Several hundred people gathered across the street from Reston National Golf Course on Saturday to show support to keep the course open space.
The rally was organized by Rescue Reston, the grassroots advocacy group that was formed in August after it was learned that the owners of Reston National inquired about whether they had residential rights to the golf course. When the county said no, RN Golf Management filed an appeal with the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).
That appeal will be heard Oct. 24. At Saturday's rally, Rescue Reston executive director John Pinkman encouraged residents to get involved — to write to the BZA, to put up Rescue Reston yards signs and to sign a petition.
"If the BZA overturns the zoning deciscion, this is the crack in the dam," said Pinkman, who has lived in Reston for more than 30 years. "If you can do it once, you can do it twice. If you can do it in Reston, you can do it anywhere."
"Act now!" he told rally attendees. "It is important we be ready for this."
Offering support for the cause was Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. While Hudgins is often criticized by citizens for being an advocate for development, she assured the crowd she is for preserving Reston National as open space.
"I don't want to minimize that this could be a challenge," she said of fighting the threat from developers. "But [Fairfax County] Zoning has opined correctly, It supports Reston. I respect the process. I see the outcome of this being preservation of the golf course and open space."
Also speaking were Reston Association South Lakes Director Richard Chew and Reston Citizens Association President Colin Mills.
Chew reminded the crowd that RA has voted on a resolution that it is firmly behind preserving the golf course and has hired a top land use law firm to aid in the battle. Mills also reaffirmed his group's total support.
"Open space like our golf course is central to Reston's natural beauty," said Mills. "If we build housing there, we are losing part of the good life. If we lose open space, we become just another sprawling suburb."
"People may wonder what all the fuss is about," said Mills. "This matters because it is more than a questions of the golf course. If the golf course can be developed, then what does that mean for the rest of the open space?"
Prior to the rally, the band Natural Selection entertained the crowd while people waited in line to purchase Rescue Reston T-shirts and yard signs.
Sarah Franchak bought shirts for her whole family. She said she grew up near Reston National. When she and her husband returned to Reston to raise her children — now 9 and 6 years old — they purchased a home on Golf Course Drive.
"My kids play on the golf course," she said. "I grew up on the golf course. It is important to me that it be here."
To read previous stories about this issue, click here.