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RCC Sizing Up 50-Meter Pool Competition

Reston Community Center looking at nearby facilities, financing and demand to make a decision on whether to build a new indoor swim facility.

Figuring out where Reston Community Center stands in comparison to the competition will be a key factor in determining whether to build a new indoor pool and recreation facility at Baron Cameron Park.

RCC officials announced last month they are looking into build a new facility on the grounds of the park, currently owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority.

The top request from residents at the first public feedback session was a 50-meter indoor pool as RCC's current 25-meter indoor pool has way more demand than supply among area swimmers.

RCC is working with consulting firm Brailsford & Dunleavey, the same firm it used in 2008 and '09, when it examined the feasibility of building an indoor recreation facility (along with Reston Association) at Brown's Chapel Park.

Craig Levin, Senior Project Manager of Brailsford & Dunleavy, said much has changed in Reston since the last report - demographics, population, home values, and competition from other current and planned facilities.

"We need to update the competitive context to understand existing and planned facilities," he said. "

At a Community Relations and Program/Policy Committee meeting on Monday, Levin showed the RCC Board of Governors a map of nine indoor recreation facilities closest to Reston. Four of them feature 50-meter pools, which offer more opportunity for competitive swimmers. The closest one to Reston is Oak Marr Recreation Center in Oakton (run by Fairfax County Park Authority).

Levin pointed out a major competitor for a RCC potential new facility is the Lifetime Fitness set to open in Reston later this year. That health club will have both indoor and outdoor pools, but they will not be 50-meter pools.

"Fifty-meter pools are not that common," he said. "There is a lot of interest in adding 50-meter pools." 

Levin also said his firm will look at where RCC compares in pool fees and membership rates. RCC prices are already less than Herndon Community Center or Fairfax County Park Authority Pools.

For instance, an adult resident drop-in fee is $3 at RCC/$6.50 at HCC/$8 at FCPA. 

However, RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon says that data on multiple-visit passes may be hard to compare because passes are different lengths and "resident" means different things in different communities.

New pool or not, RCC aquatic fees may be going up. RCC also released a staff report on Monday that said it is "critical to bring our pricing for visits into better alignment with other area public providers."

"Even without adding to RCC facilities, we are long overdue for adjustments to our single-visit gate fee and our multiple visit and other passes," the report reads.

The report recommended raising fees incrementally to make it easier for patrons to absorb.

Gordon said the board will discuss financing issues before giving Brailsford & Dunleavy guidance for running the numbers.

An additional report on projected tax revenues for RCC released Monday showed that tax revenue for RCC could increase from $6.3 million annually to as much to between $8.1 million and $8.7 million (depending on population growth) by 2018.

Those figures assume RCC's current tax rate of 47 cents per $1,000 of commercial and residential property value in Small Tax District 5.

One resident who spoke at the public feedback session said RCC is off in its revenue forecast.

"I'm an economist," he said. "Your prediction have the [base] going up, up and up. Does this pass the common sense test? History tells us the opposite. Also, if you put that facility in that open space, the value of nearby homes is going to go down. There will be lighting, traffic and noise and you will be exposing yourself to a lawsuit for taking property without compensation."

Gordon disagreed, pointing out that the 68 acres of land is owned and contributed by the Park Authority and is zoned for active recreation. 

However, she says she realizes many people do not want another RCC facility.

"We take those comments seriously and that will be included in our report," she said.

To see the next opportunities for public feedback, click here. 

To read a white paper from Reston Citizens Association's Dick Rogers on possible drawbacks to the Baron Cameron location and ideas for alternative locations, click here.

More:

RCC Considering New Indoor Facility

RCC Outlines Process for New Facility

Jim Hubbard March 15, 2013 at 01:41 PM
The basic question is one of fairness: how should the costs of recreational services be divided between those who use them and taxpayers in general? The usual answer is that users should pay something, usually something like the 40% charged by the Park Authority. Obviously reasonable people can disagree about this and it is extremely important that the community make the decision. I see no reason why the STD5 tax rate should not be reduced. It has been too high for years. At the same time, it is important that RCC build up financial reserves in order to pay for future repairs and renovations. It's not helpful or accurate to characterize these reserves as "surpluses." Creating financial reserves is one of the few things the Board of Governors has gotten right in the past few decades.
Tammi Petrine March 15, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Jim, I like your sense of fairness. (That's why I will die fighting for Restonians in the DTR toll scheme to pay for 54%+ of the $17 BILLION bill for Phase 2 of the Silver Line Metro. Sheesh, who thought that dog would hunt???) But in the case of RCC, I believe that those of us in STD #5 should be able to use OUR facility for the minimum fee possible. It is our facility. If we have to pay more than minimum, use will be limited by those who can not afford it. In 37 years of living in Reston, we have never set foot on a tennis court nor entered an RA pool, yet we pay for them too. Others do enjoy them and that's important to me. I just hope the fees are kept as low as possible so that people can get some relief from the stresses of this increasingly unfair society even in a community as wonderful as Reston. RE: RCC financial management: I am not privy to specifics but any good plan builds in reserves. They are acknowledged in standard accounting rules as been necessary and required. If we have funding excesses above and beyond reserves that would allow reduction in fees, perhaps that could be studied. I agree with you that “adult” conversation, as you so aptly describe it, is a good thing. Thanks for your considered and polite reasoning. Diversity of thought usually leads to more elegant solutions. “)
kevin March 17, 2013 at 12:44 AM
The consultant paid for by RCC says: "Fifty-meter pools are not that common," he said. "There is a lot of interest in adding 50-meter pools." Why are we in Reston paying for this folly? RCC have just announced the next opportunity to provide input - on March 27th. This is right in the middle of Spring Break for local schools. Either RCC do not know the community very well or they do not want a good turnout for the meeting. When I hear RCC say that they want community input, I hear echoes of "and Brutus is an honorable man".
DeeDee April 27, 2013 at 04:27 AM
So Fairfax County just raised taxes on everyone...http://www.wtop.com/149/3296176/Area-homeowners-to-see-property-tax-increase....and Small District 5 has to pay for even more? and give up green space that brought me here in the first place? So now I have to pay more taxes? possibly pay for a swimming pool that I don't want, deal with bumper to bumper traffic on Wiehle currently and more when the Metro is open. Reston markets itself as "Living in Reston is like living in a park" ... how is that possible when the proposals are to eliminate green open spaces? And as I dig deeper I find that Bill Bouie is on both the RCC and FCPA boards? really? so we are starting out with a biased board from the beginning...its 2013 ...at a minimum Fairfax County Park Authority should remove BL as clearly his vote is biased and predetermined.
Restonresident April 27, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Its and inside job! FCPA, RCC and a very small group with self interests are forcing this idea down our throats

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