Reston Citizens Association

The Reston Recreation Center Initiative:
Unanswered Questions on Need, Facilities, Location, Financing, and Decision Making
An RCA White Paper

May 20, 2013 (Revised)

Reston Citizens Association

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Reston Citizens Association

Table of Contents
Executive Summary ...................................................................................................................................... 4 Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 6 Background ................................................................................................................................................... 8 Do we need a recreation center in Reston? ..............................................................................................10 What facilities and services should a new recreation center offer? ........................................................13 Where should the new center be located? ...............................................................................................16 How much will operating a new recreation center cost and how should it be financed? ......................18 How do we make the best decision for Reston? .......................................................................................24

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Reston Citizens Association

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Reston Citizens Association

The Reston Recreation Center Initiative: Unanswered Questions on Need, Facilities, Location, Financing, and Decision Making
An RCA White Paper May 20, 2013 (Revised)

Executive Summary For the second time in a half-dozen years, Reston Community Center (RCC) has proposed the construction and operation of recreation center in Reston. It has proposed that the recreation center be located at Baron Cameron Park and financed through Small Tax District #5—a real estate property tax covering all Reston residences and businesses. The proposal would need the approval of the majority of Reston voters in a bond referendum before a recreation center could be built. Before deciding on whether Reston should proceed with this major initiative, a number of key issues need to be addressed. Drawing on work by Brailsford & Dunlavey (B&D), market consultants to RCC on this project, and Robert Charles Lesser Company (RCLCo), this paper identifies key issues and some of the important considerations in a decision on whether and how to proceed with construction of a Reston Recreation Center. Community need. Certainly the most important issue in moving forward is determining whether Reston needs a recreation center. Strangely, neither the 2009 B&D market study1 nor earlier RCC and RA surveys definitively answered that question. In reporting on earlier RCC and RA efforts, it does not show unambiguously that there is a need nor even that the center would be viable. The B&D study does not say that a Reston recreation center would be viable nor does it recommend (nor does it reject) a recreation center based on need. None of the work puts the need for a recreation center in the context of other important Reston community needs, especially in light of Reston’s expected growth around the Metrorail stations. The mixed picture concerning the adequacy of major indoor recreation facilities in and around Reston does not point unambiguously to either the need or the absence of need for a recreation center in Reston. We hope that the new market study being prepared by B&D will help clarify this picture. Facilities and Services. The 2009 B&D study laid out three facility options—basic, standard, and comprehensive, ranging in size from 119,000SF to 193,000SF—that reflected a close look at a wide range of capabilities that could be included in a new Reston recreation center. Early this month, B&D updated its proposal by presenting two smaller options, a 62,850SF Option A and a 98,000SF Option B, neither of which included indoor tennis courts. We suggest consideration of some additional facilities for youths and senior citizens. Broadly speaking, we believe a Reston recreation center should be comprehensive in its capabilities and able to serve a growing community for decades if it is built.
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B&D is in the process of updating its 2009 study for RCC.

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Reston Citizens Association Location. RCC’s proposal to locate the new recreation center at Baron Cameron Park has met with criticism from nearby residents and others. Other potential sites include Tall Oaks Center, Isaac Newton Square, southwest Lake Fairfax Park, and park land in Town Center North. A comprehensive and balanced analysis needs to be undertaken to determine the best location for a Reston recreation center. We suggest the at least the following criteria should be used in site selection: minimizing land costs, maximizing immediate proximity to potential Reston users, minimizing disruption of existing community uses and values, and adequate parking space. Financing. RCC also proposes to finance a new recreation center through the existing Reston tax district, subject to community approval in a bond referendum. Based on our necessarily preliminary assessment, we believe it may be possible to build and operate a Reston recreation center without raising the current $.047 per $100 valuation Reston special tax rate, subject to several conditions. With two other exceptions, however, the public recreation centers in the County are financed within the County’s general real estate property tax—and this approach could be appropriate for Reston. We understand that County bond and funding ability for a new recreation center may not be available for a decade, possibly delaying recreation center construction. There also exists the possibility of partnerships between RCC and FCPA as well as with the private sector to ease the financial burden on all of them. In particular, we identify some criteria for examining whether a recreation center funded by Reston taxes alone, including:  Who would be the primary users of the recreation center, Restonians or non-residents?  Can we reasonably expect a new Reston recreation center to recover most of its operating costs through operating revenues as other “successful” recreation centers do?  Does have RCC have an ample Capital Project Reserve as a down payment toward building a new recreation center to ease the financing burden? Possibly the most important consideration in this effort is the decision process the community uses to decide whether and how to proceed. We believe that this decision should not be RCC’s alone despite the noteworthy preliminary work it has done in developing its proposal and reaching out to the community. We believe a more appropriate alternative for making this important community decision would be to create a small panel of representatives from RCC, RA, and RCA to assess the merits of the idea and develop a specific recommendation on whether the community should pursue a recreation center, what facilities and services it should provide, where it should be located, and how it should be financed before proceeding to a public bond referendum on a proposal. After the Panel assembles its recommendations, multiple community fora should be conducted to inform community of results and receive community input. In this way, we believe that all the community’s equities will be represented and considered in the fairest possible way. This process can be accomplished either within the current budget planning cycle or by tabling the RCC proposal for one year.

REVISION: We have updated the total cost estimate shown on pp. 14-15 to reflect the special costs as well as the baseline costs of constructing a new recreation center as currently proposed on a “per square foot” basis. This increases the estimated cost of the recreation center considerably.

