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Comment on Rec Center Proposal--Dick Rogers

Comment on Rec Center Proposal--Dick Rogers

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Published by Terry Maynard
Dick Rogers, RCA Reston 2020 Committee, questions the selection of the Baron Cameron Park area for a proposed Reston Recreation Center. He discusses his concerns and offers alternatives.
Dick Rogers, RCA Reston 2020 Committee, questions the selection of the Baron Cameron Park area for a proposed Reston Recreation Center. He discusses his concerns and offers alternatives.

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Published by: Terry Maynard on Feb 24, 2013
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R. Rogers20 Feb 2013Comment on a Possible Baron CameronRec Center
The RestonCommunityCenter appears to be rapidly moving forward on a proposal for anew RestonRecreationCenterat Baron Cameron Parkway. A series ofmeetingshasbeenannounced,a consultant is apparentlypreparing a report,and financial work isgoing on.Bill Bouie, head oftheFairfaxCountyParksAuthority (FCPA)has apparentlyendorsed the proposal.Details available so far are skimpy.RestonPatchestimated the cost as$35-$50 millionbased on the cost for the BrownsChapel project that failedseveralyears ago.Bouiewasquoted inPatch as saying that residents of Small; TaxDistrict (STD) # 5 would payfor it(that is you andme, not the whole county!).Presumably further details will emergeat themeetings noted at the end of this comment.Obviously RCA should supporta properlylocated and financedRecreationCenter. Sucha facility is badly neededand demandwouldbehigh.A serious 50 meter poolandaquaticsfacility would be welcomed, as would aRec Centerwith avarietyof indoor andfacilities. Itcouldevenprovidesome protectedoutdoor courts for tennis, for which thereseem to be aninsatiable demand.However, in my view there are two major issues that need to be studiedbefore a RedCenter decision is taken.
Location: What is the best place for it? Ideally, a Rec Center should be:
On county orRA land to keep expense down.
Have the substantial space needed for the facility (estimated to be a 100,000 sqfoot building) plus extensive parking.
Be as close as possible to the proposed new centers of residential development inReston so many may walk or bike thereeasily.
Be near publictransport
for easy access by those who can’t walk or bike there
Be welcomed by its neighbors.
Who will pay for it?
Several locationshave been mentioned over time for aRestonRec Center. Whether RCChas doneaformal analysis of these alternatives is not clear.
TheBaron CameronAlternative
:Thissite is clearly attractive since it has a largeamount of county-owned semi-developed space.
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 Need for a high school
:The major issue, as TammiPetrinehasnoted, isthat thisproperty had long been earmarked as the site for a new Reston HighSchoolandMiddleSchool. As Restonpopulationgrowth subsided, the county transferred the landa fewyearsago to FCPA.Thehigh schoolcrowdingsituation is already becomingsevere. Projections made a fewyears ago by FCPublic Schools (FCPS)showed South Lakeshundreds of studentsovercapacityin the next few years. Herndon HS isalsoexpected to be over capacity. (Needupdate projections and info on Great Falls HS)The county school demographers only project a few years ahead based on clearly evidentschool population trends. For that reason they have not provided theReston Task Forcewith any serious projections beyond about 2018. YetTask Forceprojections suggest thatReston
populationmayincrease by 40,000 people by 2030with development aroundthe TOD areas. More development may be expected aroundthe villagecenters if re-development isapproved there.Althoughmuch of this new population will be younger people, couples at the pre-childbearingperiod, andolder coupleswho are empty nesters, FCPS school projectionsindicate that theschool system could stillexpect asubstantial schoolpopulationamongthe new residents.Unfortunately, theTask Forcehasnotgotten seriously engaged in the school issue.EventheTask Force
Vision Com left this issue as “TBD.”
It is assumed thatanyneededelementary schools could bebuiltas part of commercial development on the groundfloors. But a high school with its associated library, theater,cafeteria,andindoor andoutdoorrecreational facilitiesneeds a lot more room.Baron Cameronis the one place inReston that could potentially accommodate it.Until Reston, Herndonthe WesternGreat Falls area can clearlyrule out the need for anew high school/middle school, Baron Cameron should beprotected
Other site-related issues
There is very limited public transport to the area (oneinfrequent RIBs bus and rush hour bus), so we will have a car dependent facility.The BaronCameronarea is almost two miles from the projected sites for more intensivedevelopment inReston (the TOD areas).And that means developers will have littleincentive to underwritepart of the cost, and yet the vast majority of Reston populationgrowth will be generated by TOD development.
TheTall OaksAlternative:
This villagecenter hadbeen mentioned as the site for aRecCenter, including in the RCAReston2020working grouppaperon parks and facilities(writtenby RCC head Leila Gordon). It noted that theunderutilized center might be reprogrammed and theRec Centertiedinto the existing RA pool across the street.
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A principalobstacle to utilizing this site is the cost of acquisition. Although theVillageCenteris only partly occupied, the owner would presumably hold outfor asmuch as hecould get.Like Baron Cameron,this is not a hub for transit so it too would be a car dependentfacilityand, like Baron Cameron,a RIBsbusstops there, among others. It is located only¾miles for the heart of the Wiehle station TOD district, but for many this will be beyondwalking distance. It is also unclear what will emergefromPart2of the Reston planningprocess about alternativeuses for this area.
TheTown Center North(TCN)Alternative
:TheCountyhas 20 acres here, onlypartially developed. Some of thisspace iscommitted to a rebuilt police station, a newlibrary facility, a possible newgovernmental center,and a potential new fire station.It probablywould providean adequate site for aRec Center, particularly if it werecombinedin a building withsome of the other potential civic users.The areaisadjacent topotentialTown Center residentialdevelopment north of the tollroad and amidst plannedresidential development in North Town Center.It will be linked to Town Center, the Reston station and the Reston Town Center busstation by a proposed shuttle serving the NTC area.Parking will be a consideration because of the space required. Atthispoint there are nogarages planned in NTC but that could be one solution.Also, depending on location itcould use existing TC garages southof OldDominion Drive.
One issue is that the “
Town centerestablishment
” in the
form of the Town CenterTask ForceSub-committeeas well as INOVA, owner of the 20 acres not owned by the county,has not been particularlyenthusiastic aboutsupportingcivicfacilitiesthere. This wasshown by their scrubbingduring the planning processof ambitious park proposals infavor of a smallordinary green. INOVA seems intent on maximizing its profit fromdevelopment of its propertyrather than helping out Reston.
TheWiehle Station AreaAlternative
:This area alsocontains county owned propertythat could beturned into aRec Center. This is thesouthwest corner ofLake FairfaxParat the end ofClay lane andeast of Roger Bacon Driveand north of Sunset Hills onFaraday Court. There are topographic issues associated with this area that would need tobe studied since after several hundred feetthe land slopes down totributariesleading toLakeFairfax. Thearea is near theNational Wildlife Federationheadquartersand withinwalking distance of theexisting ice rink. Itcould also be linked by better connections tothe Lake Fairfax outdoor recreation areas to theeast.It is very near the W&OD trail.One advantage is that this area is just on the ½ miles TOD line from Wiehlestation. It isnear the proposedresidentialdevelopment of Isaac Newton Square and various suggestedresidential developmentsnorthof the W&OD trail.(Oddly, the immediate area to the
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