Speak Out: Should Commuter Lot Become a Park?

Should this space, a block from the new Wiehle-Reston East Metro, be a park or a parking lot?

Patch photo: Karen Goff
Patch photo: Karen Goff
The Reston North Park and Ride lot, which holds about 240 cars, currently is a place where commuters board buses to take them to existing Metro stops.
When the Silver Line starts service, that lot will become a free parking lot for Wiehle-Reston East users. But since the underground garage at Reston Station, adjacent to Wiehle-Reston East, will have more than 3,000 spots, several parties would like to see the narrow park and ride turned into a park.

Maggie Parker, spokeswoman for Comstock, the company that is building the parking garage (along with Fairfax County) and the adjacent Reston Station development, says the lot's proximity to the W & OD Trail, along with the safety issues of pedestrians crossing Sunset Hills to get the the Metro, makes a park there an attractive idea. Comstock and Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins have approached the Virginia Department of Transportation about the idea, but no agreement has been reached.

What do you think? Could Reston use some more green space as more high-rises go up near the Metro? Or do you say "the more parking, the better"? Let us know in the comments.

aab September 14, 2013 at 08:48 AM
do half...the lower part (that flooded a couple years ago) make a park...the upper part is used by trail users...and can be used for metro riders weekdays.
David Overbagh September 14, 2013 at 08:56 AM
Leave it as a parking lot. It is already used by people to access the trail. What is anybody going to do there if it is a park, soak up the rays from the high voltage lines above while watching the traffic jams at Whiele Avenue and Sunset Hills Road?
roobert dowles September 14, 2013 at 09:33 AM
I believe it should be left for now as a secondary parking area.In time if the parking is adequate in the garage than it can be decided to be used for other options.This would insure that commuters would not look to park in private parties property if the garage parking is not sufficient.
Allan Hoffman September 14, 2013 at 09:39 AM
How about a bit of both - leave the parking slots but add trees and other shrubbery to make the boundary more attractive.
Mary September 14, 2013 at 10:00 AM
They are not putting in or leaving enough parking spaces for people to use the metro. IF they want people to use the metro, they need parking spaces for people not within walking distance. I would say leave parking, but maybe spruce it up and put trees around to hide it a bit.
Elisabeth Springer September 14, 2013 at 10:06 AM
It should be left as a free parking lot, at least until the Silver Line is extended. We do not know yet how much parking is needed in the area, and the area is not very attractive anyway, with the powerlines overhead.
Jacquelyn McCord September 14, 2013 at 10:47 AM
I agree that it should be left as it is. Not a ideal spot for a park.
John Botts September 14, 2013 at 10:49 AM
We need to add at least a bit of green space next to the concrete jungle growing in the Dulles Corridor. I'm disappointed that we aren't talking about adding a much larger park in proximity to the Corridor. Guess where the new residents in the Corridor are going to walk their dogs, bike, and walk? Reston paths paid for by Restonians.
Terry Maynard September 14, 2013 at 10:54 AM
The area around the Wiehle station (Sunrise Valley Dr. north through Isaac Newton Square) will need the VDOT parking area as a park as the it becomes more developed. Specifically, the draft plan for that area would allow more than 18,000 new residents with an anticipated growth on the order of 15,000 over the next two decades. The transition of this space to an urban linear park was proposed by the task force sub-committee that studied the Wiehle area and is supported by community organizations, including RCA. Even with this linear park and a substantial park in the Isaac Newton Sq area, the station area will be woefully short of neighborhood-building park space even by FC's minimalist urban parks standards.
Walt Culver September 14, 2013 at 11:47 AM
That parking lot is awfully narrow to be any kind of attractive park, and it's not adjacent to the kind of residential density that would make it much used. I would prefer to see it left as a parking lot (since there never seems to be anough parking around Metro stops), but beautified with islands that have attractive shrubs.