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Reston Citizens Association

The Reston Recreation Center Initiative: Unanswered Questions on Need, Facilities, Location, Financing, and Decision Making
An RCA White Paper May 20, 2013 (Revised)

Introduction For the second time in a half-dozen years, the Reston Community Center (RCC) has proposed the construction of a Reston Recreation Center. Unlike its last joint proposal with the Reston Association (RA), this proposal is sponsored unilaterally by RCC with a vision of building a recreation center on County park land at Baron Cameron Park to be financed through Reston’s Small Tax District #5 (STD#5). Brailsford and Dunlavey (B&D), the consultants working with RCC in developing the recreation center proposal, this week laid out two new options for a recreation center, one 62,850 square feet in size, the other 98,000 square feet. The key spatial differences in these options are the size of the swimming pool (25 yards or 50 meters) and the addition of a second gymnasium. Further market analysis, details on the options, and financial analysis will be in B&D’s final report to be available on June 3, 2013. The RCC Board of Governors has scheduled their budget hearing on June 17, 2013, to consider the report and its implications for including a recreation center proposal in the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) 2015 master plan. By early 2014, RCC and FCPA must decide definitively whether to proceed with the initiative in its current form. If so, they will place the matter to a bond referendum in November 2014 to be decided by the voters in Reston. The proposal, like its predecessor in 2009, has generated a great deal of discussion if not controversy in the Reston community. Aside from those who are opposed to the idea in general—usually offering that there are already public and private recreational facilities available in the community—the most controversial point seems to be its proposed location at Baron Cameron Park. At least some portion of the 10 sports fields and/or dog park2 on the 68-acre site there would have to be eliminated to make room for the 5-acre recreation center and associated parking. Others are also concerned about further increasing high real estate taxes on our community, especially the extra tax Reston residents and businesses pay represented by STD#5 in addition to their regular real estate tax and, for most residents, annual RA fees. Consistent with their concerns about higher Reston property taxes, many also believe
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FCPA officials have assured RCA that there will be a dog park at Baron Cameron Park whether or not a recreation center is located there.

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Reston Citizens Association that the County should build and operate a recreation center, especially since no major County recreation center now exists in Hunter Mill District.3 Together these issues, many of which are affected by the other issues in this list, are at the forefront of the ongoing discussion:  Do we need a recreation center in Reston? What criteria should be used in making this major economic development decision? Who would the facility serve? What support is there for a Reston recreation center—and under what conditions? What about the availability of public and commercial alternative fitness centers in and near Reston with varying capabilities and costs? What facilities and services should a new recreation center offer? Should it be a natatorium or a “full-service” recreation center offering a wide range of capabilities and programs? Do we need a 50-meter pool? …indoor tennis facilities? …gymnasium? What other athletic facilities should be included? What non-athletic facilities should it also include? Where should the new center be located? How much space is needed for the structure and necessary parking? Should it be located on public or currently private land? Should it replace an existing desired public use? Should it be within easy walking distance of a current or prospective population or transportation center? How should a new recreation center be financed? Is the STD#5 framework the most appropriate way to finance the construction and operation of the new recreation center? Should it be financed by the County under a general bond obligation? What other ways of financing the center could be effective? How do we make the best decision for Reston? Is the proposal by RCC and its presentations and discussion groups sufficient for a decision to move forward with a bond proposal? What about the equities of other interested community parties, such as RA and RCA—and maybe even the private sector with which this would compete?

In the balance of this paper, we take a look at these issues, try to identify what we believe are some of the key issues in picking the best option for Reston. In the end, we recommend a way to make a decision that we believe will best serve all Restonians in moving forward with a recreation center decision.

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The County does sponsor a small neighborhood recreation center at Southgate in Reston.

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Reston Citizens Association Background The idea of building a recreation center in Reston has been in the community’s mind for well over a decade.4 Finding the current RCC facilities inadequate or lacking key recreation capabilities, the strongest advocates for a new rec center want a 50-meter swimming pool and indoor tennis courts among other athletic features. Many others worried about the cost of such a facility and its location if one were built. The first serious effort to launch such an initiative was taken by RCC and Reston Association (RA) in autumn 2008 when they jointly proposed that RCC would build a recreation center, funded by tax revenues from the Reston property tax Small Tax District #5, on land owned by RA, specifically at Brown’s Chapel. Many Restonians were critical of the “secret” nature of the formulation of this partnership, which was not generally disclosed to Restonians until the two parties offered the specific proposal. A citizens group comprised primarily of people living near Brown’s Chapel strongly and effectively objected to the proposed location of the recreation center. Others objected to the impact of the recreation center on their property taxes. After numerous public meetings by both RCC and RA on the proposal, the RA Board of Directors decided not to proceed with the needed referendum to convey the RA open space to the construction of the proposed recreation center. In February 2013, RCC launched its own public initiative to build a recreation center. According to a member of the RCC Board of Governors, it discussed a number of options for a new recreation center before developing the option presented to the public although there is no record of those discussions in the meeting of the Board or its two key committees, Finance and Long Term Planning. RCC hosted a public meeting to present the proposal and notified RCC program members and users of the upcoming event as reported in Reston Patch, February 11, 2013. RCC’s proposal calls for the construction of a recreation center at Baron Cameron Park to be financed by tax revenues from STD#5. RCC identified a number of opportunities over the next few months to comment on the proposal, including a focus group meeting held on February 25 to identify facility capabilities wanted by the community, but not the merits of the proposal to build a recreation center. The proposal was also the principal topic of discussion at a local public meeting held by FCPA in formulating its master plan for the development of the Baron Cameron Park. Scores of different citizens have spoken at these opportunities on a wide variety of issues related to its construction. The Reston Citizens Association (RCA) sponsored a community forum on March 27, 2013, which brought out more than 100 Reston residents with diverse views on where the center should be located, what facilities it should contain, how it should be financed, and even whether one should be built. The specific nature of the facilities would be largely determined on the basis of a market study conducted by Brailsford & Dunlavey (B&D), who prepared a similar report in 2009 for the joint RCC-RA effort. On May 6, B&D advised a public meeting that they were examining two recreation center options—a 62,850 SF and a 98,000 SF option—both much smaller than the options they studied in 2009. This and other information on the proposal, including public comments, were reported in Reston Patch. B&D continues to work on the market and financial assessment for these options and is scheduled to present its report to RCC on June 3.
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The GMU Reston Archives includes an April 11,1999, draft article written by William Nicoson, former RA committee chairman and publisher of Reston Connection, on the benefits of an RCC-RA joint effort to build a Reston recreation center.

