What Will Happen to Reston's Dog Park?

Dog owners organize petition to ensure play area stays if new Reston Community Center is built at Baron Cameron Park.

As the process of gathering community feedback on a proposed new Reston Community Center to be built at Baron Cameron Park continues, several groups have formed in opposition.

There is an online petition urging RCC officials to keep the dog park, as well as a  Facebook group titled Save Baron Cameron Park.

Baron Cameron Park features Reston's only dedicated dog park on its 68 acres. The park is also home to many soccer and baseball fields.

"We walk our rescue dog to this dog park seven days a weeks, year round for socializing and playtime," one resident wrote on the petition. "This dog park is heavily used and loved by the community and is one of the main reasons we moved here (green space, parks and trails). PLEASE....DO NOT take it away from us !!!"

RCC executive director Leila Gordon says there is nothing that has come up in the planning thus far that would interfere with either the dog park or the athletic fields.

"Nothing we are contemplating would necessarily infringe on the dog park or the park in its totality," she said. "It is hard to persuade people we are not talking about the new facility taking over the whole park. It would be about five acres of the 68-acre park."

RCC, in partnership with Fairfax County Park Authority, announced in February that it is looking into building a new facility. It is working with consulting firm Brailsford & Dunlavey to determine the community's wishes and the feasibility of a new facility.

If built, the facility would likely feature a 50-meter indoor pool, as well as other fitness amenities. However, Gordon says it is premature to envision what will be there.

"I think people assume we are going to build everything everyone wants," she said. "Everything about this kind of enterprise involves compromise. We are not going to completely satisfy everyone in every neighborhood. The reason the process is open is so that we make the smartest decisions we can make."

Gordon says there are three concerns the public has expressed that RCC is looking into.

*The park's ability to keep doing what it is doing (ie, dog park, ball fields, keeping open space open).

*Maintain quality of life for Baron Cameron-area residents who are concerned with traffic and parking issues.

*The cost - making sure people's taxes would not be impacted.

"We are trying to listen to concerns and respond appropriately and make sure we understand and plan," she said.

The process has a long way to go, she added. There are several more public comment sessions as part of RCC Board meetings in April. There will be a meeting with Brailsford & Dunlavey representatives at 6:30 p.m. on May 6 at RCC Hunters Woods. The Park Authority will launch its own public feedback process on May 7.

Click here to see important dates and FAQs.

"We are a long way from a concept," said Gordon.

She added that even if everything falls exactly on schedule, the earliest the issue would go to a ballot here would be November of 2014. If that passes, work would begin in spring of 2015.


RCC Sizing Up 50-Meter Pool Competition

What's on Your RCC Wish List?

Tennis Not Likely at Potential New RCC Facility


RCC Outlines Process for New Community Center 



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Are you concerned about the impact of a new RCC on Baron Cameron Park? Tell us in the comments.