Terry Maynard September 14, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Walt-- One of the key objectives of "transit-oriented development" is to get people out of their cars and on transit. The more parking that is provided, the more people will drive there to use it. Instead, we want to encourage people from beyond the TOD area to use bus transit to get to Metro thanks to a robust and inexpensive bus network (carrot) and limited and expensive parking near the station (stick). The Wiehle area simply can't handle any more traffic. The intersections at Sunset Hills is already at capacity at peak hours as officially measured (some would say way above capacity). Moreover, it promises to be HUGELY above capacity within two decades. At adjoining Sunset Hills intersection, the County expects avg 2.5 minute delays in the AM rush hour and avg. more than 4 (FOUR!) minute delays in the PM rush hour. And that's with a variety of mitigation efforts in the interim--including elimination of the VDOT parking area. It would be a serious detriment to the quality of life in Reston to continue to maintain the VDOT area as parking over the long term. And, FWIW, there are a number of very attractive "linear parks" in major cities across the country. This one would have the advantage of being next to the W&OD trail as well.
Skip Endale September 14, 2013 at 01:40 PM
I think it should be a dedication to Sunset Hills Farm: an urban park depicting an agricultural landscape. Plenty of greenspace over top of a multi-level underground parking lot. Parking lots starting at $50,000 with a guaranteed, passive income stream over the next 10 years. We deserve.
Robert Mowbray September 14, 2013 at 01:57 PM
The existing vegetation along the W&OD trail is currently pretty ugly consisting mostly of invasive exotic plants. Whether the area is kept for a parking lot or transformed into a park, the invasive exotic plants should be replaced with native plants. For those of us who do not live close to the Wiehle metro stop, I am not convinced that the bus system will prove to be an efficient means of getting to the metro station, especially during non rush hours when there probably won't be parking available at the Comstock Center.
Robert Mowbray September 14, 2013 at 02:00 PM
I should have mentioned that more greenspace is needed in this area. At the same time it will be difficult to transform this strip into an attractive park.
Diane Lewis September 14, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Remember the cars ruined by the flood in that lot? A park with trees would definitely help with storm-water runoff issues. More paved space and fewer trees mean more flooding. Just ask the Reston homeowners who have lost their trees to the gas company right of way or to renegade tree-cutting neighbors.
JBecker September 14, 2013 at 02:14 PM
The parking lot won't just serve the metro riders. It's been there not just for commuters but also for people who wish to use the trail. Making it a park would not serve the majority of people who use the trails. Also, given a little time, the 3,000 spaces for metro will not be enough. There are plans to reduce the number of available spaces once the retail area is fully open. At this time there is NO metro station that has enough spaces to serve its riders. Why begin by removing parking?
Keri Panatier September 14, 2013 at 02:16 PM
how about more community garden space? There is always a waiting list for the garden plots and the long narrow layout kind of makes it idea for that!
Judy Mitchell September 14, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Absolutely a park! We can always add concrete parking. But this part of Reston is losing all of its natural beauty. A park sounds PERFECT! 😊
stephen fehr September 14, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Terry, I am all for transit-oriented development and would love to take a neighborhood bus to Wiehle instead of driving there. But the county took away our neighborhood bus years ago, forcing me to drive. Unless the county promotes a transit-friendly Reston, keep the park and ride lot as is because the demand for spaces will always be there.
Terry Maynard September 15, 2013 at 08:31 AM
Stephen: Yes, a robust bus transit system is key--and it is not here yet (nor will it be when Metrorail arrives). We need to keep pressing the County for the needed level of service. Over the next few years--until Phase 2 of Metro construction is finished out to western Loudoun County--we should keep the parking lot as it is. NTL, there will be huge backups around the station area. Be ready for that. (They wouldn't be as bad if FC had completed the Soapstone extension, given the 5-year lead time it had.) We don't need to close the lot just so Comstock or the County can make a few extra bucks for parking.
Tammi Petrine September 15, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Until the Silver Line is extended out of Reston, we need all the proximate parking to Wiehle that we can get. THERE IS NO DECENT BUS SERVICE IN RESTON so that Restonians can use the bus vs. drive! Why do Comstock and C. Hudgins want to make it so hard for folks to get to work??? This is outrageous and short-sighted. VDOT's lots must stay available until the capacity of the Wiehle garage is shown to be adequate. How can people use the Metro if they can't get to it??? Also, the power lines above this location do NOT make an attractive or healthy place for a park. W,O & D users also need a place to park. The idea to close these lots shows an astonishing lack of common sense at this point in time. On Comstock's part, the call to closing it is purely profit based. Haven't they gotten enough $$$ from Fairfax County? When is enough enough? Who is looking out for the little guy? C'mon, Supervisor Hudgins! Step up! Get the Soapstone crossing built and leave all of our existing parking alone until we know we won't need it.