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Reston Citizens Association Robert Charles Lesser Company (RCLCo), a major area commercial real estate brokerage, has prepared a study of likely STD#5 tax revenues to finance the recreation center. It also submitted a forecast of land acquisition costs for the general areas in which a Reston recreation center might be located. The RCC Board of Governors is set to hold a hearing on June 17, 2013, before submitting its proposal to the County for inclusion in its planning process. The issue could be included as an STD#5 bond referendum as early as November 2014. Given the importance of the issue of a recreation center in Reston and the controversy surrounding the RCC proposal, the Reston Citizens Association Board of Directors decided to look at the issues involved in determining whether and how to proceed with a Reston recreation center initiative. The following sections are the product of those discussions.

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Reston Citizens Association Do we need a recreation center in Reston? Reston is a community of some 60,000 residents and about an equal number of employees. Current Fairfax County population and employment forecast data indicate the number of both is likely to grow to the upper 80,000s by 2030, largely on development around the community’s three new Metrorail stations. It currently has a wide variety of outdoor recreational facilities provided by RA and some limited indoor recreation capabilities at the RCC at Hunters Woods. Yet, the community does not have an indoor recreation center to meet its current or prospective needs. The question of need was examined by Brailsford and Dunlavey (B&D) in their 2009 feasibility and market analysis prepared in conjunction with the failed joint RCC-RA recreation center initiative. Strangely, the report does not make a recommendation for or against the construction of a recreation center based on need. Its conclusion is as follows: Together, RA and RCC offer a breadth of recreation programs and services to the residents of Reston. Demand for the organizations’ expansive programs exceeds the supply of Reston’s indoor and outdoor facilities. The limited number and size of indoor recreation facilities located within the Reston community forces interested residents participating in indoor tennis and aquatics programs to seek neighboring community centers. These participants report traveling thirty minutes to one hour to utilize an indoor tennis and/or aquatics facility. One of the strategic goals established by Reston Association is to provide well-maintained parklands and achieve a balance of quality services, facilities, and programs. The ability to achieve this balance involves the need to address demands for indoor recreation spaces. While funding for RA tennis and aquatics facilities is subsidized by an annual RA Assessment Fee, RCC facilities and programs are supported by the tax revenues of Small District 5 collected from residential and commercial properties in Reston. As the feasibility of a joint indoor recreation center is explored, resident and non-resident user rates will need to be assessed to determine the financial viability of the proposed project. In 2009, B&D was clearly uncertain about the financial viability of the proposed project as it was then being presented with some very large recreation center options ranging from 119,000SF to 173,000SF in size.5 The B&D analysis also cites several predecessor reports produced by RCC and RA that speak to the issue of a recreation center in Reston. Among these are:  B&D reports that, among the recommendations in the 2005 RA parks, recreation, and open space (PROS), were the following: o Reallocate resources to achieve balance and sustainability in facilities. o Reallocate/utilize resource to potential development of indoor/year-round pools. o Position Reston to support year-round recreation for all age segments by developing a series of signature recreation facilities that support modern recreation trends while leveraging equitable partnerships. Determine feasibility of indoor recreation, swimming, and tennis facilities.
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Currently, the largest public recreation center in Fairfax County is the Lee District recreation center at 83,600 square feet.

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Reston Citizens Association Develop a feasibility study for an indoor recreation center that can serve RA members. The center should include gymnasium space, fitness, meeting and hospitality space, and potentially indoor aquatic and indoor tennis space.  In the 2007 RCC Community Survey,”Residents were asked to give their input as RCC considers investment in the expansion of specific areas. Respondents indicated support for additional art studios and dedicated fitness rooms as the two most important features of a new facility. Dedicated fitness rooms had the most support from those who lived in Reston the shortest time.” Although the 2005 RA PROS report calls for examining the feasibility of a recreation center and even offers the idea of partnerships to make it happen, neither of these (nor a 1993 RA study) appears to identify a specific need nor make a specific recommendation for a Reston recreation center. o As part of its market analysis, B&D examined Restonians’ access to key types of indoor recreation facilities around Reston. Among these were their following observations followed by our thoughts:  Tennis. According to its B&D’s 2009 report, there were 109 indoor tennis courts within a halfhour drive of Reston. This included 13 public courts and 30 commercial courts for a total of 43 available for Restonians’ use.6 Although Reston tennis players have been vocal in their assertion of a need for an indoor tennis facility, it is not clear that there is a shortage of reasonably accessible indoor tennis courts. This may be an issue RA should address to meet its members’ needs, if they determine there is one.  Swimming. In its May 2013 market update, B&D identifies 16 public recreation centers in nearby Northern Virginia with indoor aquatic facilities. Five of these have 50-meter competition pools, including the recreation centers in Sterling (Claude Moore) and Oakton (Oak Marr). Twelve have 25-yard competition pools and five have leisure pools. Four private fitness centers have indoor pools including three Sport & Health Clubs (Herndon, Tysons, and McLean) and the forthcoming Lifetime Fitness Club in Reston. The RCC-Hunters Woods facility has a well-used 25-yard indoor pool as well.  Weight and Fitness. There were 16 private health clubs with substantial, but diverse capabilities within a 15-minute drive of Reston, according to B&D’s 2009 report, which has not yet been updated. Seven of these health clubs were in Reston and three were in Herndon, including the largest, Worldgate Sports & Health Club. A new fitness center, Crunch Fitness, is planned for Reston Town Center. The diversity of these facilities from specialized facilities (Curves, Bikram Yoga) to large full-service health clubs points to the range of fitness needs that is already being addressed in and around Reston. Some facility directors pointed to a need for more fitness training space. Overall, however, it is unclear whether existing or planned weight and fitness center space—including the 114,000 square foot Lifetime Athletic Reston now under construction—is adequate and sufficiently accessible. The mixed picture concerning major indoor recreation facilities in and around Reston does not conclusively determine either the need or the absence of need for a recreation center in Reston. We hope that the new market study being prepared by B&D will help clarify this picture. The question of the need for a recreation center also must be considered in the context of other Reston community needs, especially as the community tries to accommodate the demands of major transitoriented development initiative along the Dulles Corridor. Some of these needs include:

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Since any proposed Reston recreation center would charge for tennis court usage, we do not distinguish here between public and commercial courts. We have excluded indoor courts at private clubs.

