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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Further E-Mail Exchange between RCC and Reston 2020 concerning the proposed Reston recreation center at Baron Cameron Park

Below is the e-mail exchange between RCC and Reston 2020, including an e-mail from RCA President Colin Mills, that follows up on this earlier dialogue concerning the proposed RCC recreation center at Baron Cameron Park.  The e-mails are presented in chronological order. 
Message from RCC to Reston 2020 responding to Reston 2020's earlier e-mail:
Hello Terry,

Thank you for your message below. I will put together the response to your FOIA request and will let you know when that is complete. I anticipate being able to do that within the timeframe established by the Virginia FOIA provisions. The materials will include the email I sent to Sandy Stallman and her colleagues reflecting the Building Committee report and Board response. That email is copied per your suggestion under my signature below.


In response to other issues you raise, please note the following:

1. We have not yet undertaken a separate analysis of potential impact to the Small District 5 tax rate of this project. We have determined that we should wait to do so until the issues of site, final program, and potential for proffer funding are fully explored. Only after these issues are more defined can we begin to obtain useful data on how to finance and what if any impact there would be to the tax rate. There are no studies or draft studies we can share that we haven’t already shared. We have obtained outside expertise to learn what the tax base potential for growth might be and how that correlates to our existing rate and to the rate for SD 5 at its height of six cents. That is the RCLCO report that was discussed with the Board and the public; the study and related minutes of those discussions are posted on our website. When we begin any work on financing, the work will be done so the public can participate as has been the case to date with regard to considerations of feasibility and site.


2. In the Building Committee report context it remains the case that both these locations are potential locations for a new indoor recreation facility. The Baron Cameron Park location represents fewer obstacles to a new facility which makes it a strong location option—that is all that language reflects; the Reston Town Center North site represents a viable option with more complex considerations involved. RCC is going to pursue our goal to achieve the best outcome for our community. That remains a work in progress. We wanted to include for the record that the existing Hunters Woods site might still be a consideration if need be, but it too represents significant challenges.


3. Regarding locations, we researched existing public records, took a site tour of the locations suggested by the community, and presented the findings in the Building Committee report. The fact that we have been working on a staff level to explore the Baron Cameron Park site potential has been announced and discussed publicly; the records you request will reflect that and the processes involved in engaging the public. The RCC Board of Governors letter to request consideration of an indoor recreation facility in Reston Town Center North and the acknowledgement of that request have also been discussed publicly; we haven’t pursued them beyond our public discussions.


Regarding transparency, RCC has been transparent in all matters regarding this issue. We have published our studies and reports, had many back and forth conversations in RCC meetings with the public, and tried to respond as fully as possible to any questions we have received.


4. Whether or not it strains your credulity, I assure you that there is no relationship between Lake Anne redevelopment and RCC’s discussion of an indoor recreation facility; I can’t provide you with evidence of a negative in that regard. Given how much and how often this amenity has been discussed in the context of Reston planning over the past many years, including the ongoing discussion of indoor tennis at Reston Association, it makes sense to me that the Lake Anne comp plan language would reference it. Discussions surrounding the issue have suggested a number of locations “in the vicinity” of Lake Anne, including Tall Oaks Village Center, Baron Cameron Park, Reston Town Center North, Isaac Newton Square, and Lake Anne itself. RCC’s existing presence at Lake Anne Village Center might prompt the language you reference. I am pleased to see it because it suggests that this redevelopment process could offer contributions to realizing a recreation center – at this point, I think that’s what everyone agrees would be a good thing.


5. I am confident Supervisor Hudgins is aware of the Reston 2020 position on where and how a new indoor recreation facility in Reston should be realized.


