Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Neighborhood Meeting

Last night there was a Reston Association sponsored community meeting at Hunters Woods. The topic was the proposed concept of a new indoor tennis/pool/recreation center to be built in Reston. While RA insists that no decisions have been made, we all know that $92,000 has been spent developing the idea. To Larry Butler's credit, he gave a pretty clear presentation on a) how long the idea has been kicking around b) how RA has tried to provide the requested service in the past and c) why the Browns Chapel site seems to be the best fit. I came away with a couple of impressions. You can agree or disagree with me, but I ask that you do so politely.

  • First, there was a good reason why public meetings opened in prayer in the old days. To plunge right in without asking divine providence for guidance almost guarantees that a controversial idea will produce contentious meetings and ugly behavior. Too bad people are so afraid of Truth.
  • Second, most of the people who had a lot to say about this (masquerading as questions) are part of the over 60 crowd. Many of them have been in Reston since the 1960's. They've enjoyed the benefit of all of the amenities that they would now deny the younger folks. Our standards for recreation have changed over time, and to refuse to even listen to other people shows that one has become an embittered oldster rather than a helpful member of the community.
  • Third, our community can't afford this idea. As a parent, it is very difficult in this country to teach my children that you don't purchase what you can't afford. To encumber our property with even more taxes to pay for something that we may or may not need as a community means that at some point, we will probably have to move away from Reston because we will no longer be able to afford the taxes. Fairfax County and RA are pricing young families right out of the area. I guess the upside is tht when we can't afford to live here any longer, you can turn the elementary schools into your indoor centers for the aged.
  • Fourth, There is far from a consensus about the need for this center. Sure, the swimmers and tennis players say we need indoor facilities and, by the way, USTA and US Swimming agree. But many people do not agree. I can't wait to see the survey results in the fall.
  • Fifth, one semi-great suggestion came up in regards to the rezoning of the area that parallels the toll road. It was that the additional parking deck could be multi-tasked to provide the requested indoor facilities and parking for them. GREAT idea, which Larry Butler said was one of those things worth talking about. Here's an even better enhancement -- how about ASKING developers to make it worth their while to do so. Let market forces dictate whether this is the right time and place for this kind of facility.
  • Finally, re: that same notion -- if you build a huge facility at Brown's Chapel to accomodate USTA and US Swimming's desires for a venue for their events, you're asking all that traffic to go up Wiehle Ave or Reston Parkway to get there. If people can just hop off the toll road and park, it's a much better idea.
I confess I went to the meeting with an attitude of NO! But before I went I prayed that I would at least listen to opposing viewpoints and see whatever merit is in them. I think I'm more informed now, and more balanced in my reasons for saying NO. I love tennis and swimming and I'm a member of the Y. But I love fiscal responsibility and parental responsibility more, and my vote is still NO.

Talk to me!

1 comment:

Dr.John said...

On the side of the old crabs. When you come to a meeting and you know they have already greased the slide for what they want you are upset in advance. When you have been forced to accept unneeded things all of your life and pay for them with property tax yoiu come to the meeting pre upset.
It is better they crab at the meeting. That is the wonder of democracy . You get to hear not just words but feelings.