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Reston Citizens Association New schools to accommodate a growing student population. FCPS has identified a long-term need for two elementary schools and half of a middle and high school over the next 20 years if Reston grows as planned in the deliberations of the Reston Master Plan Task Force (RTF).  Major improvements in transportation to accommodate TOD area residents and employees. Rough estimates of the needed three crossings of the Dulles Corridor alone are put at about a half-billion dollars. Other roadway, pathway, and bicycling improvements as well as much expanded transit service are also required. These vital and expensive improvements may become the basis for a Reston tax service district as has occurred in Tysons to facilitate its development.7  A 21st century regional public library to address the needs of residents and others in this “knowledge corridor.” Although County residents already passed a bond that included funds for a new Reston Regional Library, those funds were diverted to improve libraries elsewhere. The current library is under-sized and outdated and must be replaced.  Repairs, improvements, reconstruction, and additions to major RA infrastructure elements. RA has rightly started thinking about the need to set aside funds to address some very expensive infrastructure upkeep and updating requirements, including the dams for its major lakes, and the influx of new residents—who may or may not be RA members—that may require new RA facilities and services. There are limits to the resources of Restonians and the County in addressing the wide variety of needs our community will face in the coming decades. It is unclear how a recreation center fits in the prioritization of these needs against the resources available to the community. 

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A Tysons Transportation Service District covering the Tysons area was approved by the Board of Supervisors in January 2013. The Board has approved a tax rate for the district of $.04 per $100 valuation for FY 2014. Longer term, it is expected that the rate may climb to $.08 per $100 valuation as development there requires. Reston may need a similar tax, possibly at half that added rate, applied either to the Reston transit station areas or the community as a whole. A developer representative on the RTF has stated that the building of three priority crossings of the Dulles Corridor will cost a half-billion dollars alone. Numerous other transportation improvements are also required to meet the requirements of the development plan proposed for the Metrorail station areas.

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Reston Citizens Association What facilities and services should a new recreation center offer? In 2009, B&D conducted a thorough market analysis of the types of facilities Restonians would like to see in a new recreation center and who would use them. The 2009 report highlighted three alternative concepts for a new recreation center—base, standard, and comprehensive. The following graphic summarizes the facilities and size each of these options proposed: Summary Description & Cost of Three Reston Recreation Center Facilities Concepts, 2009 (Brailsford & Dunlavey Report, 2009)

B&D was asked by RCC to update this market analysis and is proceeding on the effort now. On May 6, 2013, it gave an update to the community on its market research and suggested two new, smaller options for a possible Reston recreation center: 62,850SF option (Option A) and a 98,000SF option (Option B). (See graphic below.) The most significant difference between the two is the construction of a 50-meter swimming pool in the larger option. The larger option also would provide more space for other facilities as well.

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Reston Citizens Association

The Price of a New Recreation Center B&D has not yet developed updated financial information for its two new options as of this writing. Nonetheless, we can take a necessarily preliminary look at what the cost of construction and operation of a new recreation center by updating the many factors and analysis in B&D’s 2009 study. Overall, we would anticipate that a new recreation center and associated surface parking would cost between $22-$40 million based on the May 6, 2013, B&D presentation to the community of two new options for sizing a recreation center.   We would anticipate Option A (62,850SF) and its associated surface parking would cost between $22.0-$27.8 million to construct. The larger Option B (98,000SF) and its parking would cost between $34.8-$39.5 million to build. It is very similar in facilities scope and size to the earlier “base” option (119,000 SF) except that it excludes the four tennis courts in the earlier proposal. As outlined in this presentation, Option B would have a larger weight & fitness capability than the 2009 “base” option, but it would not have spectator seating in the swimming or gymnasium areas. It also does not mention the “enterprise” areas listed in the earlier study, but we expect some space will be devoted to these business office purposes.

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Reston Citizens Association

Our Process for Costing a Recreation Center B&D’s 2009 study showed costs ranging from $285-$318 per square foot depending on the size of the option, the smaller option having the steepest cost per square foot. We believe construction costs have escalated by 5%-15% since then as a result of inflation. In addition, consistent with the earlier increases in square footage cost as center size decreases, we would anticipate that cost per square foot would increase by $0.61 per 1,000 square feet of reduced recreation center space. Our costing is consistent with other more recent assessments of recreation center construction costs nationwide that we have reviewed. As a result, we believe the construction costs would range from $21.2-$26.6 million for Option A and $34.0-$37.3 million for Option B. In addition, B&D’s update sees a requirement for 225-250 parking spaces, which would add $600,000$750,000 to the center’s total cost. We believe this parking space requirement is generally low, especially if the larger sized facility option is selected and placed in a suburban location, even if B&D’s stated count meets the County's zoning requirement. While 250 spaces may suffice for the smaller option in an urban setting with abundant commercial parking nearby and greater walk-in participation, we would expect that 400 or more spaces would be needed for the larger option in a suburban setting, costing $750,000 to $1.2 million at $3,000 per space, the price B&D used for surface parking in its 2009 study. If a recreation center was built on privately-held land, there would be additional land acquisition costs. Robert Charles Lesser Co. (RCLCo), in a report just completed for RCC, suggests that the cost of five acres of land for a recreation center site, including parking, could run anywhere from $1.6-$10 million in 2014 depending on the desirability its location. We assume here that the recreation center will be built on County land at no additional land acquisition cost. Other than the indoor tennis courts specifically excluded in the two recent options, we can think of few other major facility elements that such a recreation facility might include to meet Restonians’ needs over the next several decades. Nonetheless, we believe it would be worthwhile to look more closely at the recreation center as a social center for seniors and youth.  Seniors may require some additional capabilities—board/card game rooms, reading rooms, discussion areas—where they could meet, although the Reston Community Center might be able to meet these needs.  Reston youth might find the facility more appealing if it included a digital video game room along with air hockey, foosball, and other table top game facilities. These capabilities would need to be articulated with the participation of seniors and youths in focus group arrangements. In general, our sense of public interest in a new recreation center is that it ought to be as comprehensive as feasible in meeting the diverse recreational needs of this community—and meeting the future needs of its growing population—for decades to come. We expect the updated B&D market report will provide a good sense of what is needed.

