restonians with disabilities.  If you’re inspired by what they’re doing, you can now tell them in person, because RAC is getting out into the community.  Last Saturday, for the first time, RAC had a booth at the Reston Farmer’s Market at Lake Anne.  Their booth was stocked with information about RAC and its accomplishments, and they did a fine job spreading the word.

So if you have any questions about RAC, or if you’d like to give them a donation or join the committee, or if you’d just like to say thanks for what they’re doing, stop by their booth.  They’re planning to return to the Market on May 18th, and they’re hoping to be there every other week while the market is in operation.

As always, I’m inspired by the example Ken and RAC are setting.  Improving access for the disabled is not an easy or high-profile task, but the success of RAC’s volunteer activists is a sight to behold.  With hard work, good will, and a firm interest in the community welfare, RAC is making Reston a better place to live, work, play, and get around.

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