RA Will Give $20K for Movie Project

Donation will help produce film to run in 2014 - Reston's 50th birthday and Reston founder Robert E. Simon's 100th birthday.

Reston Association will give up to $20,000 to a local film production company that is making a film about Reston's first 50 years.

The RA Board of Directors voted last week at its regular monthly meeting to give the donation to Storycatcher Productions. The decision had been tabled from the board's Dec. 13 meeting.

RA president Ken Knueven said at the December meeting that the film will be a permanent legacy in telling the story of Reston, so the Reston Association should support it.

The movie, tentatively titled The Reston Story: A Film About Reston, Virginia - The First 50 Years, will tell the story from Reston's beginnings as farmland purchased by founder Robert E. Simon for $1,500 an acre.

The movie is part of the 2014 celebration of Simon's 100th birthday, Reston's 50th birthday, and Reston Town Center's 25th anniversary.

Meanwhile, Reston Commuity Center says it will give $50,000 a year, each year, for three years (FY12, FY13, FY14) to support different film chapters, says RCC executive director Leila Gordon. 

Other local funders include Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Comstock. An individual giving campaign will begin at the 2013 Founder's Day Celebration on April 13.

The director is Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, a Reston native and documentary filmmaker. Susan Jones, a former RA president, is providing research, production and writing assistance.

The Reston Historic Trust is also helping with the project,

Total cost of the film is expected to be about $300,000.


