Independent Progressive

Independent Progressive

Draft Plan Jeopardizes Urban Reston

An overflow crowd at the Joint Community Forum last Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Reston Association learned the outlines of the draft Reston Master Plan for the Dulles Rail Corridor. The sobering assessment by community representatives on the Master Plan Task Force which began its work four years ago left the audience with many unanswered questions and concerns about the quality of planned growth for 40,000 more people and 60,000 more jobs in the corridor.

Six themes dominated the assessment and dialogue during the evening:

  1. Sustainability—In Reston, we are guided by covenants for our properties, their appearance and maintenance. We have community associations—Reston Association and the Reston Town Center Association—which provide facilities and maintenance we pay for through assessments. There is no assurance yet that new residents will have the same covenants, rules or provision for facilities and maintenance. They should. If they don’t, we’ll find ourselves balkanized with newcomers lacking facilities and potentially putting major burden on existing ones.

  2. Open Spaces and Recreation—The draft plan is woefully lacking land set aside for open space and recreational facilities for 40,000 new residents and 60,000 more workers. The draft falls dramatically below what Fairfax County’s own “urban” standards require. For example, instead of the minimum required 15 new sports fields, only two are provided. There are shortfalls in every category of open space and rec facilities. Overburdened facilities outside the corridor are jeopardized.

  3. Flexibility—Any long-term plan must allow flexibility for changing circum-stances. RCA, others say the draft goes way too far to the extreme, opening the door for sloppiness and developer mischief. Language needs serious tightening.

  4. Environment—Consistent with Reston’s history & founding principles, future development should meet highest environmental standards for protection/restoration of natural amenities to best environmental practices. Good progress on this.

  5. Mobility—People must be able to move comfortably in an urban setting. Coherent balance of bike, pedestrian and car infrastructure and practices is vital, especially for peak usage times. Road, bicycle, pedestrian and transit upgrades are essential. So are transportation demand management measures. Draft plan falls way short.

  6. Implementation—The plan gets failing marks here. Draft lacks guarantees that infrastructure essential to support major increased level of development will be completed anywhere near concurrently with new construction, or that it will be paid for on a fair, pro rata basis, by those who will profit from the development. Furthermore, there is no specified implementation mechanism to make it happen.

In summary, the draft plan as it stands fails on five of the six critical elements essential to the plan’s success and the future of Reston. Yet, the county is fast-tracking it for final approval before December.

In closing, Reston Citizens Association President Colin Mills reinforced the meeting’s Call to Action for the community. He reminded those present that the new plan will change our community dramatically, shaping it for a generation to come. Change is coming, big time. Reston will take on a decidedly more urban feel. He said the question is whether it will be change for the better or change for the worse. The outcome likely will be decided in the next few weeks. He asked all to stay involved.