Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's official! Silver Line starts at noon, July 26th, Wiehle Station

Metro announces Silver Line opening date

Rail service to begin at noon Saturday, July 26


Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles today announced the opening date for Silver Line service.

“We have set the opening date for the Silver Line as Saturday, July 26,” said Sarles.  “The five new Silver Line stations will open to customers at noon, and the first Silver Line train will depart Wiehle-Reston East, bound for Largo Town Center, at that time.”

The announcement of an opening date follows two weeks of progress by the Airports Authority and their contractor to resolve open work items.  Sarles noted that there are still remaining items — such as obtaining Certificates of Occupancy — that are expected to be resolved prior to the opening date.

Silver Line trains will operate between Reston and Largo at the same frequency as most other lines.  During rush hours, trains will run every 6 minutes; at off-peak times, trains will run every 12 to 20 minutes.  Five new stations will be added to the system: McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East.

To finalize employee familiarization and confirm schedules, Metro plans to conduct a week of “simulated service,” starting Sunday, July 20.  During the service simulation, Silver Line trains will run on the system without carrying passengers to or from the five new stations. However, the “simulation” trains will carry passengers between East Falls Church and Largo Town Center.

As a result of Silver Line service, riders at stations from East Falls Church to Court House will see trains arrive more frequently at all times, and riders from Rosslyn to Stadium-Armory will notice more frequent service outside rush hours.  On the Blue Line, trains will operate every 12 minutes at all times of the day, and during rush hours, trains at Vienna, Dunn Loring and West Falls Church, will arrive and depart every 6 minutes.

Riders can check fares and travel times, get station information and learn more about the project by visiting silverlinemetro.com.

Metro took control of the first phase of the Silver Line less than a month ago, on May 27.  The milestone, known as the "Operational Readiness Date" (ORD), marked the point where care and control of the line was formally transferred from the Airports Authority to Metro.


News release issued at 11:01 am, June 23, 2014.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT TO VOTE IN THE RCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION!

The clock is ticking; now is your chance to vote in the RCA elections!  Don't delay; the polls close Sunday, June 22 at midnight.

The following seats are up for election: At-Large, North Point, Lake Anne/Town Center/Tall Oaks, South Lakes, and Hunters Woods/Dogwood. Each seat carries a three-year term. Anyone who (a) is 16 years or older and (b) lives anywhere in Reston (defined as Reston Small Tax District #5) is eligible to vote.

To read RCA President Colin Mills' explanation of how and why to vote, click here.

To learn how to vote, view the eligibility requirements, learn about the candidates, or to cast your ballot, click the link in the sidebar to the left, or the one below:


Something different: On word that the Silver Line may be coming . . .

At some point, you just have to let it go!




"Could it be? Yes, it could.
Something's coming, something good,
If I can wait!
Something's coming, I don't know what it is,
But it is
Gonna be great!"



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Millennials consider leaving Washington as the city becomes more costly, Washington Post, June 16, 2014

WaPo reporter Robert Samuels writes:
The young couple had mastered the morning choreography of their tiny Columbia Heights kitchen. John Van Zandt squeezed into one corner and toasted an English muffin. In another, his wife, Florencia Fuensalida, brewed coffee.
For years, renting a one-bedroom near bars and bus routes was a suitable trade-off for the wonders of the new Washington. But Van Zandt is 35 now; Fuensalida is 31. And kitchen space seemed a little tighter each day Fuensalida’s baby bump grew.
Maneuvering past the fridge, Fuensalida repeated a tired refrain: “We’re going to need a bigger place.” But where?
They were once a part of the free-spending group of young people who jolted Washington’s economy. Now older and with more financial strains, they are trying to find a new place in it.
Amid the talk of young newcomers and their fondness for social leagues and artisanal-coffee shops, another reality exists: Many are struggling to keep pace with the city’s rising cost of housing. And as new millennials move into the District, older members of that generation — loosely defined as ranging from 18 to 34 years old — are heading out.
There you have it:  The reality  of high rents and babies will drive the younger generation (now "Millennials') out of pint-sized apartments and condos in the city and close-in suburbs (such as Arlington) and into the suburbs---places like Reston--or maybe beyond.  And it's not just about the added living space at a lower price, it's about schools and a hundred other advantages the suburbs offer for growing families. 

For more than four years, Reston resident members of the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force tried to make that point, but the developer-dominated task force would not listen and so they are now allowed to build more 20,000-plus small apartments and condos around Reston's Metro stations. It was all about housing the Millenials who, it turns out, are leaving their high-priced mini-abodes!

Yet the Reston developers are not planning on inexpensive units (except for the mandated share of workforce housing units).  Just look at rental and condo prices in Reston Town Center.  It's housing for six-figure incomes or better. 

