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RA To Vote on $50K Turf Contribution Thursday

Reston Association weighs funding to help build two synthetic turf sports fields at South Lakes High School.

Reston Association's board of directors will vote Thursday whether to pledge $50,000 to help build artificial turf fields at South Lakes High School.

This is a reduction from the $100,000 the board unanimously approved for this cause earlier this year. However, South Lakes was not chosen last spring for a $175,000 Fairfax County grant to build the field and the issue was shelved.

For nearly a year, South Lakes has been looking to build two turf fields  - one at the stadium, the other on the field area between South Lakes and Langston Hughes Middle School) - at a cost of about $1.4 million.  

Earlier in 2012, the project received commitments from Reston Soccer Association ($250,000), South Lakes' discretionary funds ($30,000) and Reston Community Center ($100,000). The school's athletic boosters group said it will pay $15,000 annually to the reserve and replacement fund.

RA CEO Milton Matthews said earlier this year the RA money will come mainly from fees paid to the association by non residents

When South Lakes High School was not chosen as a recipient of the $175,000 Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) Grant last spring. Former principal Bruce Butler said it was due in part to a developer proffer - set to fund more than $500,000 of the cost - that did not come through in time.

South Lakes was one of four schools vying for the grant. Robinson Secondary and Centreville High School were selected.

Fairfax County Park Authority Board Chair Bill Bouie said Tuesday the authority is ready to work with the school on getting the fields built. SLHS is invited to apply for the same grant in 2013, he said.

"The Park Authority is set to move forward with a partnership if the school gets its funding in place for the stadium field," Bouie said. "Once that is in place, the Park Authority would then partner to fund the community use field to be located where the auxiliary and practice fields are today."

Bouie added there are no other proffers in the works.

Thursday's board motion says RA staff and legal counsel "believe it would be prudent for the Board of Directors to formally reaffirm its support and monetary commitment to the project."

The motion says the community partners are in the process of reaffirming their prior commitments.

"Once the funding from all sources is approved an agreement/memorandum of understanding (MOU) will be developed for sharing field resources based
upon funding commitments of the partners," the motion reads.

The current timeline for the project is as follows, according to the document:

On Dec. 1, $100,000 was transferred from the Board of Supervisors/Neighborhood & Community Services to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) for engineering costs. Later this month, the MOU between project partners will be drafted.

On Jan. 15,  contributors will submit funding for the project. All contributions must be submitted/transferred to FCPS by March 15. If adequate funds are not available, the project will dissolve to the one-field model or the project will fall through and not be able to be built until the summer of 2015, RA documents said.

Reston Association Parks and Recreation Director Larry Butler said previously that turf fields, which will feature lights, would benefit the entire community. He cited studies that show lighted turf fields get 60 percent more use because practice and games are not limited due to weather.

To read about the county's synthetic fields, click here. To read the county's policy on allocating field time to community partners, click here.