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Reston Citizens Association Where should the new center be located? At the moment, the location of a possible recreation center may be the most contentious issue in the debate about the construction a new recreation center. The proposed Baron Cameron Park location has been the subject of many comments at the RCA-sponsored public meeting, various RCC Board, committee, and public meetings, the FCPA public hearing on the Baron Cameron Park master plan, dialogues in online newspapers and blogs, and other commentary suggest. The Baron Cameron Park location proposed by RCC has met with vocal neighborhood opposition about both losing some valued facilities, most notably the local dog park, as well as open space, and adding traffic that a new recreation facility will generate. Other possible locations have been identified and discussed to some extent, including:  Tall Oaks shopping center. The near-vacant shopping center may be ripe for acquisition by the County although there are no current plans to do so. This location would be relatively near the Wiehle Metrorail station.  Isaac Newton Square. Another under-utilized office development area that the County could acquire, although there are no indications the owners would sell, and has been identified by the Reston Task Force (RTF) as a logical place for high-density housing near Wiehle station.  The southwest corner of Lake Fairfax Park. The park backs up to the end of Business Center Drive, the end of Michael Faraday Court to the south, and the end of Isaac Newton Square South east of the fast food drive-throughs off Wiehle Avenue Clay Court to the east. Access from any of these streets would require acquisition of right-of-way and construction over some difficult terrain.  Undeveloped FCPA park land in Town Center North. The FCPA owns five acres of undeveloped land just south of the INOVA Urgent Care facility. The size of property is ideal for the intended purpose, but the site itself may not be ideal for recreation center construction. The County is in discussions with INOVA, the other major landowner in this area, about re-parceling their land so a more suitable Town Center North site may be achievable. As this brief listing suggests, none of the locations is singularly superior to the others; each has its strengths and weaknesses. In this situation, we think that several criteria should be used to identify which locations would be most appropriate for a new Reston Recreation Center. These are:  Minimizing land costs.  Maximizing immediate proximity to potential Reston users.  Minimizing disruption of existing community uses and values.  Space for sufficient parking. Minimize land costs. Minimizing land cost will substantially reduce the overall cost of building a new recreation center. In this context, building on land already owned by FCPA is far preferable to privately held land—or even to FCPA land that requires acquiring an access right-of-way. In this context, the preferred locations for the recreation center appear to be either Baron Cameron Park, Town Center North, or Lake Fairfax Park (subject to reasonable access right-of-way costs) on land already owned and administered by FCPA. Maximize immediate proximity to Reston users. Restonians ought to be able to walk to the new recreation center in large numbers. In general, this means being in or close to one of the transit station areas, the locus of Reston major population and employment growth for many decades to come. The sites closest to the transit stations are Lake Fairfax Park and Isaac Newton Square. On the other hand, 16

Reston Citizens Association Town Center North will be the focal point for high-density residential development and near existing residents in Reston Town Center. From the perspective of the Reston Master Plan Task Force, its Town Center Sub-committee recommended Town Center North as an appropriate location for a recreation center along with other public uses.8 The Baron Cameron Park location is within walking distance of the planned residential-centric mid-density redevelopment around Lake Anne Village Center. The Tall Oaks Center is in an area of townhouses and single-family homes, but there are no plans for their redevelopment into higher density housing of which we are aware. Minimizing disruption of existing community uses and values. Like the physician’s creed, “First do no harm,” we need to consider how not to undermine current uses or community values in making a decision about a recreation center location. In part, this is the flip side of minimizing land costs because both the Isaac Newton Square and Tall Oaks locations have substantial potential for commercial redevelopment with the coming of Metrorail—making the cost of their acquisition by the County all the more expensive. Baron Cameron Park has a variety of recreational facilities that are valued and heavily used, including various playing fields (of which there is already a shortage) and the dog park. Also, from an environmental perspective, we sense a strong feeling among many Restonians that all existing public open space should be preserved for its own sake, and a half-dozen or so acres of land would be needed to build a new recreation center and associated parking surface parking lot. At the other end of the spectrum is the undeveloped FCPA land in Town Center North which is not being used for any public purpose although it serves as an area where several homeless people live. And, in all these cases, we need to consider Reston’s longstanding value of open space and protection of the environment, both key planning principles for the community. Space for sufficient parking. Providing parking for visitors and staff will also be an important element of the facility’s capabilities. Without sufficient parking, the facility will almost certainly be under-utilized or nearby streets, parking facilities, and neighborhoods will be over-burdened with recreation center traffic. The actual size of the parking lot needed for a recreation center is somewhat flexible, however, depending on the recreation center’s location. We expect that fewer parking spaces will be required if the facility is located in a high-density urban residential location because more people will be able to walk or bicycle to the center. Nonetheless, we anticipate that 98,000 square foot recreation center would require at least 400 parking places in a suburban setting, which—based on B&D’s estimated cost of $3,000 each for surface parking and 300 square feet per space (including aisles)—would require about 2¾ acres and cost about $1.2 million to construct.9 Placed in an urban setting with plentiful commercial parking nearby and an opportunity for substantial walk-in traffic, the recreation center may need only 300 spaces. That would cost about $900,000 and require about two acres of land. There may be other sites and other important criteria for evaluating the appropriate location of a new Reston Recreation Center that need to be identified and the alternatives evaluated, but we offer this as a starting for a broader discussion on deciding where to locate this new facility. Most importantly, by doing a formal evaluation of the sites, we will broaden the conversation on where a recreation center should be located.

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p. 35, Report of the Town Center Committee for the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force, October 5, 2010.
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For comparison purposes, nearby Oak Marr Recreation Center, a 56,000 GSF facility that shares space with athletic fields, has more than 400 parking spaces in its suburban setting. At McLean’s Spring Hill Recreation Center, two playing fields were converted to parking to accommodate unexpected demand for the center’s use.