Your items 6-9: Regarding interpretation of B & D’s data, how a new facility will be used, by whom, and to what degree of cost recovery, I am confident this will be a continuing and evolving dialog. These are the premises of RCC’s investigation of these areas:

  • If Small District 5 finances a facility – in any manner – that financing will obtain Reston patron privileges and considerations.
  • If a new facility is financed by RCC – and if is operated on the same basis as our existing facilities operate – Reston use will be subsidized. We wanted to understand how that would translate into a financial pro forma because that is the information upon which we would have to make decisions about whether this is a feasible approach or not and what we ought to consider with regard to how we are currently operating.
  • The B & D pro forma extends out 30 years, but its projections are escalated by revenue and expense inflationary factors; it doesn’t consider the RCC/employee issue (as yet); and is not tied to the projections for population growth associated with the Reston Master Plan Comprehensive Plan draft.


10. The agenda and Board package for their January planning session will be posted as is our requirement – three days in advance of the meeting – and it will generally focus on our current Strategic Plan, where we are in realizing its goals, and how we ought to be thinking about the future in light of that information. This session is an opportunity for the Board and staff to engage on those issues. The public will be afforded the opportunity to provide comments before the Board/staff discussion each day and we will take comments until those who want to offer them have been heard. These January meetings will not conclude this issue in any way, nor will they be entirely focused on this issue.


The process you describe in concluding your email regarding the Park Authority calendar for Baron Cameron Park Master Planning is inaccurate. They will release proposed plans for Baron Cameron Park to the public first. The public will be notified of that presentation (both RCC and the Park Authority will use our contact/input lists to assure there is awareness) and the public will have a thirty day comment period to respond to the proposed plan documents prior to any Board consideration. This is the Park Authority standard process.


Following that thirty day comment period, depending on the input received, the Park Authority may decide to revise the proposed plans or proceed with a presentation to their Board. If they decide to redo the concept plans, they will return to the public for another thirty day comment period. The consideration of a park master plan is only undertaken at the Park Authority Board level after the public comment period has been completed. That is the process they follow, it’s the process they announced last May, and it will be followed with respect to the Baron Cameron Park Master Plan.


I’d like to also reiterate that the Park Authority process is one layer of the ongoing work on this issue. Even after the Park Authority Board consideration of how Baron Cameron Park might be planned, there would be many follow-on steps. If RCC considers a capital facility at Baron Cameron Park, there will have to be further discussions of how that can be achieved – financially and operationally— and in what relationship to the Park Authority.


I appreciate you posting this and look forward to providing the materials you requested. This exchange and materials related to it will be included in our records of input to this issue; hence the copy to our Public Information Officer, Cristin Bratt.  Please include her in any further email correspondence.


Thank you, Terry.



(copied below is the RCC request to the Park Authority to continue considering collaborating with RCC; private email addresses have been deleted; official correspondence to RCC Board members is to be delivered to which is the official email address for the RCC Board.)
From: Stallman, Sandra
Sent: Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:05 AM
To: Gordon, Leila
Subject: Re: RCC's Continued Interest in Working with the Park Authority on Indoor Recreation for Reston

From: Gordon, Leila
Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 06:55 PM
To: Stallman, Sandra; Messinger, Cindy; Bowden, David R.; Rauschenbach, Jay R.
Cc: 'beverlycosham; 'bbouie [email addresses deleted by Leila Gordon]
Subject: RCC's Continued Interest in Working with the Park Authority on Indoor Recreation for Reston
Dear Sandy, Cindy, Dave and Jay—
Per Sandy’s request, I am formally reiterating the interest of Reston Community Center in pursuing planning that would realize a comprehensive indoor recreation facility in Reston. As you know, we expressed our formal desire to have this considered within the context of the Baron Cameron Park Master Planning process currently underway and have proceeded working in parallel with you in that regard. In addition, we have requested that Fairfax County government consider this type of public facility as it master plans the areas in Reston Town Center North. As the Park Authority is also involved in that effort, I am requesting that we continue to work collaboratively to explore both options.
At its November 4 meeting, the Board of Governors accepted and endorsed their Building Committee Report and its recommendation to pursue both potential locations. We believe that continuing to work with our colleagues at the Fairfax County Park Authority is the optimum path to realizing this facility for the community of Reston.
Please let me know if you require any additional information at this time.
Warmest regards as always,
Leila Gordon
Executive Director
Reston Community Center
2310 Colts Neck Rd.
Reston, Virginia 20191

