The Special Committee on Parks and Recreation is the product of a report, a $43,000 report.
In June, the Reston Association established the committee after PROS Consulting LLC, an independent research consulting firm hired by RA, released a report on the status of recreation needs in Reston.
The report was immediately controversial because it recommended, among other things, that two underutilized pools be closed to save operating costs, which amount to about $57,000 a year.
The special committee was charged by RA to assess the recommendations of the PROS report and map out long-term recreation recommendations to be submitted to the RA board.
LAST MONDAY, Oct. 17, at its second meeting, the special committee heard another report. This time, on behalf of the Save Tall Oaks Pool, an ad hoc group, Deborah Shprentz pointed out flaws in the PROS report.
Outlining some of the deficiencies, Shprentz pointed out that of the 3,000 people in Reston surveyed about recreation, only three respondents mentioned closing pools. "That’s 0.1 percent of the respondents who suggested reducing the number of pools," said Shprentz. "So I ask, whose agenda is this that we’re pursing?"
She said that there were several cases when the analysts from PROS misinterpreted the results from the public opinion survey. She said, for example, pools were the second most popular amenity provided by RA, but the PROS report targeted them anyway. The report, she said, even recommends that trees be cleared to make amenities more visible from the road. "That doesn’t sound like Reston at all," said Shprentz.
Also, Shprentz said, the report does not include in its analysis other uses of pools. She pointed out that Tall Oaks has the second largest number of pool rentals.
One of the most common complaints of the report, which Shprentz echoed, is the use of recreational standards. Shprentz said that the report uses a national standard to falsely conclude that Reston has too many pools. "Reston can have as many pools as it wants," she said.
PROS also recommends that pools be closed based on utilization. Shprentz pointed out that the statistic PROS used to analyze utilization was safety limits set by Fairfax County. For Tall Oaks to reach full capacity, it would need 143 people. But Shprentz said that full capacity at Tall Oaks would actually be extremely overcrowded and unpleasant. Safety limits "is not the right metric to measure pool capacity," said Shprentz.
RATHER THAN ask questions about STOP’s findings after Shprentz’s presentation, the committee decided to hold questions until the broader topic of aquatics was taken up.
Yet for Sally Carroll, a STOP member, the committee seemed to already consider the recommendations from the PROS report as beyond criticism.
"It seems like step one should be to find out if this [report] makes sense," said Carroll when the committee was reviewing a 10-page list of the PROS recommendations. "It seems to me you should look at the report rather than assume that these recommendations are correct."
A few board members seemed irritated by Carroll’s comments, which interrupted the board’s discussion. "It’s not your call," said Kathleen Driscoll McKee, a committee member, adding that Carroll was speaking out of order.