Elizabeth Brooks April 03, 2013 at 02:48 PM
This has a been an on going process with the RCC. This very proposal was shot down by the community a couple of years ago as a bad location for this type of facility. This area should be kept as open space. I personally have a community garden in this space and would be very sad to loose this for a community center. There are many empty office buildings across the Dulles Toll road. This would seem to be an ideal solution to take one one/some of theses buildings and build out as a community center. The community spoke two years ago "stop spending our money on feasability studies for a community center, especially on this land" Beth Brooks North Point
Jennifer April 03, 2013 at 03:11 PM
I personally am very concerned about the impact to the elementary school. I have submitted questions asking about the impact of construction noise on the learning process and safety concerns with respect to having a construction site adjacent to an elementary school. Additionally, I asked if this move forward would everyone involved in the construction of the project be subject to background checks that reflected the fact that they would be working in close proximity to children. I am concerned that the impact to the elementary school is not being factored into the decision process.
Mike Jewell April 03, 2013 at 03:37 PM
The whole notion of Reston is (or is it was?) that facilities like this would be in areas designated for mixed use, such as village centers, which already have parking. By definition, buildings and parking lots are closed and developed, not open spaces
John Smith April 03, 2013 at 04:42 PM
I agree with Mike Jewell on this. Some who have watched Reston for a number of years are concerned about the slow, insidious creep of asphalt and concrete into what once were green spaces. As to Leila Gordon's comment, "It is hard to persuade people we are not talking about the new facility taking over the whole park. It would be about five acres of the 68-acre park." Yes, only five acres here, and five acres there, and another five acres somewhere else, and sooner or later Reston is nothing but asphalt and concrete. How about somebody standing up and saying "No!" to such encroachment?
The BSD Guy April 03, 2013 at 05:45 PM
This is just another example of developers creating a "need" where one doesn't exist just to make some money...but this time it's on county (i.e. OUR) land. If your house needs a paint job or a new set of cabinets, do you tear it down and build a new one? I didn't think so.
Robert Beale April 03, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Baron Cameron Park is now very heavily utilized. When the kids, teenagers, and adults who visit the park for soccer, baseball, softball, dog walking, running, walking, flying electric airplanes, or kids maybe flying a kite or toy rocket, are all in school or working, residents drive to the park to relax, bird watch, read a newspaper or book and enjoy a cup of coffee. Telescopes are seen at times set up to view a comet or the planets and heavens. In the April 11, 2012, Washington Post article on Reston's founder, New York native Robert E. Simon, Jr., he was quoted,” Density is good, it makes open space possible." But Reston in development since 1964, today almost fifty years later, lacks one nice sizable park with benches and a place to relax under the shade of a tree. Many of us located to Reston for the easy, relaxed and quiet life style offered by the treed areas, open space and lack of density. Careful re-development is needed with Reston's core quality values preserved. Fact is that this planned recreation center if built will impact open space, with more concrete, more noise, more congestion, more density, and more traffic, and bring more light pollution. Let us all just say, "NO!" to this continued development ruin of Reston. Please let Baron Cameron Park, a very significant parcel of quiet open space, stay just as it is.
leslie sogandares April 03, 2013 at 08:26 PM
I moved to Reston when the North Point area was open space. There were huge cries from the community about the construction of neighborhoods and schools and North Point Village Center, etc. What was created out of that beautiful, open, green space is lovely and thriving now. Yes, this proposed center will impact open space and create congestion where there isn't as much now, just as the entire North Point area did several years ago. But development ruin? Not exactly. Just the continued exploration of opportunities for people in this community who want a facility that is on par with those in the rest of the county: one that supports therapeutic exercise classes, competitive swimming for the local high school and masters swimmers, among numerous club teams, and fitness activities for youth and adults all over Reston.
Robert Beale April 03, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Baron Cameron Park this Wednesday afternoon 6-7:00 PM Survey. There were about eighty to hundred cars/SUVs/trucks parked with vehicles continually streaming into park. Weather was windy and a bit chilly with dust blowing over fields. Four large soccer groups on fields, a man flying his kite, fifteen to twenty pet owners in Dog Park, a few kids on slides/swings, ladies pushing children in strollers along though parking area, two trucks being filled with free mulch, birds flying in and around trees and garden allotments and the large grove of hardwoods in center of circle drive near Baron Cameron, and someone sitting in his vehicle reading a newspaper, drinking a cup of coffee, and watching the evening shadows lengthen. Seems all were enjoying this early cool and windy late spring afternoon. There is not much open space left, but there may be lots of vacant and unused properties after the planned re-development gets going full force. If you value this park and its quiet open space, everyone needs to let their voice be heard in appropriate venues. Re-development needs to be sensitive to the needs of all of our residents, and carefully planned and considered.
RMV April 05, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Better to build this facility over at Lake Anne which perennially needs a shot in the arm anyway...
Java Master April 06, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Reston is just chock full of self-important n.i.m.b.y.'s, isn't it?
Robert Beale April 06, 2013 at 08:45 PM
Why should we in Reston have to drive to Great Falls Park to find a bit of quiet open space for relaxation? It is not about n i m b y people, it is about all who live in Fairfax County and Reston who now use Baron Cameron Park. I think this is the only large parcel of sort of "secluded" and partially treed/open park-like space left in Reston. Absence of a building on the site adds to the quality of the recreational site.
Tom G. April 09, 2013 at 12:59 AM
