Simon to RA Board: 'Grow Up' and Borrow

Reston founder says Reston Association should find the money to get indoor tennis facility built.

Indoor tennis has been off the table for Reston Association this year, but it has been on the mind of Reston founder Robert E. Simon recently.

The 98-year-old Simon spoke to the RA Board of Directors as part of the public comment session at the board's regular meeting last week. 

Simon praised the board for being more sensible than past groups, but urged them to borrow money to give Reston Association members an indoor tennis facility.

"Covered tennis and covered swimming are things we should have had for a long time and haven't because of damned fool ways with money," Simon said. "You are not obligated to have a [money] reserve at all. All I can say with great passion is let's get on with this thing and use our borrowing capacity to get the things that the citizens want."

After much research, debate and discussion in 2010 and 2011 about a proposed indoor tennis facility at Lake Newport, the RA board voted in December to not put the issue to referendum in 2012.

The timing to push forward in an economic downturn when there are existing RA recreational facilities that need money and attention was one major reason for killing the issue, at least temporarily.

The five-court facility was projected to cost $3.8 million to build, and one projection had RA borrowing 100 percent of the money - but covering costs rather quickly through USTA fees and lessons.

Putting it to referendum alone would cost RA $75,000. Many citizens have spoken out for and against the issue.

In December, the RA board also voted to direct staff to actively seek opportunities, including potential public-partnerships, in the future.  

Simon told the board Thursday it is "un-American" not to have debt.

"I think you all will make some sense, which your previous boards have not done," he said. "I appeal you to be sensible. You are Americans! It is un-American not to have debt."

"I am optimistic you all can make sense for the first time," Simon said. "I am looking at each one of you and will follow your vote on this kind of thing."

Simon said the board should spend - not just on tennis but on improving existing facilities.

"Several pools in need of repair," he said. "I walk on paths that are a disgrace. Don't look at the budget. Look at what needs to be done and do it. Banks will lend you the money."

"Grow up," he added. "That's what I have to say."

John Farrell September 18, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Bill Congratulations on your forthcoming re-election to the Reston Community Center Board. Chair of the Park Authority and member of the RCC Board, too. So much responsibility for just one guy. It must be daunting. For most taxpayers and users of the centers, the variance between a "community center" and a "recreation center" is a distinction without a difference. When the Park Authority recreation centers run a deficit, the shortfall is made up by the General Fund, yes? The debt service for those buildings is paid out of the General Fund, no? That General Fund includes the taxes paid by Restonians, yes? The bonds to build those centers are backed by the full faith and credit of Fairfax County and count against the County bond limit imposed by Wall Street so that bonds issued for those recreation centers crowd out bonds to build schools to reduce the gross overcrowding in Reston's schools, no? Meanwhile, RCC is funded by a surtax paid by Restonians alone. The bonds are paid off by Restonians alone. And the discount for the services Restonians receive versus the fees paid by others is deminimus. So Restonians get to pay for RCC and the recreation centers. And we get to pay practically the same fees at RCC as non-Restonians. Isn't that just swell. I understood that, at one time, RCC had a $4 million surplus. Whatever happened to that?
DGeorge September 18, 2012 at 11:35 PM
What we need is an indoor Curling facility. It is high time that the Reston Curling team had a place to practice, complete with bleachers for the fans to watch the competitions. We have turned our backs on this sport long enough.
The Analyst September 19, 2012 at 07:08 PM
When it comes to using other peoples time and money, **other peoples, not their own ** developers like Simon are very, very generous.. ....but don't you dare touch one of their penney's - they'll sick Cathy Hudgins on you.
DGeorge September 19, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Also what we need is a Velodrome. Just think of all the people that have to ride their bicycles out in the weather all winter long. How about all the deprived Scotts people that have nowhere to toss their Cabers except out in the snow. A combination indoor Curling, Velo and Caber tossing facility is what we should be building.
Reston Timer September 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I began to think I was one of the few who thought or thinks the same about Mr. Simon and I also agree with John G too... respect Mr. Simon for what he started and a vision that he seems to have forgotten. I remember in a RA Parks and Planning Committee meeting when there was a lively discussion going on concerning the [dis]merits of the indoor tennis facility when Mr. Simon blurted out "Why do we keep discussing this over and over....we just tell the people what will be done and then do...don't ask just do..." Needless to say I was taken back when all that Reston stands for is serving the members/residents for their interests and having them participate in processes affecting their futures. Dictate??? I don't think so...


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