To the extent these singles and couples work in the District, they will also have to add to their monthly tab a huge transit cost that will only grow as WMATA faces more than $20 BILLION in still unfunded investments in the coming decades.

Does this make sense???

Click here for the rest of the WaPo article. 

RCA Reston 2020 Statement on Reston RECenter Proposal at RCC Annual Hearing, June 16, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Testimony to the FCPL Board of Trustees, John Hanley, June 11, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is John Hanley and I live in South Reston.

Looking at the Ad Hoc Communications and Evaluation Committee, two over-arching elements stand out.

The first element is money. That the Fairfax County Library System staff is dedicated to providing the best services they can goes without saying. They all work extremely hard. But good people cannot do a good job without good resources. Our system presently ranks only 14th out of 19 systems in the DC metro area, according to the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. Other ratings draw similar conclusions. So I believe that a prime objective of your Committee should be to request as a priority to the Board of Supervisors that the Library budget be brought back to the levels of several years previously, over a five year period.

The second element is trust. A huge amount of trust in the library has been squandered over the last year or more. Among all stakeholders, there is anxiety and incomprehension about where the system is going and why the budget keeps getting cut year after year. You trustees need to work to regain that trust.

Four suggestions on how to start to bring this about.
1. Contract with a professional entity to carry out the proposed survey, independently of the library administration.  
2. Appoint two more Trustees to the Committee, to ensure that full information is always available for public review and discussion by all stakeholders.
3. Appoint at least three members of the public to the Committee. They are the prime constituents that you represent. 
4. Appoint at least three retired library professionals to the Committee.
Once you take actions like these, you will immediately re-engender just the feelings of trust and confidence that I fear you have recently lost. Everyone involved in the activities, from administrators to users and from staff to you yourselves will benefit from this open, cooperative approach. Confidence and enthusiasm will be re-established.

Don’t forget what you are. Trustees. Please live up to the obligation that this title implies.

John Hanley is a member of the RCA Board of Directors and the Coordinating Committee of RCA's Reston 2020 Committee.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Column: Library Board and Masters Need to Rebuild Citizen Trust, John Lovaas, Reston Connection, June 11, 2014

. . . last fall the Supervisors awoke and put the Beta plan on hold, and directed the Library Board to plan a future direction for our libraries based on needs of and input from stakeholders. As part of this process, a public meeting was convened on June 3 by the Library Board’s Committee on Communication and Evaluation. It drew an overflow crowd of stakeholders. It did not go well.
The focus of the Library Administration was how to construct and carry out a broad survey of the community. One official mused about the merits of hiring a consultant to design and execute the survey, or having a joint effort of consultant and Library Administration staff, or just having the staff do it since funds are scarce. There was no mention of including users, stakeholders in survey design or execution. Nor was there a clear concept of what data was needed.
One could sense seething in the audience. When stakeholders finally were given the opportunity to speak, the message was clear. To rebuild the trust lost by the Beta experience, stakeholders wanted to be at the table from now on through survey design, implementation, data analysis and interpretation. . . .
Click here for the rest of this important commentary on our public libraries.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

RCA 2014 Election Slate of Candidates



            
Reston Citizens Association
Contact:  Colin Mills
(703)608-6049
June 7, 2014


RCA Announces Slate of Candidates for the 2014 Board Election
Online Elections run from June 7 to June 22

The Reston Citizens Association (RCA) today released the slate of candidates for its 2014 Board of Directors election. RCA, was founded in 1967 to promote and protect Reston's founding principles and quality of life by serving as a non-partisan forum for all residents and business owners. This year is an exciting one for RCA as they are working hard to educate the community on the new development spurred by the arrival of the Silver Line and Phase II of the Reston Master Plan while also recommending smart growth solutions for transportation, education, environment, and accessibility to local and County officials and associations.

The following seats are up for election: North Point Director, Lake Anne/Tall Oaks/Town Center Director, South Lakes Director, Hunters Woods Director, and an At-Large Director. Each seat carries a three-year term. 

 The 2014 candidates are:

Sridhar Ganesan is running for re-election for the North Point Director seat. Ganesan, a Reston resident for 16 years and RCA Board member for two, has focused on analytical, advisory support, communications, strategic planning, finance and organizational matters.  Prior to serving with RCA, he chaired the RA’s Tennis Advisory Committee and helped organize charity events/tennis tournaments. He would like to help RCA to grow and participate more vigorously in its mission of educating Restonians on community issues and leverage his global corporate, operational and strategic experience to ensure that issues that affect Reston follow due process, offer constructive solutions that enable smart growth, and deliver outcomes that are what a majority of the community desires.

