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The ABC's of Reston

For a community whose name was derived from its founder, Robert E. Simon's initials (RES), it should come as little surprise that Reston, which is neither a city nor a town but actually a PRC (Planned Residential Community), is governed and defined by an alphabet soup of community organizations, fiefdoms, agencies and associations. From the DRB, RIBBS, GRACE and the W&OD to RA, RCA, RCC and GRCC, Reston is a smorgasbord of acronyms and convoluted shorthand. So, in that spirit, here are some of the prevailing issues that any newcomer should know when first calling modern day R-E-S-T-O-N home:

o Reston Association. The Reston Association, or RA, is a non-profit corporation or homeowners association that owns and manages the community's 1,350 acres of open space and recreation facilities. Formed when two similar organizations in Lake Anne and Hunters Woods to create the Reston Homeowners Association in 1968, the RHOA officially became RA in 1987. Homeowners and renters in Reston automatically become members of RA and they pay a yearly assessment and all members must comply with the organization's architectural and maintenance covenants and regulations. A nine-member elected board of directors meets to set policies, budgets and assessment rates. The board traditionally meets the last Thursday of each month at its administrative offices in Isaac Newton Square. To reach RA, visit www.reston.org or call 703-435-6530.

o Entertainment opportunities. From free summer concerts at the Reston Town Center's outdoor pavilion to plays at the Reston Community Center's (RCC) theater to the Reston Festival and the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, Reston residents can avail themselves to a host of different events throughout the year.

o Squabble. In 2002, the Reston Community Center (RCC), which is funded through taxes paid by residents and businesses in Small Tax District #5, announced its intention to construct a skatepark behind the Reston YMCA, much to the chagrin of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce (GRCC), among others. In 2003, the partnership between the chamber and the RCC boiled over into a series of "he said, she said" confrontations over the skate park, RCC budget, governance issues, the special tax district and the RCC board representation. A panel tasked to study the governance issues surrounding the RCC recently recommended some changes that would bring more business voices into the process. The changes, which still have to be accepted by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, did not satisfy the chamber's business representatives. Meanwhile in 2003, due to budget shortfalls, the RCC has shelved its plans for skatepark.

o Transportation issues. Despite choking traffic around the metropolitan-Washington area, in 2002, Fairfax County voters soundly rejected a proposed half-cent sales tax that would have helped bring rail to Dulles. Ever since, local leaders have tried to develop a cohesive plan, that may or may not include bus rapid transit (BRT) systems or increased tolls, to keep the dream alive.

o Outdoor recreation. With RA's four man-made lakes, 15 swimming pools, 49 tennis courts, 58 sports fields, nearly 50 miles of paved paths and trails, the Walker Nature Education Center and Lake Fairfax Park, not to mention the famed Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) rail-trail which dissects Reston as it runs from Arlington to Purcellville, Reston is known for its access to outdoor amenities

o NIMBYs. Not exclusive to Reston, the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) phenomenon has rapidly become one of Reston residents most frequently used acronyms. When the RCC wanted to put the aforementioned skatepark behind the affluent West Market community, West Market residents rallied against the plan while skatepark proponents — including Reston founder Robert Simon — charge the neighbors are nothing more than NIMBYs. Neighbors' complaints about RA's plan to renew a contract that would allow a bubble over the Ridge Heights swimming pool and construction of covered tennis structure at the Lake Newport Tennis Facility have elicited similar reactions. Lake Newport neighbors are also fighting a developer's plans to turn an empty visitor's center into a two-story restaurant. Decisions on both Lake Newport projects are expected to be announced later this year. The indoor tennis proposal may go to referendum in late 2003.