E-mail message from RCA President Colin Mills to RCC and Reston 2020:


I would just like to clarify something on this thread. Reston 2020 (R2020), although it is an RCA Committee has, since its inception, carried out its activities independently from those of RCA. Any reports and statements that it may issue do not imply approval by the RCA Board. Only when requested to do so by R2020 will the RCA Board vote on a particular position advocated by R2020.
The R2020 post on the Rec Center was not vetted or approved by the RCA Board
. With regard to the RCC's Rec Center proposal, RCA's position today remains that of the Board's May 2013 resolution, calling for more public input and recommending the creation of a joint community panel to evaluate all aspects of the issue. RCA looks forward to continuing constructive and productive discussions on the Rec Center with RCC and the Reston community.

On a personal note, I appreciate the free and open exchange of thoughts and ideas that has taken place in this thread, and I’m glad that it is being posted on the R2020 blog so that the public can see the discussion as well.

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season.


Colin Mills

President, RCA

Message from Reston 2020 to RCC and RCA President:
Thank you Colin and Leila. 

As Colin also points out in his e-mail, the RCA Board passed a resolution at its May 2013 meeting endorsing a major paper (The Reston Recreation Center Initiative:  Unanswered Questions on Need, Facilities, Location, Financing, and Decision Making,  An RCA White Paper, May 20, 2013) drafted by the Reston 2020 Committee, that challenged most of the key assumptions used to justify a Reston tax-funded recreation center located by Baron Cameron Park.  As Colin also notes, the resolution also called for a joint effort to proceed more systematically in addressing the issue.  RCC, however, rejected a joint approach in a letter to the RCA Board in August for legalistic reasons, although it did not have to.  It could have at least sought the advice of RCA, RA, and ARCH and other civic groups in its efforts, but it has so far not done so.   RCC is not constrained from seeking outside advice from the community.

I would urge that all addresses re-read the RCA white paper to assess for themselves whether the vital issues raised in it have been adequately addressed.

In fact, the issues raised in that paper, especially the questions about financial sustainability and location, and the need for openness that a joint effort would have generated are precisely what this RCC-Reston 2020 dialogue have been about.  We submit that RCC and its Board of Governors and FCPA and the Park Authority:

  • Have not, most importantly, demonstrated the financial sustainability—recovering operating costs—of a new Reston recreation center;
  • Have not demonstrated the greater desirability of locating a new recreation center in Baron Cameron Park (BCP) over locating it in Town Center North (TCN) or any other site;
  • Have not considered critically the many contributions of the community has made, including Reston 2020, on these and other facets of a decision to build a Reston recreation center and its siting. 
With that background in mind, some further comments on your latest e-mail tied to several of your numeric points:

1.  Impact on STD#5 tax rate.   “We have determined that we should wait to do so (assess the impact on STD#5 tax rates) until the issue of site, final program, and potential for proffer funding are fully explored.” 

Our thoughts:

  • We believe it is important that the community have a basic understanding of the prospective impacts—and the ability to comment on them—before the RCC Board of Governors or FCPA makes any recommendation about whether to proceed with a bond referendum. 
  • Regarding the specific issues you raise:
  • Site—We suspect that a TCN may be modestly more expensive than BCP for construction purposes, but that its nine-fold larger walk-in market (per our earlier e-mail) offers a vastly greater opportunity to recover operating costs (if not more) than the BCP site.  In addition to the 18,000 people potential of TCN, approved Spectrum Center redevelopment will generate about 2,800 additional potential customers and the 4,000 even now people living in Reston Town Center will have a short walk to a TCN recreation center locations.  That’s a walkable market potential of 25,000 people vs. well less than 10,000 people within a half-mile of BCP. 
  • Final program—There really is no such thing as a “final program.”  The program opportunities will change over time with market demand.   We think Brailsford & Dunlavey (B&D) have offered a sufficient starting point for that costing to determined, including alternative rate structures.
  • Proffer opportunities—Like the hugely larger market opportunities in TCN, the proffer opportunities for nearby public amenities from developers will be similarly larger for TCN than for BCP.  If anything, the importance of proffers in making a siting decision argues for TCN over BCP, much less a reconstruction of RCC/HW.
  • The RCLCo tax revenue forecast.  As RCL acknowledges in its report, it relied on the July 26, 2010, GMU CRA forecast for growth in the Dulles Corridor presented to the Reston Task Force (RTF).  GMU CRA downgraded this exorbitant growth forecast (which is actually based on pre-recession 2008 data used in its Tysons forecast) because of the Great Recession and sequestration/general reduction in federal spending.  As presented to the RTF and shown in theattached graphics, GMU CRA’s revised forecast cuts forecast average employment growth by 27% across the three scenario and household growth by 14% through 2050 in the Dulles Corridor.  As the graphics show, the slowest growth period is over the next decade.  Obviously, to the extent these forecasts are more accurate than their predecessors, they will have a substantial adverse effect on prospective tax revenues and, therefore, require increased local Reston tax rates to pay off the recreation center debt.  
As an alternative, we would suggest that RCC review the growth forecast produced by the Department of Planning& Zoning (DPZ) in the context of fleshing out the implications of ScenarioG through 2030 as presented to the RTF.  I have attached a copy of that EXCEL workbook (spreadsheets on jobs, housing, population by Transportation Analysis Zone (TAZ), an overview of the TSAs vs the rest of Reston, and a cumulative summary).   It is the most recent forecast of Reston growth we know of and we believe it is the most accurate.  It is certainly more accurate than RCLCo’s report, although RCLCo may be able to use the attached to revise its tax revenue forecast.  To rely on RCLCo’s current report for future tax rate calculations would be a major dis-service to Reston.

2, 3, & 5.  The best option for the Reston community is TCN as proposed by the more than two dozen diverse Reston community stakeholders comprising the RTF in its draft Reston Master Plan, not just Reston 2020 nor the RCC BOG nor FCPA.

Re a few bullets under #5:

  • What does “Reston patron privileges and considerations” mean—lower rates and priority access?
  • Re “Reston use will be subsidized”:  That means some Restonians will be paying taxes via the STD#5 local Reston tax to subsidize other Restonians’ use of the recreation center.  We continue to believe the rec center is a County responsibility that ought to be paid for by all the county's property owners as we have previously stated and, therefore, don't see a need for subsidized Restonian use beyond the subsidies available in other County rec centers.
Moreover, even if RCC and FCPA insist that STD#5 pay for a county facility, we do not believe a subsidy policy for Restonians ought to be adopted a priori when the median HHI in Reston exceeds $100,000 and B&D’s latest update reports 77% of Reston households have incomes exceeding $75,000.  We anticipate that the usage of the rec center would reasonably to be in line with the distribution of household incomes, if not skewed toward those with higher incomes.
We appreciate that RCC has provided—and ought to continue to provide—specific subsidies for needy families and individuals, a policy consistent with Reston’s long-held accommodation for people of all incomes.  That said, the majority of Reston households with six-figure incomes who use the rec center ought to be at least able to pay fees that cover their full cost, including capital costs.  Rates for users beyond Reston ought to be at a sufficient premium above full cost to assure that Restonians are the majority users of the facility.  A recreation center is an amenity that, in general, ought to be paid for by those who use it, subject to subsidies for those with significant financial hardships.
  • Re population growth, please note the comments above regarding the much reduced forecasts for employment and household growth in the Dulles Corridor and the data in our attachment.
Thank you for your feedback.  We hope this additional information figures in your further consideration of a Reston recreation center.


Terry Maynard

Co-Chair, RCA Reston 2020 Committee

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