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Reston Citizens Association How much will operating a new recreation center cost and how should it be financed? Operating Costs of a New Recreation Center As discussed above, our preliminary estimate of the cost of building a new Reston recreation center runs from roughly $15-$25 million, a cost that would need to be financed through issuance of a County bond. We believe the annual debt service coverage cost for 100% financing by a 20-year AA or better general obligation bond at 2.5% interest would be between $1.0-$1.9 million per year depending on the building option, debt service coverage requirement, and payment method. (B&D used a mortgage amortization payment process in its 2009 payment forecast, but bond payments are not amortized over the duration of the bond, i.e.—the payments don’t “buy down” the principal. Interest is paid on the full principal with the principal paid off at the end of period, subject to recall and other pre-payment opportunities stated in the bond issuance. This increases the overall annual capital expense requirement.) Based on the average annual operating costs for the several County recreation centers B&D studied in 2009, we expect that the annual operating cost for a recreation center opened in 2016 will begin at $2.7-$4.3 million per year depending on the size of the recreation center. This accounts for the alternative sizes of the center and includes inflation since the 2009 analysis at 2%/year. That annual operating expense would likely grow with inflation, program additions, capital improvements, etc., in the years following its opening. On the plus side, using the basic approach for operating costs above and assuming the recreation center meets B&D’s standard stated in its 2009 report that a “successful” recreation center recovers at least 80% of its operating costs, we can anticipate operating revenues to average between $2.2-$3.4 million dollars if a recreation center is opened circa 2016.

All the Fairfax County recreation centers B&D studied in 2009 recovered more than their operating costs (114% on average) so this estimate of revenues is a conservative in comparison, but other recreation centers certainly recover less of their operating costs through fees, rentals, admissions, etc. In contrast, the three options presented by B&D in 2009 for a Reston recreation center would have recovered only 74%-80% of their operating cost with the recovery rate dropping as recreation center size dropped. This could impact the financial "success" of the new options given that they are both smaller than any of the three options B&D presented in 2009.

In short, a reasonable preliminary estimate of the annual net cost for operating a “successful” Reston recreation center to be covered through taxes would run between $1.6-$2.6 million per year, not counting program reserves for maintenance, additional capital projects, and other strategic program needs. This calculation excludes possible proffers from developers or contributions from other sources. All of these financial estimates have to be considered preliminary rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimates based the assumptions and data we described above. They are subject to review in concert with B&D’s updated financial analysis due on June 3, 2013. In that regard, they may offer a benchmark for examining changing assumptions and data in B&D's forthcoming financial analysis keyed to the new recreation center options B&D has presented.

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Reston Citizens Association Paying for the Recreation Center The Reston Tax District Option With a 2009 forecast cost for the “comprehensive” option of a new Reston recreation center put at about $50 million, a vital question is just how should it be paid for. As presented by RCC, the recreation center would be financed through tax revenues from Small Tax District #5 (STD#5), a Reston-area tax district created to provide recreational, cultural, and gathering/meeting facilities and services for Reston. At present, that tax district is funded by a $.047 per $100 valuation on all residential and commercial real estate in Reston. That is roughly a four percent surcharge on the general county real estate tax rate just set at $1.085 per $100 by the Board of Supervisors. Although the surcharge was approved by Restonians in a referendum several decades ago in order to build the current community center at Hunters Woods promptly rather than wait years for County funding, it remains controversial in the community because many believe Reston is shortchanged by the County. Most notably, critics highlight that it is one of only two major community or recreation centers (the other is the McLean Community Center—MCC) funded by a special tax district among the County’s 18 public community and recreation centers, including Reston’s Southgate Community Center. In essence, Restonians are not only paying for their own community center, but for almost everyone else’s community or recreation center in the County as well. The tax rate for STD#5 has dropped over the years as property valuations have grown and the original bond debt was paid off, but the construction of a major new facility could see it rise again--at least for a while. The Reston tax started at $.06 per $100, dropped to $.052 in FY 2003, and dropped again to its current $.047 rate in 2007. Nonetheless, because of property value increases, the STD#5 tax now generates about half-again as much revenue as it did a decade ago when rates were $.06 per $100 valuation. If the construction and operating cost estimates in the previous section are reasonably accurate and there is at least moderate growth in Reston's real estate valuation--either from appreciation or new development in the station areas--over the rest of the decade and beyond, tax rates in the Reston small tax district may not have to be raised to accommodate a new recreation center. Obviously, this would be more likely if the smaller--and less costly--recreation center option is selected. A favorable tax rate outcome also depends strongly on the "success" of the recreation center in generating high operating cost recovery rates, creating a substantial challenge for RCC management. We do not, however, discount the possibility that a higher STD#5 tax rate could be needed. A more important question, however, is whether the community should rely on self-taxation to build a new recreation center. We believe the three following criteria need to be evaluated:    Who would use the recreation center most, Restonians or non-residents? Can we reasonably expect a new Reston recreation center to recover most of its operating costs through operating revenues as other “successful” County recreation centers do? Does have RCC have an ample Capital Project Reserve as a down payment toward building a new recreation center?

Recreation Center Users. We believe a key issue in whether Restonians should finance a new recreation facility is understanding who its principal—or “core”—users would be: Restonians or non-residents. The 2009 B&D market analysis showed that a majority of the users of the costly major elements of the facility would likely be people who live elsewhere. The conclusion extended across every type of usage 19

Reston Citizens Association except swimming using what B&D called a “conservative” ten percent assumption about the “capture rate”—the percentage of people in the market area outside Reston who would be “core participants” at the recreation facility by element. Using B&D’s 2009 core participation count data, a less conservative assumption of a 15-20% “capture rate” among non-Restonians using a Reston-based recreation center facility suggests that Restonians would account for only about 30%-40% of the users of the major facilities at a Reston community center—and certainly not the majority of usage of any recreation center capability. Since a significant portion—possibly a majority--of the recreation center’s likely future users will be coming from beyond Reston, it is unclear why Restonians alone should pay for it.

