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Parks, Recreation, and Culture Subcommittee

Implementation Recommendations

The Parks, Recreation, and Culture Subcommittee was formed to look at the leisure activities of those who reside, work, and play in the Reston community. This committee researched a wide range of activities that are provided by the private and public sectors. In addition to researching these activities, the committee also worked with other Subcommittees whose work and efforts directly effected the future of leisure activities in the Reston community.

Our challenges included: speaking to the needs of an aging and diverse community; issues with land use and transportation; the role of business in support of our PRC programs; the programming needs of the entire Northern Virginia community; the future role of private organizations like the YMCA ; youth and adult sports organizations; the creation of permanent funding sources in support of PRC efforts; and the future role of Reston Association and the role that they will play.

Committee Members

Bill Bouie, Chairman; Jim Modrick, Vice Chairman; Skye Eddy; Bruce Wright; Bill Thomson; Bob Simon; Ruth Overton; Mike Miller; John Stroik; and Kathy McInerny.

Special thanks also goes to the staffs of Reston Association, Fairfax County Parks and Recreation, Fairfax County Park Authority, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, GRACE, Reston Community Center, The Reston Arts Alliance, and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.

Goals As defined in the November 1998 Reston 2000 Task Force report, the goals adopted for parks, recreation, and culture are:

  • To enhance and renew existing parks and recreation facilities and to plan for new facilities to ensure access and a range of programming that will enrich the leisure time of Reston's aging and diverse residents.
  • To implement a means of participation and support by the entire Reston community in the growth and development of Reston's parks, recreational, and cultural community. This initiative would ensure innovative ways of investing in the definition of Reston as a place to live, work, and play.
  • To strengthen an alliance of cultural organizations to facilitate development opportunities; increase federal, state, and county funding of local arts; and nurture growth of the cultural community. Primary to this is a comprehensive assessment of cultural facilities, audiences, and opportunities for development in Reston. This facilitation will serve to accommodate the needs of all in Northern Virginia with Reston becoming a major cultural contributor in terms of resources and facilities.
Accomplishments of the PRC Task Force

Since the publication of the Reston 2000 Final Report, the PRC has continued its efforts to provide support for PRC programs and to facilitate meetings with a number of organizations to meet the goals and objectives that were outlined in the report. Among those efforts were:

  1. To work with various recreational organizations in the final design and approval of the new Stratton Woods park. The Park Authority approved the design of the park in September 1999. Groundbreaking for the park will take place in the Spring of 2000, with the park coming online in late 2001.
  2. To work with the Transportation to communicate the needs of the Pedestrian community with regard to expansion of bike and walking trails. This has been especially important in the expansion of the many large businesses in Reston and the requirements to expand the Reston amenity package.
  3. Conducted meetings on the feasibility of forming a Parks and Recreation Department within Reston to be the Central Scheduler and Coordinator for all activities. This is currently done by a number of organizations, with the County performing some of these functions, various organizations performing other functions. The Reston Community Center has taken the lead in the implementation of a central organization for the registration of various recreational activities.
  4. Work with the YMCA on the finalization of programs to be offered upon opening as it relates to Cultural and Recreational programs. These programs will come on line in the Fall of 2000 with the opening of the facility.
  5. Work with the Fairfax County School Board to transfer to the Park Authority 50 acres that were planned for an Administrative Building at Baron Cameron Park. That land was transferred to the Park Authority and will continue to be used and developed for active recreational activities.
Implementation recommendations for these goals and the programs recommended in the November 1998 report are presented below under each of the three areas:

Parks

The Reston Association is responsible for preservation and enhancement of Reston's major open spaces, including the Vernon Walker Nature Center and most of the stream valleys. Fairfax County and other major Reston organizations should actively support RA's efforts to substantially reduce stream erosion and lake siltation, and to repair the damage that has been done by neglect of these issues in the past. Private funding should be solicited through REEF. An objective should be adopted of completing all catch-up repairs by 2015.

The entire community should be encouraged to participate in a program to enhance privately owned open spaces in residential, commercial, and community use areas. The proposed plan for the development of the Town Green should be implemented by the Fairfax County Park Authority to provide a model for how the community can accomplish this. The plan includes a greenhouse, model townhouse gardens, a library, and model gardens in woodlands. This is in line with the charter and goals of the Park Authority.

