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RA Candidates Talk Metro's Impact on Reston

Knueven, Thompson and Cohn discuss improving existing assets and preparing for a transit-oriented Reston at 2013 Candidates Forum.

Metro is coming to Reston, but is Reston ready for Metro?

That was the recurring theme of Monday night's Reston Association candidates forum, where the three candidates for three open board spots answered pre- submitted questions from RA members and RA Election Committee members.

Since all three candidates are running unopposed - the first time this has happened since 2009 - they are all but assured three-year terms on the board. However, RA By-Laws say there must be an election and there must be a quorum of 10 percent of the eligible votes for each district.

So At-Large candidate Ken Knueven (current RA president), North Point candidate Tim Cohn and Lake Anne/Tall Oaks candidate Eve Thompson participated in the relatively mellow forum - where they agreed on most topics.

Metro came up often. With the opening of the Wiehle-Reston East station set for December, Reston is headed for big changes in development, traffic, and housing, among other areas.

"A lot of infrastructure needs to be taken care of," Cohn said in response to what his biggest budget priorities would be. "We are getting Metro, and we need to figure out how to get pedestrian and bike access in place. We have to do it fairly quickly."

Knueven said it is important for the upcoming board and future boards to continue thinking about Metro accessibility for walkers and bikers to in order to take the stress off of area roads.

"What can Reston do? We can realign paths - can we make them better, better lit," he said.

Thompson said Metro is a "huge opportunity" for RA to show what it can do.

"This is an amazing chance to make Reston even more fantastic than it is," said Thompson, a Realtor who has lived in Reston for more than 30 years.

"We can guide it the way we want to be guided," she said. "We can be demanding on design aspects so we stay special and not become a cookie-cutter kind of environment."

The candidates all stressed the importance of improving and updating RA's assets. At nearly 50 years old, some amenities are showing their age, Knueven pointed out.

"It goes back to priority-based budgeting," he said. "To me, allocate dollars to have a proactive voice and an outcome beneficial to us. I remember coming here in the mid-60s for Reston's grand opening. I though this was a set on a sci-fi movie.  It was beautiful, and it is beautiful today, but we are getting older. It is important to allocate funds so we improve what we have."

This is an exciting time for Reston, said Cohn, a water scientist and former Reston Runners president.

"The question we 'how are we going to respond to Metro?' "It is going to lead to a lot of development. There is a lot of money to be made, new places to open, higher density, better restaurants and a more urban look. It is exciting."

The RA voting period is now open. Members should receive ballots in the mail this week. For information on online voting, click here.

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