Rethinking Reston's Future

Rethinking Reston's Future

RCA takes fresh look at Reston 2000 plan.

Seven years ago, a bipartisan group of almost 150 Reston residents convened to offer recommendations for the community's future, covering nearly every facet of Reston life — including public safety, education, parks and recreation, commerce, transportation and more.

After working on the project for a year, they published the Reston 2000 report in the fall of 1998.

"It was about how we can make this a better community," said John Thillmann, who was appointed by former Hunter Mill District Supervisor Bob Dix to head the Reston 2000 commission.

Many of the report's recommendations were implemented or are on track to be implemented. More residential development at Reston Town Center is underway, as the report recommended. Police are cracking down on the growing gang problem, as was recommended. And the Lake Anne Village Center will be redeveloped and revitalized over the next few years, just as the report urged.

But several key components of the Reston 2000 plan were never fully enacted and have been forgotten over the ensuing years, said Mike Corrigan, president of the Reston Citizens Association.

Now, Corrigan and the rest of the newly-elected members of RCA are blowing the dust off the 1998 report and are evaluating what still needs to be done.

"It seems time to re-kick this thing off," Corrigan said.

AMONG THE RESTON 2000 recommendations that Corrigan said were not or only partially met are proposals to:

* Build a 30,000 sq. ft. cultural center at Reston Town Center because it is intended to be the main residential, commercial and recreational center of the community.

* Increase affordable housing opportunities in Reston.

* Offer expanded services to Reston's immigrant population, particularly in the form of programs at the Reston Community Center.

* Have a comprehensive town-wide Web site that gives residents information about community events and news.

Corrigan acknowledged that the RCC facility at Lake Anne and the renovated Greater Reston Arts Center at Reston Town Center are steps toward cultural centers, but they fall short of being the large, town-wide destinations advocated in the Reston 2000 report.

Furthermore, each major community organization in Reston maintains a Web site, and the non-profit Reston e-Village is also offered, but Corrigan said the Web sites are far from comprehensive and some are rarely updated.

"There's not much happening here," Corrigan said. "I think we can do better."

While it is unclear what role RCA would play in a potential review or update of the Reston 2000 plan, Corrigan said it must stay on course for implementation because it identifies the specific areas in the community that need enhancement.

Both Corrigan and other members of RCA have become proponents of investigating alternatives to Reston's governance structure. On many occasions, Corrigan has said he believes Reston should incorporate as a town.

Being a town, he said, would allow Reston to focus on the areas identified as needing improvement, particularly for human services and transportation.

PRISCILLA AMES, who served as the Reston 2000 task force's vice chairman, said she believes Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) and the county government do a good enough job that Reston does not need to incorporate as a town.

However, she said some of the Reston 2000 recommendations, such as the affordable housing issue, require the attention the report urged.

"Cathy Hudgins is really watching out for us, but we still have needs," Ames said.

Thillmann welcomed RCA and other Reston organizations to update the Reston 2000 report. He said the original intention was for it be updated every five or 10 years.

"I think they ought to scrub it from A to Z," he said. "I think it's a great idea. It's exactly what we wanted to happen."