Reston Gateways: As a result of discussions that have occurred over the last two years within Reston 2000 and elsewhere, the Reston Association has begun to develop plans for landscaping of the principal gateways to Reston and to Town Center and the medians of all major roads with medians.

The RA Board should take the lead in setting up a task force composed of representatives of the County, VDOT, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and the Reston Citizens Association to achieve this purpose. This task force should define the roles of all participants and seek their commitments to specific responsibilities. A key element of these commitments should be raising funds from major property owners along all arteries to support the program through plantings of trees and other landscaping, in accordance with an adopted plan, and permanent landscape-maintenance efforts.

RA should also take the lead, working with the other organizations, to expand the original concept for gateways to include more comprehensive design elements, such as (1) pathways, particularly those linking rail stations and high density areas of Town Center and the Dulles corridor, (2) extending the high quality street lighting that has been built in Town Center, North Hills, and Reston Parkway to all other gateways, and (3) urban design guidelines to guide future site planning at major gateways, such as through the use of the Sasaki plan developed for Town Center.

To help facilitate high quality maintenance of Reston's highway rights of way, the Reston Association should join with other major Reston organizations and the County to lobby for changes in VDOT's policies and regulations so that VDOT will contract with RA, under a single agreement covering all of Reston, for continuing maintenance and enhancement of all public rights of way.

Historic Park on Old Reston Avenue: There is an excellent opportunity to enhance cultural attractions in the Town Center area by creating an historic park centered on Old Reston Avenue and the W & OD Trail. The historic park might encompass or tie in with all of the following:

  • The original Sunset Hills rail station.
  • The old A. Smith Bowman House, now part of Prison Fellowship.
  • The Bowman Distillery's old bonded warehouse, which was once the Wiehle town hall and a church.
  • The old gazebo and pond on the Prison Fellowship property.
  • The reconstructed old pond on the Sallie Mae property, with its park-like environment, and the fine old stand of trees on the south side of the W & OD Trail.
  • Reston Town Center gateways from the W & OD Trail.
The historic park could contain a museum telling the story of the building of the W & OD Railroad, its importance during the Civil War, the building of the old town of Wiehle which foreshadowed the planning of Reston, the planning of the New Town by Robert E. Simon, the planning of Town Center, and not least, the constructive role Reston's citizens and businesses have played in the development of Reston.

The historic park, if further analysis shows such a project is feasible, should be designed as a gateway for paths into Town Center and all areas of Reston, with appropriate maps at key locations, and should be designed as a major bicycle and pedestrian focal point.

Initial funding for the historic park might be derived in part by a contribution from Sallie Mae in return from relief of payment of future taxes on several acres of land that might be incorporated into the park in the form of easements or actual land transfer. Sallie Mae could be guaranteed protections of its interests and guaranteed permanent access to the land under such an agreement.

Reston 2000 endorses exploration of the feasibility of developing the concept of an historic park in this area and recommends that all interested parties and landowners be invited to participate in a feasibility analysis. The Fairfax County Park Authority is the logical agency to take the lead in this effort.

Recreation

Completion of the Pathway System

As a result of efforts begun with the encouragement of the Reston 2000 effort, the Reston on Foot prioritized plan for completing the pathway system and improving the protection of pedestrians and cyclists at street crossings has been updated in draft form. The draft plan proposes priorities and responsibilities for completing over 12 miles of missing gaps in the pathway system, over ISO new or improved crosswalks at more than 90 intersections, and more than 50 new pedestrian signals at the busiest crosswalks.

The Reston Association, with the help of the many members of various organizations, who participated in putting together this updated plan, should take the lead in getting the support of all major Reston organizations for early implementation of the plan. Funding for implementation is recommended to come principally from Fairfax County, VDOT, developers, major property owners, and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

Ball Fields

The Reston Association should join with the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) and sports organizations in the Reston area to develop common standards for improved maintenance and enhancement of all Reston area ball fields. They should also work together to search for opportunities to create new ball fields wherever feasible and to better balance the changing needs of the various users of the ball fields. Opportunities for acceptable night lighting of ball fields should be expanded in order to extend the use of existing ball fields for children, teens, and adults participants. It is common knowledge that Reston is built out and there are no other areas for development of new fields outside of Lake Fairfax and Baron Cameron parks.