Let's be clear, the addition of a large indoor swimming facility at Baron Cameron Park means the loss of existing athletic fields, which are very heavily used by soccer and softball players, and they double as informal recreational space for many local residents. Such multi-purpose parks are also an integral part of our neighborhoods as that is where we recreate on a daily basis (keep in mind, we generally do not have private yards in this part of Reston). While people would no doubt use an aquatics facility, there are already lots of people using the facilities that already exist in Baron Cameron Park. The place is mobbed three seasons out of the year, and the dog park is heavily used year round. I know, I'm there almost every single day, year round. We can't keep replacing outdoor recreational space with indoor facilities just because the financial cost of green space is cheaper than other options. We will end up with no outdoor recreational space left and there's no getting it back. Judging by the crowds at Baron Cameron Park, there is already a shortage of outdoor fields and recreational space. Maybe the advocates for and potential users of the proposed aquatic facility should swing by Baron Cameron Park to see all of the people they would push out of the way in order to realize their swimming dreams.
Tom G. April 09, 2013 at 02:23 AM
It's not a nimby issue. It's a matter of the park being heavily used already and appropriate to a residential area. It's not some vacant lot that nobody is using. It's a very heavily used recreational area with athletic fields and a dog park. One wonders how the swimmers would react if people suggested replacing existing pools with more tennis courts, skate parks, baseball/soccer fields, dog parks, basketball courts, etc.
Michael April 09, 2013 at 03:11 AM
There isn't actually a shortage of outdoor fields in Reston. Drive around at pretty much any time and you'll find several fields not in use. However, they are neighborhood fields - one here, two there, scattered all over. They don't have the critical mass: if you go to one of them and it's taken, you have to drive somewhere else. But if you go to BC and one field is taken, there's another one right there. If you want a quiet, green space to sit on a bench and relax, try the network of trails from Hunter's Woods to South Lakes, or the park behind Lake Audubon, or any of a number of other places. This is not to say the proposed center should be built at BC Park. It shouldn't . I'm just saying that some of the 'evidence' cited against it is weak at best. The real argument is that it should be closer to Metro and Highway access, not that BC is some sort of irreplaceable crown jewel.
DGeorge April 09, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Again, no one mentions Tall Oaks. Perfect place for a Community center. It is now an empty eyesore. It is already paved over. There is no need to destroy any more of our open spaces.
Brian April 17, 2013 at 01:15 PM
At this point there is no proposal on the table that would eliminate the Baron Cameron Dog Park. Whether you support the RCC proposal for an indoor facility or not, keep in mind the specifics of the plan are not yet developed. It is possible, even likely, the indoor facility would not threaten the dog park. Personally, I echo the many sentiments here and elsewhere. I think a modern indoor recreation center is critical to Reston's future. But Baron Cameron is the wrong location, mainly because it is really the only major outdoor open space park we have. Michael's point is well taken, but Baron Cameron is very different from say South Lakes park or individual ball fields. I also am completely against any small tax district to pay for a Fairfax County rec center. Other parts of the county have facilities financed by the entire county. Why should Reston have to pay YET ANOTHER special tax for something that is not exclusive to Reston. The "discounts" offered to those of us in the tax district are not sufficient to justify another layer of taxes and fees.
Tom G. April 17, 2013 at 08:28 PM
I agree with your other points in the last paragrapn. But I visit Baron Cameron Park almost every day, sometimes more than once, and it is often extremely crowded. Sure you can find times (e.g., when kids are in school or winter) when there are empty fields, but almost anytime the weather is nice and kids aren't in school, the park is quite full. The dog park is heavily used year-round (should be many more).
Restonresident April 17, 2013 at 09:33 PM
There are 9 Recreation Centers in Fairfax County funded by the County. Fairfax County has approximately 1.2 million residents. Reston and small district 5 has approximately 60,000 resident and these residents pay extra taxes just to have RCC. As far as i can tell the only difference between RCC and the other county Recreation centers is that RCC has a small theater and a few meeting rooms. Surely these additional facilities are not worth the current extra taxes. If that is not bad enough now RCC and FCPA want to build another Recreation Center! That would give the 60,000 residents TWO recreation centers whereas elsewhere approximately $125,000 residents share one Recreation center. This is just a waste of our tax dollars. We then the have the issue of doing away with open space, soccer, lacrosse, flag football, softball fields and the dog park. This whole process is being driven by a very small group of individuals and is not representative of the community at large. In my opinion this project makes no sense on several levels: -facility not needed based upon population -a waste of tax revenues -loss of open space -loss of athletic fields when there is a chronic shortage -loss of dog park - additional density in a residential community
gj May 06, 2013 at 08:11 PM
I moved to Reston in August 1988 and was drawn by the open spaces and lack of commercial enterprise. I personally hate what has become of this planned community. Now a $35 million "facility" is being suggested mostly being backed by RCC and a small group of swimmers called the Master Swimmers. At the same time that RCC wants to further burden our overcrowded roads, our heavy tax base and take away the last large open green space ... a private enterprise Lifetime Sports [I believe] is planning a 100,000 sq ft sports facility near the skating center on Sunset Hills Road. There will be water features inside and out. We certainly have enough pools in Reston and, in fact, some have been closed due to lack of use. WHY do we need to kill our last large green space for a small percentage of people. Baron Cameron Park is green space, not commercial space. This recreation facility is NOT needed in Reston. We must insist that this not go in. The intersection of Baron Cameron and Wiehle Avenue is one of the most dangerous intersections in Reston now. Once the Silver Line is open, use of these roads will skyrocket. To add a commercial facility at Baron Cameron park will make these roads almost impassable and accidents will soar. Gail Jordon


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