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John Doe January 30, 2013 at 05:09 PM
Sometimes I think I'm in the "Twilight Zone" when I read the Reston Patch (BTW, the Reston Patch does a great job of getting the news to us!). I'm not sure if the RA is run by a bunch of clowns or are we the clowns for putting up with this nonsense?.
Brian January 30, 2013 at 05:19 PM
I respect Mrs. Simon as well but this is insane. The pathways near our neighborhood are desperately in need of repaving, as mentioned we have graffiti that needs removing and other critical project needs. Does R.A. even have the authority to make this kind of "investment?"
Brian January 30, 2013 at 05:20 PM
That should be "Mr." Simon!
Karen Goff January 30, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Thanks, John Doe!
stephen fehr January 30, 2013 at 07:43 PM
That reminds me. I have to send in my assessment soon.
El January 30, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Robin Smyers January 30, 2013 at 11:02 PM
If you have concerns about trash, contact their offices. The staff is very helpful, and if you have an area of particular concern, let them know. From the RA website: RA picks up trash at our recreational facilities and from cans placed along the pathway system. We also have a contract with VDOT that allows us to pick up trash before each roadway’s mowing cycle. Therefore, please be aware that the frequency of trash removal and mowing is controlled by VDOT. Four primary trash haulers pick up trash in Reston on a contract basis with the homeowners. If you are interested in leaving yard debris, contact your trash hauler first to learn of their requirements. If you live in an apartment, condominium or townhouse, your management or cluster board is responsible for contracting with a trash removal service. Contact them for details. If you don’t know how to contact them, call RA at (703) 437-9580.
Robin Smyers January 30, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Brian~ Let RA's Maintenance staff know there is a graffiti issue...they will respond immediately and do their best to remove or fix the problem on the pathways. There are 55 miles to maintain, and every year, the Association fixes pathways/overpasses/underpasses, and the areas owned by RA. If you see something, let them know by either calling the offices or email. Information is on the website or call the Central Services Facilty number: (703) 437-7658. They are a great group of folks and appreciate the notification.
Laura Calacci January 30, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Robin, Thanks for your response. I have called RA several times and all I get is lip service. I have called Hudgins office and they literally asked me "where is the trash you are talking about?" Its as if they do not see the beer bottles, cans and fast food wrappers that are literally all over Reston. I don't really care about whose responsibility it is. Can't RA coordinate w/ Hudgins' office & VDOT to rectify this problem? While RA trucks are out driving around can't they pick up trash where they see it? If we can afford to pay for this movie, the I-Pads for the board members, and the turf field at South Lakes, can't we afford to pay to keep our community clean? I would also be for the police giving tickets out for littering with a BIG fine.
Scott January 31, 2013 at 12:23 AM
With RA budget woes and increase in RA Assessments I am appalled by this expenditure. Moreover It is very disappointing action by our elected board. I am also dismayed by many recent actions as I supported Donna Miller Rostant who I thought was fiscally minded and one big turn on was her campaign stated she understood we pay RA AND Cluster Fees to live in Reston. I think we need to start watching and attending more meetings. They cry poor and raise of RA fees then they spend foolishly. Very, very disheartening!
Brian January 31, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Robin, I believe RA does a good job managing our facilities and the staff has always been very responsive. To be honest I've had less encouraging response at the county level. But that is besides the point. I know RA could use the money more wisely on critical issues. It just feels like an inappropriate use of dues.
Brian January 31, 2013 at 01:13 AM
Laura, I completely agree with you on the county's response on these issues. I've also called and received the "what trash?" questions and seen no action. Trash, litter, graffiti and similar problems slowly diminish a community's appeal. Why can't RA and the county coordinate to regularly address this issue?
John Lovaas January 31, 2013 at 05:55 AM
Amazing. We have a very special community, one recognized nationwide in urban and community planning literature. Reston not only has a Founder who created a very special innovative newtown that most of us treasure, but it also has a set of founding principles which set us apart from other communities. Our Founder, Robert E. Simon, is still with us and is nearing 100 years of age. I pay my dues, too, and do not always agree with the Association, but find that they generally do a great job managing and keeping up our community. And, I am pleased to learn that the RA Board has decided to make a modest, but potentially key, contribution to make this documentary a reality. If it is the quality product it would appear to be, it is something we can all appreciate, enjoy and share with our families and friends. It is also a historical record for schools here and around the country, a record we are all a part of and indeed ought to be proud of. I know I am. Thanks for making this contribution, RA.
El January 31, 2013 at 02:13 PM
We would have been better served if this was done by private contributions.
Lilguy January 31, 2013 at 04:00 PM
There's nothing the RA Board would rather do than give other people's money (yours & mine) away to friends and family. RA ought to spend more time and (yes) money improving Reston than hawking it.
Scott January 31, 2013 at 04:07 PM
John, I think you are missing a key point here. You can not spend what you do not have. RA just last month stated that dues needed to be raised to repair existing infrastructure that had not been maintained over many years. I think that eased the blow of the increase....but then they are spending money foolishly. Turf field at SLHS and now this documentary. I think that if the Reston Museum solicited private donations they would have raised the money from willing donors, not taking money from what they claim are low funds to begin with. Personally, I think it is very irresponsible action.
Scott January 31, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Orlina Tucker January 31, 2013 at 06:37 PM
I suppose an argument could be made that the movie ultimately highlights Reston as a desirable place to live, which in turns ups our property values, but I'm stretching. There are any number of other things the RA could spend 20 grand on (kick in 20Gs for a study on what to do with mostly-vacant village centers, perhaps?) This seems like an opportunity for RA members to have their egos stoked. Are any of the RAS members related to anyone involved in making this picture?
Orlina Tucker January 31, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Charlie February 01, 2013 at 04:05 PM
I'm looking forward to the screening.
Laura Ramon February 01, 2013 at 04:19 PM
I don't understand who's egos you're referring to, the membership? The Board? And are you implying some impropriety with staff?
Kate Peterson February 01, 2013 at 04:33 PM
As a percentage of the total RA budget this is a very small contribution. I think that a professionally produced film will be an excellent contribution to Reston's historical record and that it helps to further inculcate the "principles" in residents who have come to Reston more recently. Preserving and documenting what makes Reston special is as important as maintaining our infrastructure and is consistent with the Board's mission. The film is being produced by a native Restonian who has already done some stellar work - if you haven't seen the film on public art in Reston you should drop by the Reston Museum at Lake Anne to see it- it's a beautiful piece. And finally- Wow, as I read the complaints about the RA Board of Directors I'm wondering how many of you sought to run for any of the 3 vacant seats? I'm also sadden by the scorn and vitriol you all seem to have for your neighbors who spend hours doing this volunteer job that none of you seem to be willing to do- very nice.
