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Is Better Lighting Key To Enhancing Safety at Hunters Woods Village Center?

Community organizations discussing ways to improve lighting, deter crime and make plaza more inviting.

Proposed lighting changes for RA paths near Hunters Woods Village Center   Credit: Reston Association
Proposed lighting changes for RA paths near Hunters Woods Village Center Credit: Reston Association
Crime, litter and loitering are all issues at Hunters Woods Village Center, and an informal task force met on Wednesday as part of an effort to clean up the shopping plaza.

The task force is made up of representatives from Reston Community Center, Fairfax County, Edens (the shopping center owners), Fairfax County Police, Reston Association, Cornerstones (Reston Interfaith) and several faith-based groups, among others.

The group met last month in an effort to pool ideas and resources into making Hunters Woods more inviting and safer. On Wednesday, they members were back to exchange ideas and listen to suggestions from Edens and Reston Association on projects in the works.

Becky Hannon, a representative from Edens, said Hunters Woods is still undergoing renovation, which highlights the company's commitment to he community.

"We have committed a lot of time and funds in redeveloping," she said. "Hunters Woods has the ability to pull in Reston and be a meeting place."

Still to come, said Hannon, improved lighting and seating for the plaza. Hannon said sconce lighting will be installed next month, which will make the shopping center, as well as the open area in front of Reston Community Center, better lit.

"We want this area here (in front of RCC) to be the 'third place' where you can gather," she said. "We need to have a place where people feel safe and comfortable."

New trash cans will be installed, as will new benches, said Hannon.

A task force member asked if benches will be built so as to discourage sleeping by homeless people.

Hannon said Edens looked into benches with a bar across the middle, but in the end that style may be discrimination against larger people who just want to sit. Additional lighting may have an impact on the homeless sleeping situation, she said.

There is also a proposal to move the tables and chairs from in front of Safeway to the open area of the plaza, said Hannon.

Leila Gordon, executive director of RCC, said one of her organizations top concerns has been lighting.

"We have emphasized we are very concerned about lighting," she said. "Not so much to the midpoint of the parking lot, but the corridor between Buffalo Wings and RCC. It could use more physical improvements in terms of lighting but also ongoing replacement of burned-out bulbs."

Reston Association is hoping to work with Edens on lighting improvements as well.

The paths near Hunters Woods are RA property and have been the site of several assaults, robberies and intimidation - particularly of elderly Hunters Woods Fellowship House residents - recently.

Acting RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said she has suggested to the RA Board to include pathway lighting improvements in the 2014 budget, which is currently being organized.

Fulkerson suggests adding lighting to 4,601 feet of nearby paths that lead to Hunters Woods. The anticipated cost would be $125,000, and she is also hoping Edens would work with RA to help absorb some of the costs.

The following are 2014/2015 Budget Initiatives under consideration by the RA Board:

Fulkerson also suggests new trail markings  on the “Green Loop” (3.3 miles, with an anticipated cost of just under $5,000 to mark the trail) and the the “Purple Loop” (4.56 miles, with an anticipated cost of about $5,500 to mark the trail).  (See PDF attached to this story).

"This would improve safety coming to the center," said Fulkerson, who asked that the task force members and community members write to the RA board or attend an upcoming meeting to ask to make the lighting a priority.

The next RA meeting is 7 p.m. on Sept. 12 at RA Headquarters, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr. Public comments are at the start of the meeting.

More:
Speak Out: Does Crime Path Worry You?  

Arrest in Bike Path Assault
From Graffiti Spot to Community Art Project

Will Lipford August 14, 2013 at 03:19 PM
How about hiring real security guards and make them do there job, I lived next to this shopping center and it was constant crime, but I would go into BWF and there was a security guard just sitting. Oh and BTW the ghetto is on 2 sides of this shopping center so lighting isn't going to do anything, I never understood why police don't occasionally walk the paths behind there, people drinking and sleeping bushes, throwing trash everywhere. But tell ya what, spend 125k on some new lights and call it a day, this has only been a problem for 20 years now.
DGeorge August 14, 2013 at 04:42 PM
If you take a fairly interesting community center and turn it into a 5 acre parking lot/strip mall you have no complaint if people don't visit. Then to compound the problem you surround it with subsidized housing and you can be sure people will stay away. Hunters Woods must be the ugliest most unappealing monstrosity in Reston. It used to be worth visiting before the unimaginative little gray men and women had their way with it. Gary Larson had a cartoon once that showed a day care center and a dingo farm side by side. The caption was "Trouble Brewing." Our senior citizens at the Fellowship house are the Day Care kids.
mc6 August 14, 2013 at 08:44 PM
The Safeway at HW is a mess, if that place could be managed better they would perhaps attract more folks who might want to stay in the area for dinner, gas, whatever.
Bill Burton August 14, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Please make sure that any new lights are properly shielded in compliance with the Fairfax County lighting ordinance. The design of the new lights at Metro Center seems to have strayed from the intent of the ordinance.
brianrandolph August 15, 2013 at 09:57 AM
not sure what properly shielded means, but the newer lights on the paths by the uplands pools are constantly being broken by delinquents. as soon as they are fixed they are broken again, resulting in unlit paths. how about using plastic covers or metal grates like some of the older models to keep people from putting them out?
Maggie August 15, 2013 at 10:41 AM
I shop at Hunter's Woods Safeway and I never think of it as being unsafe or sketchy, or even poorly managed enough to just go the extra mile down to South Lakes. That said, lighting is always good.
novatom August 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM
I've used the walking paths around Hunters Woods for a number of years now and have never felt threatened, but then I'm a middle-aged man. Having said that, I have seen a fair number of "sketchy" looking people around the Safeway there. They close one of the 2 entrances to the store after 9 every night because of security concerns (their words, not mine). As for the quality of that Safeway and the way it's managed, don't get me started. It is one of the worst stores in N. Virginia.
Lala Blood August 15, 2013 at 01:02 PM
<i>It is one of the worst stores in N. Virginia.</i> You obviously never been to the Safeway in Rosslyn.
Private Person August 15, 2013 at 08:59 PM
ALL of Reston needs much more and better lighting. The nightmare mess we have now is a hodge podge of mostly dysfunctional outdoor lighting cobbled together as a decades-old "demonstration" project bargained by Mother Penino and subsequently mismanaged by Hudgins and RA. We get traffic signal poles (very poorly) painted in brown paint that rapidly flakes off and looks terrible (while all of the rest of VA gets durable, low-maintenance, mill-finish silver) but we are living in fear in our dark 'hoods because of an absurd insistence that Reston has to have precious few special, very expensive to operate and maintain, street lights. Yet VDOT has free reign installs useless acorn lights on the Wiehle Ave. bridge, violating the Fairfax County dark-sky ordinance, use thousands of dollars in electricity every month and illuminate nothing? Insane.

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