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The View from Over Here

Why do golf courses become bad neighbors? Cyclopses with eye only for bottom line. One wants more green in form of condos while the other drains a neighboring lake.

 What is it with Golf Courses in Reston?  Two corporate neighbors own these lovely expanses of green where peace and solitude reign, except for the occasional appearance of oddly dressed people pursuing little white balls. 

These folks ride in tiny cars alongside the grassy fields, occasionally hopping out to look everywhere in the lush, green grasses and behind trees and bushes for little white balls, which they proceed to whack with big sticks.  Then they jump back in their car to follow those little white balls, only to whack them again!

Apart from the curious activity of the colorfully garbed golfers, the gentle rolling green areas are peaceful and quiet homes to numerous birds and surprising numbers of small animals from field mice to squirrels, rabbits, foxes, deer and more.   It is also welcoming space for Reston residents who enjoy nature walks along the stretches of green and lovely shaded pathways. 

In his video story Reston-Past, Present and Future, Reston videographer Steve Resz warned us that these two lovely park-like areas (and other green spaces, like school grounds) might one day be threatened in the name of profit. 

After nearly 40 years as an integral part of Reston, the Reston National Golf Course in  south Reston indeed is in the crosshairs of developers’ sights. The owners of RNGC, a public course, realize that having Metro nearby means their picturesque 166 green acres will bring them even more green if they were packed with condominiums and parking lots.  So much for being a valued neighbor offering refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban living!

Meanwhile, north of the toll road the other golf course, Hidden Creek County Club, has spent the summer draining water from Lake Anne to the point where it has interrupted the workings of the antique chilled water air conditioning system of area residents.  Lake Anne’s edges are now mud flats, inhibiting pleasure boating on the lake and creating ideal mosquito breeding pools.  Some residents now fear that developers will see the mud flats and envision more condos springing up!

 Hidden Creek drains the lake to water its greens and fairways free of charge.  That’s right -- they pay nothing to siphon the water under an agreement with an early Reston developer and Fairfax County, in days when the now-private club was public.

 While Reston National and other golf courses use county water just like everyone else to water their grass, Hidden Creek refuses to do so even in periods of drought like we’ve seen this year.  HC reminds one of the stereotypical corporate bad guy, driven solely by a bottom line without regard for impact upon the community. 

I understand that representatives of the Reston Association and Reston Lake Anne Air Conditioning (RELAC), in fact, met with Hidden Creek management in early August to appeal to them to cease and desist draining Lake Anne until the drought eased.  HC management appeared to agree.  But, within days, they were back sucking the life-giving water out of Lake Anne.  Why use readily available county water when you take it from a neighbor’s lake for free?

Why do Reston National and Hidden Creek now behave like so many American corporations that have only one eye, the one for the bottom line?  It was not thus in the early days of our republic.  Corporations were chartered by the several states.  Their charters had to be renewed every few years, and the corporations were expected to act in accord with certain societal mores, to add value to the community.

I doubt that, given their behavior, these Reston businesses’ charters would have been renewed.



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John Farrell September 17, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Don't be overly optimistic on the Commonwealth's refusal to renew corporate charters. It's the State Corporation Commission that approved the recent rate hikes for RELAC.
Maryanne September 18, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I am concerned also, that as we become more like a city here, we do not have a central park as in New York or mall area as in dc. Fairfax county parks show excellent planning and thought for all of us in a more surburban environment, but in city planning something is missing. Golf courses are beautiful but exclusive. Reston lakes are beautiful but bound by private ownership. Our trails through the woods unique for walking and cycling. But for those living in the high rise city environment, where on foot can you go to throw a frisbee for your dog, play with your children, or simply wile in the sunshine? We already see how poorly planned the Tyson's area is, are we going to allow the same for Reston? Wise planning should consider open space for all of us, not just the wealthy. I love my visits to Town Center but the small park and Pavilion are not enough for the planned development. The direction Reston is taking now should concern us all, Lake Anne residents included. Where is the noise and clamor?
John Lovaas September 18, 2012 at 09:46 PM
MaryAnne, I think you make an excellent point. A sort of proxy for this issue of significant parklike space for all came uP in discussions of Task Force Town Center subcommittee, but good proposals by a couple of residents of Reston were squeezed out by combination of county staff (not required by Fairfax County policies) and developer interests. You might wan to throw this over Supervisor Hudgins transom. You'd likely get a better reception with RCA and Reston 2020 .

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