Summer Is Gone, but Not Forgotten

While I’m delighted to feel summer’s heat begin to fade, part of me still wonders how summer slipped away so quickly. As I write this, early voting is already underway in 2022 congressional elections — a sure sign that fall indeed is here. More importantly, Reston Farmers Market berries, peaches, melons and even tomatoes have disappeared, being replaced by apples (30 or 40 varieties), pumpkins and squashes, root veggies and, yes, my favorite, broccoli. Proof from the farm that fall has arrived.    

But, when one stops to think about it, it was an eventful summer in Reston. 

Maybe I’m imagining it, but I think there was more energy this summer. People re-engaged, sensing the worst of the pandemic was over. We’ve seen it in crowded restaurants, stores, meetings and gatherings indoors and out, e.g., at Lake Anne’s huge Reggae Festival. Among the many positive events of the summer are the following:

* After a year and a half and 58 meetings, Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s handpicked task force finally delivered a new Reston Comprehensive Plan for comment by the community. This 162-page product of a 25-member group of community volunteers and developers reads like a committee job, a heavy read but including imagination not found in standard comp plans. For example, future development must address health and wellness and equity principles. While the Plan does not include an expected population cap, it is estimated that if all the possible densities in the Plan were achieved Reston would reach a population of 110-120,000 in 30 years or so. The draft plan stresses transit-oriented development, with the greatest density nearest the transit stations. It also stresses livability in those areas, including the provision that each TSA will have at least one full athletic field — none of which currently exist. Take a look at the Reston Comprehensive Plan on Fairfax County’s website and let the Supervisor know what you think.        

* As a result of Supervisor Alcorn’s call for construction of up to 400 new affordable housing units in Town Center North there are now two responsive PPEA (public-private) proposals in play, either of which would achieve Alcorn’s goal. In spite of all Fairfax County’s talk of ending homelessness, no one has produced this many new affordable units in Reston in 50 years or more, so this is a really big deal. One concerning issue with this and most “affordable” housing projects in the county is the definition of affordable. When I think of “affordable” housing I think of housing for the homeless I see on the street, in the woods. Fairfax County funds rarely provide the minimalist units needed to serve these people most in need. Instead, they provide units affordable to families earning 50 or 60% of the Average Median Income (AMI) in the County. The current AMI in this County is about $125,000 … e.g. teachers, other public sector employees, NOT minimum wage earners on the streets. IMHO, the major portion of the Town Center North project should provide housing solutions for the lowest-income segment of the population. If you agree, please let Supervisor Alcorn know.         

* After nearly a year without a CEO, the new Reston Association Board of Directors identified an outstanding candidate in the state of Washington and bested the competition for his services. Mac Cummins and his family have now relocated to Reston, unlike his predecessor who never really moved in. The Association now has a capable and more cohesive Board in place. While there are still a couple of senior leadership slots, including Chief Financial Officer, yet to fill, RA now is more equipped to handle major challenges (such as aging pools and other infrastructure) on the horizon with the new team at the top.                 

So, overall Reston is in better shape at the end of the summer than we were at its beginning. Now if we can just get the Congressional election right.