Jake September 15, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Not the greatest place for a park, also with the Silver Line nearly RIGHT across the street from there, commuters need all the parking they can get.
Walter Hadlock September 15, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Leave it as a parking lot. Would you rather park as many as seven stories BELOW ground or ground level, and for free? The parking fee of $4.75 is a rip off as is. Terry Maynard may want to drag many of the rest of us to TOD, but Reston is a long way from 1) a robust bus system, 2) any money for a better road and bridge network ,3) access to the Wiehle Ave. Metro Stop from the south side of the toll road. All I can say is, good luck to commuters when the station opens.
Richard Holmquist September 16, 2013 at 01:49 AM
I'm for beautification in this area over parking. I suspect this parking lot would be more trouble than it's worth for commuters. This intersection is already going to be a nightmare. Why complicate it by having another minor, unsightly lot with cars slowly entering and exiting and pedestrians crossing? Since it's free, it will have a line of people trying to enter every morning, long after it's full. All the activity right next to this major intersection seems likely to exacerbate the traffic issue rather than relieve it. A park with some shade trees, benches, nice landscaping and some connections to the W&OD would be better. Maybe even include a nice sculpture visible from the main intersection.
Chipperson September 16, 2013 at 06:57 AM
Landscape architect here - as much as I'm for adding green space this is a worthless spot for a park given what's around it. The site is too narrow to yield anything interesting - it wouldn't attract any destination users, only people from the handful of adjacent buildings directly across the road. Leave it as is unfortunately.
Diane Blust September 16, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Definitely some type of open/green space. As Arlington County continues to say, if you build for cars, you will get cars. But, if like Arlington, you build for people and provide public transportation, you will get walkable, transit-oriented developments. Obviously, there needs to be some parking, but it should be reserved for park patrons. Love the idea of another RA community garden, but I fear the traffic in the area will make it too difficult for folks to get to their garden plots. It would probably be best to develop the area into an attractive, urban linear park used largely by the new residents of the transit corridor. And, of course, everyone who spoke out in favor of improved bus transit within Reston is spot on... We need the infrastructure to discourage car travel within Reston. Without additional public transit, we will have tons of parking throughout Reston. Unfortunately, that parking will be on our gridlocked streets, not in parking lots.
Renny Perdue September 16, 2013 at 09:38 AM
We will need all the parking we can get. Please leave it alone. Metro is wonderful, but for many the only way to get there is by car. For those of us who wish to use Metro after the rush hour, there won't be any spaces available.
Frank J. Schofield Sr. September 16, 2013 at 09:43 AM
YEs make it a Park and also make an overpass or underpass for the bike trail over Wheile Ave and Sunset hills.
Lilguy September 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM
Maggie Parker is speaking out of both sides of her mouth: First, it's too dangerous to walk across the street from the parking lot to Metro, but, second, it would be a good place for a park for people & their pets to walk to from Comstock's new high-rise apartments/condos. My idea: The residents of the new high-rise take their dogs over to Comstock's headquarters next door and have them poop on their parking ramp. See how long it takes Comstock to change its tune then.
The Convict September 16, 2013 at 11:12 AM
I'm with you, LG. I can already hear the hue and cry from the first time some apartment dweller's mutt runs from the park into traffic and becomes one with the pavement. Better to leave it as a parking lot. That way, at least when something gets splattered on the road, it will mean one less car out there. As for me, I think I'm going to switch to driving to the office since there will be that many fewer cars on the DTR.


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