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Town Status Knocks on RA’s Door

RCA seeks community support for town status referendum.

The Reston Citizens Association (RCA) received mixed messages Monday as it sought support from the Reston Association (RA) for its effort to make Reston a town.

At an RA Board Administration Committee meeting, the RCA re-presented its case for township, requesting that RA form a committee to review the merits of town status. RA deferred the request until September when RCA is expected to have completed its most recent financial analysis and town charter proposal, but did agree to begin working with staff to examine the issue of incorporation.

“RA owes it to the community to look at the issue,” said RA President Jennifer Blackwell. “I recommend we discuss with staff the best way to research the issue.”

BUT OTHER RA board members at the meeting were more cautious.

RA Director Kathleen Driscoll McKee (South Lakes), a former staffer for Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), called Corrigan’s presentation “interesting cocktail conversation,” but nothing to compel further investigation.

“As curious as I am about this, I’m not compelled,” she said, adding that too many questions about exact boundaries and precise financials have yet to be answered.

Barbara Aaron, RA director of the Hunters Woods district, worried about costs to Reston Association if staff spent time researching the issue. She advised the board wait to direct staff to look into it after RCA completed its analysis.

Robin Smyers, RA director of the Lake Anne district, felt other organizations would have a hard time swallowing the idea of Reston becoming a town and wondered how RCA would handle opposition. “What about Reston Town Center Association?” she said. “What if they decide they don’t want to be included?”

“You don’t need [complete agreement with every group] to get to the point of a referendum,” said Corrigan.

DESPITE DISPARATE comments from RA board members, Corrigan and other RCA board members were encouraged by the outcome. “I’d say the result is about what I expected,” said Corrigan after the meeting. “I would have preferred a faster track, but this is consistent with the way RA typically handles things, which is completely understandable. I’m happy and elated that they’re taking a serious look at the issue.”

Part of RCA’s recent strategy to demonstrate support from community organizations stems from a letter the group received last year from state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) and Del. Ken Plum (D-36), who both represent Reston. The letter outlined conditions the two representatives required before they would consider bringing the referendum before the General Assembly.

The letter included a condition that RCA demonstrate support for incorporation from major community organizations, such as RA, the Reston Community Center and the Reston Town Center Association.

McKee said that a petition signed by 10 percent of Reston’s population could also make a compelling case for township.

“If I heard that straight out of a [state] elected official’s mouth, we would give very serious thought to pursuing that strategy,” said Corrigan.

In a petition drive last year, RCA dedicated a several months obtaining 622 signatures in support of conducting a referendum on town status. The signatures represent about 1 percent of Reston’s total population, roughly 62,000 people.