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.
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