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John Farrell December 13, 2012 at 03:19 AM
When your kids takes a $10 out of your wallet without your permission instead of a $20, do you congratulate him, Mike?
Michael December 13, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Contributing users get priority on fields funded through a partnership, in proportion to the percentage of funding they provided. I see how this benefits RSA/RYA as entities eligible to receive field permits; I'm not sure how RA fits into this picture. For that purpose, it might be better if the community use field was built in a different location, on RA land. Unfortunately there aren't many suitable locations (think parking, and proximity to housing) that are on RA land. South Lakes Drive, Stratton Woods, and Baron Cameron are all FCPA facilities. That also would mean losing the school partnership aspect, which is part of the overall funding package. to John's comment below - I'm not sure how Lake Fairfax is relevant to this discussion. It's outside the RA boundaries so the residents of Reston have no particular claim on it anyway.
Michael December 13, 2012 at 03:31 AM
The whole point of this project is to provide a facility that goes beyond the high school's needs so that additional time is available for community use. If we just waited on the county to be "responsible for our schools" they might get a stadium field but not a community one, which is the whole point of the turf conversion in the first place. Just because your Old Man had to play in substandard conditions doesn't mean every generation should have to. The point of turf conversion is well stated elsewhere in this thread.
Michael December 13, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Tammi and John are both wrong on one obvious fact: RA is not spending $100,000. As the story makes clear, they are cutting that in half. You are entitled to your opinion on the merits of the spending, but please be clear about the actual amount involved. Even a cursory glance at the headline should be enough to correct that point!
Michael December 13, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Agree that Reston gets shortchanges somewhat... but I thought Stratton Woods and Baron Cameron improvements had been paid for exclusively with FCPA money? I know they're no EC Lawrence, but they are something, so maybe there's a little hyperbole at work here?
Tammi Petrine December 13, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Michael, you are in error. Nowhere in my entry did I suggest RA was considering 100K; I know they are considering $50K. IT IS RCC that is donating the $100K. Please read carefully before "correcting."
John Farrell December 13, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Tammi is also questioning to RCC's $100,000 contribution in addition to RA's $50,000. But you'd have to read her comment to understand that.
John Farrell December 13, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Stratton Woods is outside RA's boundaries and is shared by leagues in Chantilly and Herndon.
Michael December 13, 2012 at 03:48 AM
John, RA's own maps clearly show that the Stratton Woods park is INSIDE the RA boundary. The neighborhood by that name is not, but the park itself is.
John Farrell December 13, 2012 at 03:51 AM
I was at RA tonight Stratton Woods Park is clearly outside RAs boundaries.
Michael December 13, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Sorry, I missed the distinction between RCC and RA. RCC is a bit of mystery to me, but seems to cover a larger area and have a different mission. I think I got off track because this thread was about the RA contribution and I missed the change-of-subject. Personally I don't question their contribution so much. The days of "schools on one side and community on the other" have got to end, and we need to develop facilities together for the benefit of all. There simply isn't enough land or enough money for each entity to do it on their own. I
Michael December 13, 2012 at 03:59 AM
NO - but if I authorized him to take 20, and then he only takes 10 instead, I'm fine with that. Your analogy is not apt to the situation. Nobody took anything out of anyone's wallet without permission. A democratically elected board approved an expense. That's how government works. There has since been an election; if the citizens of Reston considered this stealing, they would have said so with their ballots. They did not.
Michael December 13, 2012 at 04:00 AM
BTW, John, I don't call you Johnny. Please don't condescend to call me Mike. I prefer to go by the name I have chosen in this forum, which is Michael.
John Farrell December 13, 2012 at 04:14 AM
RA has no authority to spend our assessment money to improve someone else's property whether it's your house, Michael, or FCPS land. Thus, the analogy to your child taking money out of your wallet is exactly apt.
Terry Maynard December 13, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Click here to see an up-to-date map (so far as I know) of FCPA and RA properties in the Reston area: http://www.scribd.com/doc/30773295/Reston-Dulles-Special-Study-2009E4-Parks
Tammi Petrine December 13, 2012 at 04:24 AM
RA is a HOMEOWNERS Association. Period. Our dues are meant to keep up and enhance our communally owned property and improvements. Use of funds for any other purpose is inappropriate, especially to the extent of $100K or $50K!!! RCC is a Community Center with two locations in a community with a lot of needs. However, it is not a sports organization that utilizes playing fields. It is funded by Small Tax District #5. Nowhere in its charter is there mention of funding improvements on FCPS property (that I am aware of). (Director Leila Gordon could correct me if I am misinformed.) Please, please Boards of Directors of both orgs, be aware that your duties are to support your constituents' best interests and the mission of your respective organizations. Fairfax County Park Authority has spent very little in Reston and owes this community much more than we have received. It has been that way for decades. (McLean which is a far more prosperous community with almost no subsidized housing receives its fair share of funding; why should we not expect to get at least two turf fields, for heaven's sake???) I must also say that this is the first time in 30+ years of living in Reston that I have experienced such a misstep by either and both do remarkably excellent work for our community. Let's just keep our priorities in view and let FCPA and FCPS do their partnering on county owned property. Keep up the good work, RA and RCC. FCPA, get out the checkbook.
Michael December 13, 2012 at 04:29 AM
The RA does have authority, according to the deed, to enter into business arrangements and partnerships for the benefit of the membership. Board members are also indemnified against all but gross negligence according to the bylaws...
Michael December 13, 2012 at 04:32 AM