Scott February 01, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Kate, I completely appreciate your stance and respect you for it. Nonetheless, you have to also understand that as outlined above RA is spending money it does not have! We have been told that dues will need to continue to increase over the next several years to balance the budget and large ticket items need to be addressed to which as of now is not in the budge. The position that the 20K is a small contribution in the overall RA budget is irresponsible stewardship. If you cry poor as the RA board has stated, then tighten your belt and live within your means. This is particularly prudent when you are spending the citizens money. I for one do not see why RA should be allocating anything to preserve the history of Reston. Other organizations focus on this and should solicit contributions. I would be that a booth at Reston Days in Town Center could easily raise 20K plus and this would be from willing contributors. I disagree that this film is as important as maintaining our infrastructure. Let the infrastructure go to pot and what does that say about Reston? When pools have to close in the heat of the summer due to mechanical problems that is poor planning!! As for running for the board....many have! How do you know that none of the respondents to this article have not? You don't so throwing mud is not nice! When you nickle and dime people and cry poor and then spend foolishly the negativity will flow...This is case and point!
Donna Rostant February 01, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Scott, First, thanks for your vote. I am fiscally minded and will continue to be so. Having said that, I agreed to the expenditure for the film. Let me explain why. Before I make any decision to spend RA money, I carefully consider whether it’s worth the investment. In this instance, I think John Lovaas has it right. While we do have shortcomings, Reston is a very desired community for many reasons. Folks want to move here and our housing market reflects that. Reston is a community. And a unique one. Maintaining our desirability and uniqueness adds value for all of us. We discussed the benefits and disadvantages of contributing to the project in great detail at our Board meeting. I can assure you, it wasn’t a decision any of us took lightly. The amount we agreed to fund is small, given the contributions of other organizations and RA is providing no other financial support for the celebration. For me, it wasn’t an easy call, but I do believe in the overall scheme of things, it is an important project. I hope it proves to be. Scott, I really want you, or any other Restonian, to feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about what we do as a Board. I will listen and I do take your concerns seriously.
Laura Calacci February 01, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Donna, Thanks for your willingness to listen. Its so obvious to me that RA is a microcosm of big government. There are no fiscal conservatives on the board. Saying that 20K is a small amount compared to what other organizations are giving is not relevant. RCC donating money to this film (and to South Lakes turf fields) is a TAX on the people in Reston, since RCC is funded through our tax dollars. RA is not a charity. Even through its sponsorship of events like JUMPING INTO THE LAKE IN FEB, RA is donating to a charity with our money. And I'm sure it is for a very good cause. But that is not the point. Its not for a HOME OWNER"S ASSOCIATION to give to charities with our money. When I asked about this previously, I was told that RA only gave to the Lake jump in the form of man hours. Unless the RA employees donated the time, we are paying for it. I do give to many charities that I choose. I don't want RA making these decisions. Making this film & patting Bob Simon on the back is not going to add one bit of value to anything in Reston. I think its really sad to see how RA has gotten too big for its britches. But I think its hopeless for anyone to try and run for a board where they are outnumbered by big spenders. Tax and spend. Sound familiar? I wonder how many people will even see the damn film?
Scott February 01, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Well done Laura! You said what many are thinking - why bother they do not listen. Well, from now on I am going to voice my opposition to this spend, spend, spend mentality! Next year when we get our dues with yet another increase maybe the fine folks of Reston can start asking the hard questions! Fiscal responsibly!
Laura Calacci February 01, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Thanks Scott. I have seriously been told by many people that I should run for the Board and maybe I should.
K2 February 04, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Ridiculous use of money. This is like a restaurant spending 20K in advertising costs and then only advertising to its own employees. Seriously, there is much better use of this money than a one time viewing at a celebration. No one will ever watch this movie again and, do we really need them to? Do we really need to advertise for Reston and tell more developers how great it is? If the folks who are more into arts and history and soft investments like this really need to spend this money, for the love of humanity, spend it on something more tangible. Art classes, new playground, something that benefits the community. I love living in Reston but I don't need to nominate either Reston or its founder for Sainthood. The person(s) who decided to spend this money are too close to the problem and have been influenced to believe that this decision was for the betterment of Reston culture as a whole (somehow). It is righteous for the RA to believe that it is doing this for our own good, or, that we should be proud to have this movie made. Fast forward a few years - a movie, really? Reston is comprised of people and neighborhoods. Take care of the people and neighborhoods. This is just exhausting.
Java Master February 05, 2013 at 04:12 AM
I agree with K2, Scott, Laura and others here that this was a poor decision. RA is not, and should not be, in the film financing business. I can only hope that this mistake will NOT be repeated in the future, along with such puzzling decisions as paying $26K for a community survey of questionable content and utility. And regarding Mr, Simon--hey, I like the guy too, right?...but this continued lionization of the gent risks going beyond the pale. Remember that there indeed are other planned communities as well, and Reston ( nor Columbia, MD , nor The Woodlands, TX for that matter ) was not necessarly the model for all that followed. Reston is now being consummed in total by the continuing development of Fairfax County. RA should therefore be concentrating on direct services and the maintenance of its amenties for which Reston residents are assessed, and NOT on public relations and "legacy" type frou-frou. Enough of the cumbayah communtarianism--we want a solid return and visible results for our assessment dollars. Are you listening, RA?
chicoman22 February 24, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Laura, You are absolutely correct on all points.What justification does the RA have to spend the members dues(significant raise this year) on projects like this.You forgot the recent survey done by the RA for 26k.Are there going to be any results published??The RA has all email addresses and can easily get the results of this survey out and maybe some anticipated actions to make to address any issues that may come from the survey.I am not confident that it will happen but I hope we can share in the information that we paid for on a random survey of 3000 RA members.By the way,I am totally sure that a resident of an area assisted living facility received 2 surveys "randomly" addressed to her address.


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