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Lake Anne Revitalization Project Changes

RCRC and county staff re-define parking garage after hearing opposition.

When it comes to information about Lake Anne revitalization, news travels fast.

Last week, the topic of the moment was the prospect of a $20 million park-and-ride transportation facility with 1,000 parking spaces at the Lake Anne Village Center to be funded by a revitalization bond referendum next year. While residents of the area may still be talking about the facility, the proposed project has already been changed.

ANNOUNCED AT a Lake Anne Residential Condominium Association meeting last week, the proposed park-and-ride facility was greeted with less than enthusiastic support.

"Most of the people I know were basically stunned," said John Piper, who attended the meeting.

In the past few months, the Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation, made up of village center property owners and representatives, has been working with staff from the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development to develop potential projects for a revitalization bond referendum to be held in November of 2006.

At the condo meeting, it was announced that the RCRC agreed in September to three projects to go after, one of which was the park-and-ride facility.

HOWEVER, WITHIN THE last few days after hearing opposition to the idea from the community, county staff changed the language for the parking facility.

Harry Swanson, deputy director for revitalization and real estate with Housing and Community Development, said that the park and ride language has already been dropped and a new draft will be discussed at the next RCRC meeting on Nov. 10.

The new concept, according to Swanson, still allots for a 1,000-car parking garage, but rather than be a transportation hub, the garage is meant to create parking for people visiting merchants and services at the village center. "It will create more opportunity to create a walkable community," said Swanson, adding that the facility would also be "an incentive for mixed use development."

Swanson emphasized that the projects under consideration for the bond referendum are still a work in progress being worked out by the RCRC. "If people don’t like [the new draft] then we’ll change it again," said Swanson. "We’re not trying to put something down that they don’t want."

WHILE PARKING has been a reoccurring topic during revitalization talks, it’s no wonder that a transportation hub, like a park and ride, would generate resistance. During the three-day charrette held over the summer, none of the 200 participants suggested that the area make room for a park and ride facility or that the center be made into a transportation hub.

"At no time did people say they were looking for a thousand-car garage for a park and ride," said Piper.

Rick Thompson, who has been an observer at most RCRC meetings, said that proposed park and ride facility was a "miscommunication."

"There was definitely a reaction [from the community] to the terminology used," said Thompson. "We had a quick response from Harry Swanson and the RCRC."

The RCRC, a nonprofit created in 1997, has facilitated Fairfax County’s effort to help give an economic boost to the Lake Anne Village Center, designated a revitalization area in 1998.

Being a non-profit group, RCRC has been the vehicle for requesting grants toward Lake Anne revitalization.