If there's one RCA committee that you already know, it's probably the Reston 2020 Committee. Perhaps you've seen an article detailing 2020's latest project, or you've heard a 2020 member speak at a community hearing or task force meeting, or you've checked out the 2020 blog, or you've read one of Terry Maynard's detailed and impressive reports outlining a vision for the development along the Toll Road.
In the last couple of years, 2020 has established itself as a strong and respected citizen voice, fighting to ensure that planning and development in Reston takes the needs and desires of Restonians into account. In case you're not familiar with 2020's work, read on and find out what this RCA committee is doing to improve Reston's quality of life.
The Reston 2020 Committee was the brainchild of my predecessor as RCA President, Marion Stillson. In 2009, Marion knew that Supervisor Cathy Hudgins planned to do a study to determine new planning and zoning guidelines for Reston, spurred by the coming of the Metro Silver Line to Reston. Working in conjunction with RA and other influential community leaders, Marion and RCA proposed a citizen-driven study, with work groups studying the various aspects of the plan and coming together to make recommendations.
Supervisor Hudgins decided not to adopt the RCA proposal, instead setting up the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force. Did RCA go away at that point? Of course not! Instead, we set up 2020 as an independent group, assembling issue-based work groups and making recommendations to the Task Force. 2020 members have faithfully attended Task Force meetings, and spoken up when they felt the Task Force wasn't making the best decision for the citizens of Reston, or when 2020 had ideas to contribute to the process.
Has Reston 2020 had influence on the Task Force process? Absolutely. For instance, the basic planning principles adopted by the Task Force adopted were based on a document created by 2020. On the process side, 2020 encouraged the Task Force to create subcommittees to focus on specific areas of planning, just like 2020 itself did. The Task Force ultimately did create subcommittees for each station area, as well as Steering and Vision Subcommittees. These work groups have done the lion's share of Task Force work, and they've helped the Task Force move forward.
While the Task Force was working to shape its recommendations, Reston 2020 was working hard and came up with its own alternate proposal for the station areas. The basic vision of 2020's proposal is that providing a better balance between commercial and residential space will reduce traffic, as more people will be able to live where they work and play. 2020 has argued that the Task Force's recommendations are too heavily skewed toward office space, which will mean more cars on Reston's roads.
More recently, 2020 was concerned that the County planned to do only one transportation analysis to quantify the effects of the proposed new development on Reston's traffic. 2020 argued that we need a second analysis, to allow a comparison. After month of lobbying and discussion, the County has agreed to perform a second analysis, which will allow the Task Force to make more informed decisions that will be better for Reston.
Over the past year, Reston 2020 has expanded its mission beyond making recommendations to the Task Force. They've been looking at the funding behind Phase 2 of the Silver Line, and fighting to make sure that it won't be built on the backs of Restonians that use the Toll Road. 2020 was one of the first organizations to call attention to the forecasts for higher tolls, and to advocate for a solution that would be a better deal for Reston. In the wake of 2020's campaign, our elected officials have taken notice and began calling for cost reductions and alternate funding sources to reduce the burden on Toll Road users.
On the planning front, Reston 2020 has been keeping a close eye on the proposed redevelopment of Fairway Apartments. 2020 has argued that the proposed redevelopment is too dense and too big relative to the surrounding neighborhoods, and will add a lot of extra traffic to Reston roads. Thanks to the advocacy of 2020 and other citizen groups like Sustainable Reston (a former RCA committee), the developer has taken notice. JBG has already made some improvements to the project, and they're in the process of making more. The Fairway project is likely to set the standard for other aging garden apartment complexes in Reston, so 2020 knows it's important to get this one right.
Reston 2020 is not a "NIMBY" group. If you've read the 2020 blog or any of Terry's papers, you know that they are not unilaterally opposed to development. 2020 understands that growth is inevitable, and in fact can be good for a community. (The alternative is stagnation, which is definitely not a good thing.)
What matters to 2020 is that any development be carefully planned to ensure that Reston maintains its special qualities, and that we have the infrastructure of transportation, environmental amenities, and services to support whatever growth is planned. If we plan the new density well, and provide adequate infrastructure, the new growth could actually strengthen Reston, tying together the north and south sides of the Toll Road and allowing for more walkable neighborhoods, which ultimately lead to less traffic on our roads. That's the vision that 2020 is fighting to realize.
Do you support 2020's crusade to make Reston a better community? If so, you should join the cause. And you can do so tonight. Reston 2020 is having a planning meeting this evening, Oct. 12, at 7:30 PM at RCC Hunters Woods. If you'd like to find out more about 2020, or sign up to help out, this is your chance. I hope to see you there!