Until recently, the Reston Association was faced with a question of what to do once its lease on the offices it currently occupies runs out in August 2006. The building at Isaac Newton Square is set to be demolished soon after the lease is up and be replaced by a commercial office complex.
At the end of last year, the RA sent ballots to its members, in a referendum asking permission to build or buy a new 20,000-square-foot headquarters. In order for it to be approved, the referendum required a 10 percent turnout and a simple majority. The RA got more than it needed.
After a strong campaign raising awareness of the referendum among its members, via sandwich boards on the roads and public service announcements on Comcast Cable, the RA received strong support to purchase of a new headquarters. The turnout was slightly more than 30 percent, with 5,130 ballots cast, of which 87 percent of the voters supported the RA in its ambition of acquiring new headquarters. The strong support, said Doug Bushee, the vice president of the RA Board of Directors, indicates a communitywide effort. “It reflects a lot of hard work,” he said, commenting on the team effort by the staff and the directors to get the referendum passed.
Rick Beyer, the president of the Board, thanked members for voting on the referendum, and said it was important to see such a high turnout, as this is an issue affecting the whole Reston community. He added that a 30 percent voter turnout is “really healthy and really encouraging.” Beyer said it was important to use the RA’s fiscal committee, and have it provide recommendations on the possible sites of the future RA headquarters.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS were also excited about the referendum results. Director Robyn Smyers, representing the Lake Anne/Tall Oaks District, said she was excited to see a strong turnout, while Tim McMahon, representative at large, said it was encouraging to have such success in the referendum. Barbara Aaron, director representing Hunters Woods/Dogwood District, urged the board to get to work on finding possible solutions for the new headquarters, because the prices are going up really fast. “The board needs to get the wheels turning,” she said.
RA’s executive vice president, Milton Matthews, said the next step toward acquiring new headquarters is to work with the fiscal committee on possible options. He said the organization is glad the referendum passed and that it passed with a strong margin. Currently, he said, the RA is not considering any particular options for a site of its future headquarters.
Vicky Wingart, at-large representative on the Board, said the RA’s operating budget would cover the entire down payment for the new headquarters, meaning there would be no increase of the assessments for the members of the RA. The organization is projecting it will save more than $600,000 after a decade by buying, instead of renting, its office space.