There should be a common Adopt-A-Field program for the various sports and recreation programs that will partner organizations with the County, Reston Association, and the Park Authority to provide for field upgrades, enhancements, expansion, multi-uses, and lighting.

Final buildouts of the Master Plans for Fox Mill District Park, Lake Fairfax, and Browns Chapel need to be accomplished to accommodate the needs of the growing and diverse community.

Other Recreation Facilities and Programs

The Reston Association should continue to take the lead in assessing the changing needs and desires for recreation facilities and programs, working with the Park Authority, user groups, and the school system. An effort should continually be made to give fair and balanced attention to all types of uses and facilities, including:

  • Garden plots and opportunities to participate in educational programs at the Town Green, Community Center(s), and other Community Sponsored organizations;
  • Updating of swimming pools and related amenities in pool areas;
  • New types of facilities being considered, such as a skateboard park and a dog park or dog run areas;
  • Programs that may involve sports organizations and volunteers in fostering new sports in the schools, such as tennis, lacrosse, and volleyball;
  • Programs involving the business community, their employees, and potentially, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and the Reston Community Center, which is seeking to reach out more to serve their growing needs;
  • Upgrade and maintain trails, provide more accessibility, and expand pedestrian usage;
  • Expand the trail system to accommodate all new commercial development;
  • Support, as a community, the fulfillment of the fully developed Master Plan for Stratton Woods, Lake Fairfax, and Fox Mill District Parks;
  • Retain the natural areas of Reston that have green buffers (ie. Glade Road);
  • Build and expand indoor recreational facilities in Reston;
  • Advise Reston Association to expand recreational programming, under their jurisdiction, beyond tennis and swimming. The diverse nature of our community demands more diversity of
Other Recommendations

The PRC Committee also recommends a means of participation and support by the entire Reston community in the growth and development of Reston's parks, recreational and cultural community. This initiative would ensure innovative way of investing in the definition of Reston as a place to live, work, and play.

  • Encourage Hunter Mill Supervisor to appoint a facilitator with close ties to the business community;
  • Establish a group comprised of Reston business interests, the Chamber of Commerce, non-Reston employees, the Reston Association, and RCC to explore with the facilitator what facilities and the community could offer services to businesses and their employees. Develop a survey instrument and focus groups to explore these programs and further define them;
  • Develop a dialog with business interests establishing the value of these services and a fair means of administering them. Identify, develop, and create a tax-exempt organization to facilitate funding of ongoing and new recreational programs.
Coordination and Planning of Cultural Programs

With the expansion of the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne and the great success of several of Reston's cultural programs and organizations, there is a growing awareness that Reston has the potential for becoming a major cultural center. Unfortunately, there is no clearly recognized organization to play the lead role for all cultural programs in the Reston area, but fortunately there are several strong organizations and many strong leaders of cultural programs in the community.

To provide an opportunity for significant advances in cultural programs, the Reston Community Center should play host to one or more events, bringing together representatives of all Reston area cultural organizations, and perhaps some invited outside persons with notable successes in organizing major cultural programs. Such an event, or series of events, might begin with a fairly open ended agenda, since no clear agenda developed from the initial Reston 2000 effort. The one exception to this is the proposal for the planning of a major cultural center in Reston Town Center.

Major Cultural Center in Reston Town Center

The Reston community, with its major cultural organizations in the lead, should take a close look at the desirability and feasibility of development of a multi-purpose cultural center in or near the Town Center, possibly as a joint public-private undertaking.

In addition to drawing travelers, shoppers, and diners, Town Center has become a magnet for some highly successful entertainment and cultural events. The Pavilion facing Fountain Square is the venue for well-attended seasonal concerts. For one weekend each spring, tens of thousands of people from throughout the metropolitan area crowd Market Street for the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, sponsored by Greater Reston Arts Center. Other Reston organizations, notably the Reston Players, the Reston Chorale, and the Reston League of Artists have had increasingly successful programs. Reston is also becoming increasingly recognized as the lead community in Fairfax County for its art in schools programs.