Reston Recreation Center--Core Participation Level: Reston vs. Non-Resident Usage
Swimming Restonians Non-Resident Usage Capture rate @ 10% 15% 20% Restonians' Share of Use Non-Res Capture rate @ 10% 15% 20% 1,404 Weight & Fitness 11,531 Gymnasium 3,209

1,359 2,039 2,718

12,886 19,329 25,772

3,990 5,985 7,980

51% 41% 34%

47% 37% 31%

45% 35% 29%

Source: B&D Feasabililty and Market Analysis for Indoor Recreation, Final Report, May 2009

Covering Center Operating Costs. Another issue in deciding how the recreation center should be financed would be how successful the center could be in financing its own operations. In its look at the program economics of several other Fairfax County recreation centers, B&D concluded in 2009 that, “Outside of development costs, most of the successful recreation facilities are able to cover 80-90% of operating costs with the remaining expenses subsidized by various public monies.”10 Our look at the other “successful” county recreation centers discussed in the B&D 2009 report indicates that that they actually earn more in program-related revenues than they spend in operating costs by an average of 14%. (See table below.)

10

All of the facilities examined by B&D were otherwise funded by Fairfax County, not a special tax district.

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Reston Citizens Association

Usage and Operating Performance forSeveral "Successful" Fairfax County Recreation Centers
Recreation Center

Size

Usage

Operating Revenues
Total ($M) $3.5 $2.6 $2.8 $2.9 $3.0 Program Other Revenue Revenue $1.8 $1.7 $1.3 $1.3 $1.1 $1.7 $1.6 $1.3 $1.5 $1.5 Total ($M) $2.6 $2.5 $2.5 $2.8 $2.6

Operating Expenses

Net Operating Results
Recovery Rate 135% 104% 112% 104% 114% Cost per User $8.29 $11.21 $8.38 $12.74 $10.16

Audrey Moore Cub Run Oak Marr Lee District Average Sources: B&D 2009 Reston Recreation Center Market Analysis RCC Budget--Actual Expendures FY2009 RCC CAFR 2009--Usage data

Avg. Daily Sq. Feet Admission 76,000 859 65,000 611 56,000 817 83,600 602 70,150 722

Compensation Other Net Revenue ($M) Expenses ($M) ($K) $1.7 $0.9 $900 $1.7 $0.8 $100 $1.7 $0.8 $300 $1.7 $1.1 $100 $1.7 $0.9 $350

Community centers and recreation centers have different cost-recovery experiences. An examination of the budgets for Reston and McLean Community Centers shows that they both have much lower cost recovery rates than the “successful” recreation centers identified in the table above. RCC has consistently recovered about 15% of its operating costs (employee compensation and operating expenses) through operating income (fees, rentals, vending, etc.) since 2000, according to County budget documents. The McLean Community Center (MCC)—which is self-funding like RCC—generated a recovery rate of 25% in 2012 according to the County’s 2014 advertised budget. Before a decision is made to purse a Reston tax district-funded recreation center, a detailed market analysis is needed to determine whether a Reston recreation center would be “successful,” that it can recover at least 80-90% of its operating costs through operating income.  In its 2009 study, B&D’s financial model assessed that a Reston recreation center would generate between 74-80% of its operating costs through operating incomes— at the bottom of the “successful” range and well below the success experienced by the other Fairfax County recreation centers studied by B&D.  Moreover, the forecast recovery rates for the three Reston options in 2009 declined as the size of the facility was reduced. Both of the new options presented by B&D are smaller than any of the options it presented in 2009, making the issue of the link between size and “success” especially pertinent. If a Reston recreation center were able to achieve a “successful” operating cost recovery rate, the weight on taxpayers—Reston or County— would be reduced significantly. We would expect the forthcoming B&D study will address this issue in some depth. Building Capital Project Reserves. Having set aside a sizable sum for a “down payment” on a new recreation center can substantially ease the burden of financing it. As of the end of 2012, RCC had a total $6.2 million in its reserves, $3.0 million of which was in its Capital Projects reserve. As shown in the table below, MCC—the other major self-funding community center in the County—had $8.6 million in its Capital Projects reserve as well as $2.3 million that was uncommitted. In a footnote to its 2014 budget statement, MCC notes that it plans to use this reserve for new and improved facilities and programs. It states, “It is anticipated that the funding in the Capital Project Reserve will be directed to the expansion and relocation plans. By building up this reserve, the amount of bond funding required 21

Reston Citizens Association will be reduced accordingly." RCC may need to follow this example if it intends to build a new Reston recreation center financed by Restonians to reduce the risk of a tax rate increase. Comparison of Reston and McLean Community Center Budgets, Actual Results, FY 2012
Reston FY 2012 Actual Tax District Real Estate Valuation Beginning Balance Revenue: Taxes Interest Operating Revenue Total Revenue Total Available Expenditures: Personnel Services FTE Operating Expenses Operating Costs Recovery Rate Capital Equipment Subtotal Capital Projects Total Expenditures Total Disbursements Ending Balance Reserves: Maintenance Feasibility Study Capital Project Economic & Program Reserved Balance Unreserved Balance Tax Rate per $100 of Assessed Value $ 12,613,236,170 $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ 7,467,169 5,928,221 26,044 996,991 6,951,256 14,418,425 $ $ $ $ $ McLean FY 2012 Actual $ 16,323,582,609 $12,584,950 3,754,424 38,794 1,195,312 4,988,530 17,573,480 2,656,433 28 2,211,455 4,867,888 25% 4,867,888 609,824 5,477,712 5,477,712 12,095,768 1,207,426 8,574,193 9,781,619 2,314,149 $0.023

4,413,189 $ 47 2,699,018 $ 7,112,207 $ 14% 8,329 $ 7,120,536 $ 1,089,307 $ 8,209,843 $ 8,209,843 $ 6,208,582 $ 836,453 139,409 3,000,000 2,232,720 6,208,582 $0.047 $ $ $ $ $ $