It's not at all apt, because your analogy implies that permission was not granted. Not only was permission granted according to well-established principles of representative democracy, such permission was affirmed in the results of the subsequent election. Your argument is as if I were to have said, "I voted for Gore, so Bush's was spending was without my permisssion." That's not how it works. I hated the war, and didn't want my money spent on it. But I wasn't a sore loser, I accepted that a majority had over-ruled me. I worked to overturn it, but I never accused them of stealing from me in the meantime, because that demeans the overall dialogue.
Michael December 13, 2012 at 04:33 AM
I'm really looking most of all for the definitive answer to John's assertion that this action would be illegal, and would subject board members to personal liability. I don't see it in the deed, or in the bylaws (which in fact indemnify the board in most cases).
Michael December 13, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Thanks for the map.
John Farrell December 13, 2012 at 10:34 AM
Neither the Deed nor the by-laws authorize spending assessments on improving an individual RA member's land. Not do they allow RA to improve a 3rd party's, FCPS', land. Got to also read the applicable statutes & court decisions also. When the assets of a non-stock corporation are used for ultra vires purposes, the board is personally liable to re-imburse the corporation for the funds improperly spent.
Gene December 13, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I agree completely and I'm also wondering about this slight of hand that just occurred. Part of the rationale for another maximum RA dues increase was "$100K for Turf Fileds at SLHS" many of us voiced our objection to no avail but now it's only $50K, I'll be aksing the board directly what they are doing with the $50K. I'll also add that more use of those fields by other entities is not on my list of priorities in the community I call my home. And lastly it is my understanding that there are studies that show more inuries will occur on that type of field, if I was a parent I would be aksing why this is being done. - Gene
Diane Lewis December 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Cannot comment on the legalities here, beyond agreeing that both RA and RCC do outstanding work for our community. However, as the sibling of two former high school and college athletes with current skeletal and muscular problems, i'd like to repeat the commentor's query about the safety of artificial turf. Has it been improved so much that it no longer poses the risk of injury? Grass is just so much softer....
John Farrell December 13, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Diane It's an excellent question I have raised repeatedly. Much to Karen Goff's credit, and unusually for a Patch editor, Karen did some research and found the only studies available addressing the injury experience with FieldTurf. Unfortunately, they were all funded by the manufacturer so their objectivity is properly at issue. Each found that FieldTurf had a small (2%?) percentage of higher rates of various injuries than grass but the differences were not statistically significant. The researchers were honest enough to say that the sample size was not large enough for the results to be definitive. I draw comfort from the comparison between Astroturf and grass where there were 10 fold more concussions on Astroturf than grass and similar ratio with knee and ankle injuries. Astroturf was just a thin carpet over asphalt. Fieldturf has the rubber pellets in the grass layer and is installed on compacted soil not asphalt. We hope we will not see as high rates of injuries as we saw with Astroturf, especially concussions. But the jury is still out. Thus, all of our kids are or will be guinea pigs for this product.
Diane Lewis December 13, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Thanks, John. That information is helpful. Am sure that folks only want the best for these young people who give their all in a sport.
Gene December 14, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Okay so we really do not know if this stuff is going to cause more inury than natural turf. We also know that it is an additonal cost. We do not know why RA is spending our money on this and causing the dues to go up. So who the heck is behind this and why have inquiries and objections been ignored?
John Farrell December 14, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Gene This idea is the brainchild of outgoing RA CEO Milton Mathews, his subordinate Larry Butler and Hunter Mill FCPA member Bill Bouie who is also a member of the RCC advisory board. The same trio who brought us the Brown's Chapel mega-gym and parking garage of 3-4 years ago. It just never stops.
Michael December 14, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I feel a little closer to having an answer. Thanks. Still not convinced, as I'm sure RA has had legal advice at some point in this process as well. They are authorized to enter into business partnerships for the benefit of the membership so they may be considering this under that "idea" instead. I was not aware that the indemnification,clearly stated in the bylaws, does not apply in particular cases. What statute is applicable in over-riding that indemnification?
Michael December 14, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Code of VA 13.1-870.1 states that a non-stock corporation has the power, without limitation, "To make donations for the public welfare or for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes." This applies unless its articles of incorporation provide otherwise. Articles of Incorporation, III.2.d, state that RA may talke action "to promote the peace, health, comfort, safety, and general welfare of the Members;" and III.2.f, "to exercise the powers now or hereafter conferred by law on Virginia nonstock corporations as may be necessary or desirable to accomplish the purposes set forth above." Section V.13.b.1 authorizes the board, by resolution, to budget funds "for purposes found by the Board of Directors to be in the best interests of the Association." Unless there is somewhere else in the articles that expressly forbids it, this could be considered making a donation for the public welfare, and promoting the health and general welfare of members, which are within the RA's rights as a non-stock corporation. There could easily be something I'm missing, as I'm not a lawyer. But RA employs one who can surely provide such advice. If this is indeed illegal, a lawsuit from a member of RA would quickly sort that out.
Bruce Belt May 05, 2013 at 04:49 AM
If only these fields our kids play on WERE grass, but they are in fact barron compacted clay and rocks in most places. Go take a look at the terrible field conditions that exist at Langston Hughes and compare that to the state of the art rubberized turf intended to repace it. NO contest!

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