The success of these events and programs and the establishment of Town Center as a powerful new destination center are causing many community leaders to ask whether circumstances are favorable for the development of a multi-purpose cultural center somewhere in the urban core, perhaps in, under, or adjacent to the new park that is planned for the fourth block of Market Street. A cultural center containing up to about 30,000 square feet would be financially feasible, some leaders say, if the project were a joint public-private undertaking incorporating existing and new elements. The possibility of building a national theater operated by the Wolftrap Foundation is one idea that has been discussed for such a location.

The Committee recommends that the community, with its major organizations in the lead, take a close look at development of a multi-purpose cultural center - whether such a facility is desirable and, if so, how it would be financed. Fairfax County should also be involved in such an assessment. A first step in implementing this planning effort might logically be a meeting of interested persons and groups, hosted by the RCC, perhaps as an initial event of a series of events as recommended in above.

Community Cultural Activities

The RCC should continue to take the lead in coordinating with other Reston area organizations, including the business community, and work with them to consider new and improved cultural programs. The "needs" survey being conducted by RCC will provide an opportunity to help do this. Programs and activities that should be continued, expanded, or considered include:

  • The visual arts (rapidly growing interest);
  • Music (growing interest);
  • Theater (has not grown significantly, but there may well be a growing market);
  • Art movies (limited opportunities offered currently; a much larger market may exist);
  • Outdoor sculpture (there is a growing interest in art in public places nationally, and increasing opportunities are being created now and in the near future in Reston);
  • Festivals (great interest has been demonstrated recently; opportunities for ethnic festivals are increasing rapidly)
Cultural and Arts Recommendations

The PRC strongly recommends the formation of an alliance of arts organizations to facilitate development opportunities; increase federal, state, and county funding of local arts; and nurture growth of the cultural community. Primary to this initiative is the completion of a comprehensive assessment of cultural facilities, audiences, and opportunities for development in Reston.

  • Conduct a local cultural assessment to establish as baseline of market data regarding programming, facilities, and attitudes regarding Reston's cultural community. This assessment would:
    1. Identify and catalogue Reston's cultural community, each organization's programming, performance/exhibition facilities, audiences, and funding stream (earned income verses contributed revenue and level of governmental support);
    2. Survey other sources of arts participation including church, civic, and school organizations;
    3. Survey attitudes of religious, civic, governmental, and business communities, as well as a public sampling, regarding awareness and involvement with local and regional cultural amenities.
  • Use the results of the cultural assessment to establish priorities to advance the arts and culture in Reston, and study the feasibility of a cultural advancement and stabilization fund to support Reston's cultural organizations;
  • Plan comprehensively for cultural facilities development, including the feasibility of a regional cultural facility in Reston Town Center as identified in the town center concept for Phase III or Phase IV of development;
  • Organize the alliance as an officially designated local arts agency to coordinate cultural planning and advocate as the cultural voice of Reston before governmental bodies, agencies, and commissions. The local arts agency would provide:
    1. An organizational president's roundtable to promote interaction and communication within the cultural community;
    2. A business and the arts committee to facilitate interaction of the cultural and business community;
    3. An arts-in-education committee including representatives from the Fairfax County Public Schools;
    4. Efforts to marketing the cultural organizations collectively to increase audience support, citizen involvement, and attention to multi-ethnic programming;
    5. A contracted executive director to coordinate activities, serve as spokesperson, and provide managerial and program development support to volunteer-run organizations.
  • Support ad-hoc efforts to develop the arts and humanities in Reston.
Conclusions

Fulfillment of the Reston Concept is a work in progress, rather than a goal to be accomplished. This is a processes that began 35 years ago, continues today, and needs ongoing attention as the Reston 2000 Task Force looks ahead to 2020. The conditions influencing this process will continue to change. For this reason, the PRC subcommittee has focused on mechanisms to ensure attention to leisure time pursuits of those living, working, and recreating in and around Reston.

To begin addressing our goals and objectives, the PRC subcommittee has proposed bringing together a partnership called together by the office of the Hunter Mill Supervisor involving the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, Reston Association, Reston Community Center, and other entities involved in recreational activity in Reston at the Supervisor's discretion. This group would begin the exploration of parks and recreation programs and amenities.

We also propose greater attention to the arts and culture in Reston, through the Reston Arts Alliance or the Reston Community Center, to assess local cultural activities and lead the planning for future development of programs and facilities. Either of these organizations would need additional resources, such as funding and staff time, to implement the preceding objectives.


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