Hank Schonzeit, a 21 year resident of Reston, is running for Lake Anne/Tall Oaks/Town Center Director.  He currently serves as the Chairman of his condominium’s fitness facility task force and participates on the facilities committee. He volunteers regularly for Reston Runners and a suicide prevention hot line and has served as  Governour’s Square Cluster President and Treasurer. He has spent most of his career as an executive in healthcare systems. He wants to help maintain and improve Reston’s life-enhancing character and opportunities for healthy living, play, work  and appreciation of nature. He believes growth and development should be carefully managed and supported by the Reston community and not diminish the Reston experience.

Constance (Connie) Hartke is running for re-election for the Hunters Woods Director seat. Hartke, a Reston resident for 10 years and RCA Board member for one, has focused on developing communication tools and documents and delivering them so Restonians can make informed decisions on matters of import to the Reston community. She would also like to continue to advocate to our county government and our HOA, Reston Association. Hartke has also been a Board member of Rescue Reston since 2013 and Treasurer and Secretary – Cove Mountain Woods HOA (in the Smoky Mountains, TN) since 2005.  She volunteers for the Reston Triathlon, Jim McDonnell’s Lake Swim, and Reston Marathon while  also writing and managing her blog on Reston Patch – http://bit.ly/patch-connie.

Dennis Hays, a 21 resident of Reston, is running for the At-Large Seat. Hays is currently a Board member of Friends of the Reston Regional Library, RR Community Fund, and Community Living Alternatives. He has been President and Chairman of Course and Schedule Committee for Reston Runner’s, a Director of Runners Marathon of Reston, President of American Foreign Service Association, and Chairman of Friends of the Paramaribo (Suriname) Zoo. Hays came to Reston for the “live, work, play” philosophy of the community, the emphasis on preserving nature and the “walkability” of the pathways and trails. He believes progress can and must support the spirit of our community, and that the legitimate concerns of those who live and work in Reston should be factored into decisions about the community’s future. He believes upcoming action on the Master Plan, transportation issues, the balance between parkland and development and our library require close attention and a clear voice..

There are no declared candidates for the South Lakes seat; however, there is a write-in slot on the ballot where voters may support any qualified Restonian for the seat. 


The RCA Board election will take place from June 7 to June 22 at midnight. Continuing the practice established in 2012, this year’s election will be held entirely online. Anyone who (a) is 16 years or older and (b) lives anywhere in Reston (defined as Reston Small Tax District #5) is eligible to vote. 

Voters can go to www.rcareston.com and click on the “CLICK HERE TO VOTE” link to learn more about the candidates and cast their ballots.

. . . But WaPo says end of summer Silver Line operations deadline could be jeopardized

In our previous post, WAMU noted that the Silver Line could be open for operations by the end of July.  On the other hand, WaPo's take, by Paul Duggan and Lori Aratani, says it may not open by the end of summer.

WMATA doesn't really know and neither do we.  We would, however, expect that WMATA would like to meet at least the 90-day timeframe laid out for its testing and evaluation of the line.  That would put the start of operations by the end of August--a good time to start because ridership will be relatively low as potential riders are finishing up summer vacations before school starts in early September allowing WMATA to smooth out the rough edges of this major rail line launch.  But that all depends on Bechtel and MWAA getting their act together to finish the repairs and fix the errors in the Silver Line construction--and that is not a wager we believe would be wise to make after a year of construction delays on what was suppose to be a 4-year project.

Here's what the Post has to say:

Much-delayed Silver Line behind schedule again; Metro worried about summer opening

The builders of Metro’s Silver Line, under pressure to finish the project so that passenger service can begin just weeks from now, are behind schedule on many final work items, leaving transit officials worried about a potential delay of the rail line’s hoped-for summer opening, a top Metro manager said Monday.

Rob Troup, Metro’s chief of operations, noted that contractors working for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of the project, agreed in writing to complete 33 “punch list” items in time for riders to start using the Silver Line this summer. That memorandum of understanding was hailed in April as a big step toward finishing the current phase of the much-delayed project.
Read related:
“However,” Troup told reporters in a conference call Monday, “we do have concern that the airports authority and the contractor are behind schedule on approximately half of the items we have listed” in the memorandum. He said: “This is work that has to be completed before we start [passenger] service. We expected them to be further along at this point.”
The Silver Line contractors, led by construction giant Bechtel, are known collectively as Dulles Transit Partners. The project’s first phase is 11.7 miles of track with four new stations in Tysons Corner and one in Reston. That was originally scheduled to be done by late 2013, and its current estimated cost is $2.9 billion, about $150 million over budget.
To hasten the start of passenger service, Metro agreed to take control of the Silver Line before the contractors had completed their work. The transfer of control, on May 27, allowed Metro to begin 90 days of testing the line, with the understanding that Dulles Transit Partners would finish the project in that period. . . .
Click here to read the rest of the Post article

