Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Column: Accidental Master Planning, Part 2, John Lovaas, Reston Connection, May 26, 2010

Last time, we projected that the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force (with a moniker like that you know something’s wrong) is on a path to take Reston from 65,000 folks to upwards of 150,000 and to mega-urban commercial construction unless logic, vision and a sense of community soon join the profit and tax engines as equals in this process.

While the sharply limited mandate and piecemeal rather than comprehensive approach Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) dictated to the Task Force make the prospect of a favorable, livable community outcome doubtful, there are positive forces at work keeping hope alive. Principal among these are the several talented and caring people who somehow got onto the Task Force itself. Then, there is the Reston 2020 Committee, formed by the newly invigorated Reston Citizens Association (RCA), which is not only persistent, but has fine leadership and an unusually large group of committed residents fighting for the right to participate in shaping the future of their community. They also have created a dynamite, user-friendly blog,, courtesy of Terry Maynard. To date, these citizen forces have successfully pressed the Chair to get ideas before the Task Force despite resistance from the developer clan.

But, the challenges to a community-friendly result are formidable. Take the example of the Town Center Subcommittee of the Task Force ably led by TC resident Robert Goudie. Their job would seem easiest of the three station subcommittees. But, flaws in the in-place Town Center grid — namely three 4-6 lane, east-west arteries cutting through it, frustrate pedestrian connectivity and effectively chop TC into three separate areas. Also, in north Town Center, besides developer pressure to keep density here at levels more appropriate nearer the rail station, the county is the problem — planning a giant new, fortress police station (and new Supervisor digs?), maintaining a foul fuel depot for county vehicles on prime land, and refusing to clean up a potentially beautiful, 5-acre Park Authority-owned plot on Fountain Drive.

And, the entirety of the corridor rail station areas is being looked at piecemeal with: ZERO planned park areas (according to RA and the Park Authority itself); no mention of basic public facilities like schools anywhere; and potential density including as many as 23,000 new residences. The lack of a vision for even the Phase I study area is ominous both for the study area and for study Phase 2. Imagine what it may look like when they finally add up all the pieces for Phase 1. Would you want to live there?

If the ugly scenario I am projecting is realized, will it be enough to get the attention of Task Force leadership and County staff? Will it be enough to get them to think vision and community, to listen to voices of the community which surround them on the Task Force and in Reston 2020, and to head in a new direction before visiting the Phase 1 disaster on all of Reston?

By John Lovaas
Reston Impact Producer/Host

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