The County Financing Option via FCPA Many have suggested that, like the rest of Fairfax County, the financing of a new Reston recreation center ought to be carried out under FCPA’s county-wide tax umbrella. If this were done, the county real estate tax impact, if any, on Restonians would be negligible and would mean no required increase in the STD#5 tax rate. On the other hand, FCPA is highly constrained in pursuing a bond initiative any time soon. Its bonding authority is committed through 2022, according to FCPA’s director, and it is limited in its annual debt service expenses to $13 million. Although these constraints can be changed by the Board of Supervisors, that is probably unlikely as the County faces continuing budget deficits. Turning to the County to pay for a new Reston recreation center could both delay and add some uncertainty to its 22

Reston Citizens Association future construction because it would probably not have a high priority like clearly needed transportation improvements. Also, construction costs and interest rates are likely to rise over time making any particular facility option more expensive than building it in the near term. Building Partnerships Options The possibility exists that RCC and FCPA could form an unprecedented partnership for financing the building and operating costs of a new Reston recreation center. This partnership could take a variety of forms in terms of which party covers what share of what type of expense and what share of revenues generated by its operation. It also could involve a shifting financial commitment over time by either RCC or FCPA to meet anticipated changes in their relative financial capacity. While the specifics of such an arrangement would have to be negotiated and would no doubt require overcoming some administrative hurdles, it is clear that combining the resources of Reston and the County could be advantageous to both in meeting a community and district needs. That partnership could grow either over time or from the outset to include the private sector as well through proffers by developers who are likely to develop the areas around the Reston Metrorail stations. Since proffers are a voluntary contribution by a developer, one likely implication of that approach would be that the recreation center would probably have to be near the location of major development so the developer could see some benefit from making a proffer. In fact, a developer proffer of land for the recreation center, however unlikely, would save considerable money and open up more options for recreation center locations. Easy access to the recreation center—whether by residents or employees in the proposed development--would be an important criterion in a developer’s consideration of a significant proffer. Private sector funding appears to have significant implications for the recreation center’s location. If viewed a principal source of funding for the recreation center, it would mean that Tall Oaks would be less likely to attract proffers since no redevelopment is currently planned around it. Baron Cameron Park could attract proffers from companies redeveloping Lake Anne Village Center. The vacant FCPA park land in Town Center North and the Isaac Newton Square and Lake Fairfax Park options appear to be most likely to attract substantial proffers given their proximity to dense prospective development and Metrorail stations. The key issue with relying on this financing source is its uncertainty: Proffers are voluntary and, while reasonably routine in major development efforts, are far from certain, especially on a less than critical infrastructure need such as a recreation center. We do not believe financing of the recreation center by Reston Association is a realistic option, although it could contribute to a partnership. Major RA financing would add substantially to the annual fees for the much smaller, exclusively residential RA tax base to cover the debt service and operational costs. At the same time, the debt service cost requirement would probably be much higher than financing by either RCC or Fairfax County (which has very high credit ratings) because RA has never issued bond debt and its creditworthiness is unproven.

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Reston Citizens Association How do we make the best decision for Reston? There are many ways by which Reston can arrive at a decision about the issues discussed above—and we believe must be a community decision. We believe that this decision should not be RCC’s alone despite the noteworthy work it has done in developing the proposal and reaching out to the community. To date, however, we are concerned that RCC has been generally unwilling to consider any location except Baron Cameron Park for the new recreation center and it appears fixed on the idea that the new center should be paid for by STD#5 tax revenues, notwithstanding some possible contributions from proffers. As this paper suggests, it is not at all clear that those are the best options for Reston. We believe the right way for making this important community decision would be to create a small panel of two representatives each from RCC, RA, and RCA to assess the merits of the idea of a new Reston recreation center and develop a specific recommendation on whether the community should pursue building one, what facilities and services it should provide, where it should be located, and how it should be financed. It would certainly also need to elicit public input in this process. Such a joint effort would better reflect the broad range of views and interests across the entire community. In this way, we believe that all the community’s equities—including the majority of Restonians who might make limited use of a recreation a center— will be represented and considered in the fairest possible way. There appear to be two ways to proceed, each with strengths and weaknesses. The first is to proceed with the proposal subject to the review and endorsement of the joint community panel by the end of the year. The second way is to table the RCC proposal and have the joint community panel review all the issues and generate a community-based proposal for a recreation center, if any. The first approach takes advantage of the fact that there is both some urgency and some opportunity for a community-wide panel to have an impact on the recreation center decision process within the broader County planning process. The urgency stems from the fact that the RCC Board of Governors will hold a hearing on its proposal on June 17th and given guidance to the RCC staff for preparing the FY 2015 budget. The basic guidance will be whether or not to include the proposal in the budget and, if so, identify the general contours of the facility—it’s approximate size and elements—that FCPA can factor in to its master planning process. Neither the RCC nor the FCPA would be obligated to proceed with a facility at that time, creating an opening for a broader panel to build a community-wide consensus on the matter. The window of opportunity for the panel’s input would close late this year. At that time, FCPA would decide whether to include the RCC facility in its plans for Baron Cameron Park and the RCC Board would decide whether to proceed with a referendum in 2014. In the interim, the RCC-RA-RCA panel would have about six months to bring together a shared vision of the need for a Reston recreation center, what it should include, where it should be located, and how it should be financed. Alternatively, the RCC proposal could be tabled until the next fiscal year budget cycle while the joint RCC-RA-RCA panel conducted a more thorough examination of the issues in the Reston recreation center initiative. This approach acknowledges that it is often more difficult to remove an initiative from an agenda that it is to put it on one. In this case, once the proposal for a Reston recreation center is put on track for inclusion in the Baron Cameron Park master plan and a Reston bond referendum, it will likely be all but impossible to remove it should further analysis suggested by the joint panel indicate it is inappropriate. This approach neither precludes the ability to put the subject to a Reston tax district vote 24

Reston Citizens Association at a later date nor does it preclude pursuing a County-funded recreation center although the latter option may result in substantial construction delays as a result of Board-imposed financial constraints on FCPA, unless those constraints are changed. It has the distinct advantage of a blank page for planning a recreation center. It is not constrained by an up or down decision on the RCC proposal, but can develop its own. In brief, this option is less risky than the alternative, offers more flexibility, and promises the best possible solution for Restonians although it also guarantees some delay in the construction of a recreation center in Reston.

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