Metro Eyes July 28 Start For Silver Line Passenger Service, WAMU 88.5, Jun 9, 2014

Martin DiCaro, WAMU's transportation reporter, has some more insight into when Silver Line operations may begin:
Metro is targeting July 20 for the start of “simulated service” — trial runs to train rail operators — on the new Silver Line to Reston, Virginia, according to union scheduling records. Passenger service could start one week later on Monday, July 28, pending the outcome of ongoing safety testing and the completion of outstanding construction issues by the contractor Bechtel.
“We were contacted [by WMATA] back in May and we were told that the simulated service would start July 20. So for all of the operators and station managers we are in the process of selecting work,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 president Jackie Jeter, in an exclusive interview with WAMU 88.5 FM. Work shifts are chosen by ATU workers based on seniority.
Barring any further setbacks the long-delayed Silver Line, originally planned for a January opening, will begin carrying passengers by the end of next month, the first new Metro line since the Green Line opened in 1991. The Blue Line was extended to Largo Town Center in 2004. . . .
Click here for this extended piece.

Commuting costs to downtown on the Silver Line will cost you more.

WMATA and the Fairfax Connector have now posted their fares for Phase 1 rail and bus service in Reston.  We have taken the opportunity to calculate what that will mean for the thousands of Restonians who commute to Washington, DC, or other similar distances on the Silver Line.  In every case, peak period fares will be much more expensive than the current combined bus and rail Fairfax Connector to West Falls Church Metrorail station and then downtown, which costs about $2,120 annually for a 200-day work year.  (Most work years are longer, but most commuters also take time for vacation, illness, business trips, etc., which lower the annual commuting cost.)  

In fact, Restonians' commuting costs could nearly double depending on which option they take.  Here's the rundown:
  • Current rail and bus users will see a nearly 40% increase over current round-trip costs (from $10.60 to $14.80 per day).  Annually, the total will be $2,960.
  • For those who park in the Wiehle Garage rather than ride the bus to the station, daily costs will increase a whopping 56% (to $16.55).  That works out to $3,130 a year.
  • Costs for riders with a reserved parking space in the garage will nearly double (rising to an average of $20.45 per day, a 92% increase).  They will face a total annual cost of $4,090.
(Click on image for larger view.)

Moreover, while Fairfax Connector has set lower 50-cent fares for routes around the Tysons Metro stations -- and will even offer free transfers from rail to Connector buses on those three Tysons routes, at least for an introductory period -- similar discounted fares and free transfers will NOT be offered in Reston, not even on Route 505 between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station.  Instead, the standard fare for all local Reston routes will INCREASE 15 cents each way. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Surprise, surprise! Metro: MWAA Behind in Silver Line Fixes, RestonNow, June 9, 2014

Here's how Karen Goff's latest report on Silver Line progress begins:
Contractors for the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority have been slow to repair post-Operational Readiness issues for Metro’s Silver Line, and that could slow progress in getting the rail extension ready to open.
“DTP [Dulles Transit Partners] and Bechtel are behind schedule on half the items,” Metro deputy general manager Rob Troup said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “We expected them to be further along.” . . . .
Click here to read the rest.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

ARCH Issues Bulletin 2014-1: Reston Master Plan Special Study, Phase II, June 6, 2014

 
 Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners
Supporting Homeowner Groups in All of Reston’s Neighborhoods

ISSUES BULLETIN 2014-1

6 June 2014




Subject: Reston Master Plan Special Study, Phase II

TO: Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Reston Association President and CEO, and Reston Citizens Association President

ARCH’s contention is that so much of the success of not only Reston’s past development and high standards of design but also of our recent Reston Master Plan Special Study effort is directly attributable to processes established whereby RESTON residents, RESTON community leaders, and RESTON developers and stakeholders have been charged with the responsibility and authority to CREATE, OVERSEE, and APPROVE the vision, standards and goals necessary to support past and future planning, development and growth.
ARCH believes that similar entities, processes and authorities should also be true for the future development and growth of those areas relevant to Phase II of the Reston Master Plan Special Study.
Our opinion is that the goal for future Village Center development should be the establishment of a vision that ensures the future financial viability of each and creates environments that excite people to come together to establish and sustain long-term relationships, and to form that special sense of community so essential and characteristic to Reston’s past development and character.  With regard to the Village Centers, one size doesn’t fit all.  One center may require more residential; another retail or commercial development, and another the creation of open space to achieve the vision.  
ARCH hopes that—as we move forward with Phase II of the Master Plan Special Study-- processes as outlined above are established and are considered critical to successful analysis and planning of Phase II.

Respectfully,
Gerald R. Volloy, President
Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners