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Letter: Outlining RCC's Process

Gordon: "We look forward to continuing the discussion of all the possibilities for RCC in the months ahead."

The Reston Community Center Board of Governors and staff thank the people of Reston who participated in our February 11 meeting to discuss Reston Community Center’s future and we look forward to continuing the discussion of all the possibilities for RCC in the months ahead.

It is important to note, as a foundation to the community’s conversation, that how Baron Cameron Park serves Reston and Fairfax County is ultimately the jurisdiction of Fairfax County Park Authority and subject to its master planning process. The Park Authority and RCC are exploring the potential for a partnership in realizing amenities at Baron Cameron Park; this will necessitate engagement by RCC with its constituents as well as the Park Authority engaging in its standard master planning processes.

At the outset of this engagement process, the RCC Board of Governors is agreed upon key pillars of planning for the future in general and specifically with respect to the potential of a partnership with Fairfax County Park Authority as we explore that particular possibility. The information below is provided so we are all on the same page as the conversation unfolds in the months ahead.

The Board of Governors of Reston Community Center will not act on a major capital project to realize an indoor recreation facility for Reston before determining these important sets of information indicate the wisdom of acting; specifically that:

1. The community supports such an endeavor and has had the opportunity to participate in discussions of what an indoor recreation facility should provide and how it should operate.

2. The market, demographic and financial contexts of Reston today and in the future are well understood and considered.

In addition, the Board of Governors has determined there are key pillars to any possible collaboration with the Park Authority that are fundamental to a partnership being successfully realized. These pillars with respect to the goals for RCC are:

1. RCC is interested in a facility that addresses demand in our community for more indoor Aquatics and Fitness activity options.

2. RCC respects the roles and missions of the Park Authority and other key Reston recreation providers and is not interested in proceeding in anything other than a collaborative and cooperative spirit with our partners in these areas such as Reston Association, Reston YMCA, Southgate Community Center, Reston schools, and Reston Town Center Association among others.

3. RCC provides its facilities, programs and services to Reston patrons first and foremost in consideration of their taxes. These tax revenues are derived from both Reston residential and commercial property owners; thus both residents and employees of Reston-located businesses are considered “Reston” by RCC. Reston patrons receive preferential pricing, scheduling opportunities and enrollment periods with respect to RCC offerings and facilities.

4. As a function of its mission, RCC is concerned with providing services in Aquatics and Fitness facilities and programs that address fitness and recreation for users of all ages and all abilities with leisure, competition, therapeutic, drop-in and registered types of use.

In its preliminary discussion of any potential partnership with Fairfax County Park Authority, the RCC Board of Governors recognizes these pillars of its planning with regard to the partnership from RCC’s perspecitve; specifically that:

1. The interest of Reston taxpayers is paramount and will be represented in the planning and programming of any new facility.

2. RCC should have autonomy in programming an indoor facility to best meet the needs of Reston patrons.

3. There should be flexibility in the timing of important benchmarks and the timing regarding funding to assure success.

4. An MOU will clarify roles and responsibilities for the entire project, as well as costs and management of common areas and transportation related issues.

5. The partnership should be as long-term as possible.

6. RCC has an expressed interest in creating something unique with features that distinguish this facility from other more “pro-forma” types.

7. RCC desires a true partnership and thus honors boundaries of existing and planned programming at Lake Fairfax Park (particularly the Water Mine Park).

8. RCC will work collaboratively to support joint communication both during the process of planning and subsequently if the partnership is realized.

9. RCC recognizes the substantial dollar value of the land that might be contributed to the partnership by the Park Authority and will consider contributing to other site improvements as on offset to loss of fields building an indoor facility might create.

Finally, fundamental to the outcome of this exploration, is RCC’s knowledge that building a facility will require a referendum of voters in Small District 5, thus the final consent and determination to build any new RCC facility is up to the will of those voters.  

To assure that undertaking a referendum is not done without a large degree of confidence, RCC will be extremely sensitive to community input at RCC meetings and to the Park Authority community input as their master planning unfolds.

We encourage people to let us know if they are interested in staying involved in the conversation by sending us their contact information to RCCContact@fairfaxcounty.gov. We ask people to include their name, address and email address when doing so.  

As always, the Board and staff of RCC are excited to explore the future with the active involvement of our patrons and partners.

Leila Gordon

Reston Community Center Executive Director

 

John Farrell February 13, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Using the same consultants who came up with the useless "study" supporting the Browns Chapel mega-gym immediately undermines the credibility of any Baron Cameron effort. If RCC's Board of Governors wants this exercise to be taken seriously, and not a foregone conclusion that goes through the motions of public input where the results are pre-determined, better get a consultant that's not transparently advocating for project as they did last time.
Laura Ramon February 13, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Mr. Farrell, perhaps you could save your "RCC/Gordon bashing" for a different forum so that those of us who want to discuss the merits of the FACILITY could do that- your entrenched demeanor towards, Ms. Gordon, Mr. Bouie, and others is well understood- your disruption of discussions so that you can continue to hammer your personal grievances is tiresome and not especially helpful.
Jim Hubbard February 13, 2013 at 01:51 PM
It's certainly appropriate the taxpayers (from Small Tax District 5) get preferential treatment at RCC, but I don't understand why employees of Reston-based businesses should get the same treatment. Unless they live in Small Tax District 5, they don't pay taxes to the district. It's not even certain that the companies who employ them pay taxes to the district, since many (most?) companies in Reston rent, rather than own, their office space. Can anyone who works for someone who lives in Reston get the same treatment? the guy who cuts my grass? What other jurisdictions do this? When I worked in Maryland, Montgomery County didn't offer me resident status for using its facilities.
John Farrell February 13, 2013 at 02:00 PM
The landowners in what was the RCIG agreed to be part of STD #5 because the employees of their tenants would get the same discounts as homeowners and renters. Non-residential properties generate large revenues that keep the surcharge homeowners pay much lower than if only residential land was in STD#5. As small percentage of eligible employees take advantage of RCC when compared to the percentage of homeowners, it turns out to be a good deal for STD#5 homeowners.
John Farrell February 13, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Did you read the Brailsford & Dunlavey "study" on the Brown's Chapel mega-gym and parking garage? It was a marketing puff piece long on speculation and hypebole; short on facts, numbers and comparative case studies. Its lack of unbiased analysis added further water to an already sinking ship. It's been a fundamental principal of municipal government since the dawn of the city manager movement in the1880s that the chief administrative officer of all local agencies lives within the boundaries of that agency. The principal is based on the belief that the chief administrative officer should have to pay the same taxes and live under rules as they recommend for the citizens of the locality. It is also based on the need of the chief administrative to be immediately physically available in case of emergency. The Fairfax County Executive, Superintendent of Schools, Fire Chief, Police Chief and others are all required to live in Fairfax County. Yet somehow Ms. Gordon and the RCC Board think this universally accepted principal doesn't apply to her. Bill Bouie and I often agree and often disagree. For the 2 years that we served together on RA's PPAC, he insisted that recreational proffers could not go to RA. Many accept that idea until I show them the zoning ordinance that says they can. RA is a far better steward of recreational proffer money generated in Reston than FCPA since RA has more facilities and land within RAs borders on which to use it than FCPA.
Jim Hubbard February 13, 2013 at 02:32 PM
That's all very interesting, but who thought themselves empowered to make such an agreement on behalf of the Tax District? Is it in writing? Approved by the County Board? anyone else? the taxpayers? How do you enforce it? Again, can anyone who works for anyone who pays taxes in the Tax District claim the same privilege?
John Farrell February 13, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Answer your questions in order Those provisions were part of the original ordinance that established STD#5 thatwas adopted by the Fairfax Board of Supervisors. Yes, it's in writing. Yes, it was approved by Board of Supervisors 40+ years ago. There also was a petition or referendum of the landowners at the time. Employees seeking the resident's discount have to show a paystub, id badge or other proof that they work within the STD#5 boundary. It works for nannies. Whether it works for yard maintenance folks, I'll invite you to call RCC and inquire.
Lilguy February 13, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Does anyone see the conflict of interest that I do??? Bill Bouie sits on the RCC Board of Governors, which is advocating a new rec. center on Park Authority land at Baron Cameron, presumably to be paid for by Reston taxpayers through our really "special tax district"? Bill Bouie is Chairman of the Park Authority Board that would be the beneficiary of the rec. center. The Park Authority is also at the center of the rumored deal-in-the-making with Northwestern Mutual to make a large part of Reston National Golf Course into a park in exchange for more residential density there. Would RCC manage and Restonians also pay for this alone through their "special tax district" or would the County pick up the tab (for a change)? In addition, where is RA in all this???? It's still trying to figure out whether we need an election for candidates running unopposed.
Terry Maynard February 13, 2013 at 03:05 PM
It is refreshing to see that the Reston Community Center is using this open process for gathering information to make a decision on a new Reston recreation center. While we all may have different views on where, who pays, what the features ought to be, etc., of a new community recreation center, at least we will have chance to make our voices heard as part of the decision making process. Thank you, Leila, for making this process more transparent and accessible.
Tammi Petrine February 13, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Terry beat me to the punch. The transparency of the process outlined by Ms. Gordon is indeed refreshing and much appreciated. With the advent of development of the Dulles corridor area and the possible degradation of Reston National Golf Course, serious planning for this venture must be carefully vetted with COMPLETE information. We know that Reston will require another HS/JHS campus and space for that must be taken into account. In fact, a rec center may be better located closer to the corridor area as the population of Reston will increase substantially there. In addition, proffers from developers in the Corridor should be considered in planning for any future amenities in Reston. Thanks, Leila, for your letter of clarification regarding the process for approaching this proposal. I look forward to participating in the discussion with many other interested Restonians.
Leila Gordon February 13, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Some clarifications are in order: 1) There is no employment/residency requirement for Fairfax County agency heads and employees; I can't speak to the requirements for the County Executive or the Chiefs of Police and Fire. I live where I live because it's where my husband lives; it is not because I don't love Reston or want to avoid paying taxes. DC residents pay substantially higher taxes than Virginians, even those living in Reston, pay. 2) Employees who want the Reston rate must qualify as John Farrell describes. Nannies are only provided Reston status if they are accompanying a minor child who is Reston qualified in an offering. We do not extend the "Reston" privilege to independent contractors without a fixed business address in Small District 5. 3) RCC and the Park Authority both exist to serve the people of Reston; the Park Authority serves the entire County as well. The amenities provided by the Park Authority and by RCC are public amenities--making those amenities better doesn't represent a conflict of interest. We look forward to hearing from everyone and will take all viewpoints into consideration; please send us contact information as described above so we can keep everyone equally informed.
Laura Ramon February 13, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Mr. Farrell- if you'll check the Fairfax County employment requirements for Department & Agency heads you'll find there is NO RESIDENCY requirement.
Laura Ramon February 13, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Lilguy- what exactly is being inferred by this? Do you think people are getting kick-backs? I honestly do not get it. How is Mr. Bouie supposed to benefit? It seems the only outcome should all this come to pass would be additional facilities in Reston, primarily for Reston's residents use. Where is the scam in this proposal?
David Barry February 13, 2013 at 08:50 PM
"We know that Reston will require another HS/JHS campus and space for that must be taken into account." It's only been a few years since the second HS/JHS campus was declared NOT needed and given to the FCPA. That was the property known as Baron Cameron Park. The school system had that land for decades and was letting the parks use it until it was needed for a school. Then they said it would never be used. So now, just a few years later, if we really need those schools, it seems the Park Authority should give the land back to the school system to use as originally planned. So maybe nobody should be building an indoor rec center on that land.
kevin February 25, 2013 at 09:56 PM
It is not clear to me why this would be interpreted as "RCC/Gordon bashing". I had the same reaction when I saw the same consultants being used again. They did not create a lot of confidence or trust the last time around. It does not seem to serve anyone, either pro, con or in between, to use them. Surely there are other experts in this field.

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