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Where’s the Charrette Report?

After months of delay, RCRC will see a draft charrette report next week.

The local organization leading the charge for Lake Anne revitalization, which has waited six months to receive the charrette report, has decided not to wait any longer.

The Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation board voted unanimously last week to appoint three board members to review the initial charrette report the county finally received last month but sent back because of quality issues.

Since last summer, the RCRC waited patiently to receive a report from hired consultants who ran the Lake Anne revitalization charrette, a three-day workshop the county organized in June to hear from community members.

RCRC, WHO EXPECTED the report in September, found out at its February meeting that the consultants submitted the report to the county. At that meeting, RCRC was told to wait another two weeks, time the Department of Housing and Community Development needed to review the report.

But at the RCRC’s board meeting last week, Thursday, March 9, the same question came up: Where’s the report?

“The report is so badly written and contains so many opinions from the charetteers that we sent it back to be rewritten,” said Robert Fields, director of revitalization projects at HCD.

Now, the report is back with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, the group contracted for $30,000 to run the charrette and produce the report.

Fields said the report was “so poorly done,” payment has been withheld.

Mark Gibb, executive director of NVRC, said he didn’t know anyone was upset about the report. “I’m stunned. This is news to me,” said Gibb.

Gibb said most of the county’s comments about the initial report were “just style questions.” As for content, Gibb said the report accurately reflects the conclusions made by the consultants at the charrette.

“We’re not trying to be revisionist,” said Gibb. “[The report] reflects the response from the community and the recommendations from the [consultant] group.”

EITHER WAY, THE board agreed by resolution last Thursday not to wait out of the loop any longer. Kurt Pronske, president of RCRC, nominated himself, Rick Thompson and Robert E. Simon to meet with county officials next week to review the draft report submitted to the county and find out exactly why the county returned the report for revisions.

At the March meeting, Fields tried to explain why the report was returned to NVRC for revision. “I would personally be embarrassed to release the report to anyone,” said Fields. “It’s not done to the standards of the revitalization office.” If it were released now, Fields said “it would confuse the public.”

The RCRC board was reluctant to ask the county to release a report deemed unprofessional, but members wanted to know what was happening.

Being kept out of the process marginalized the RCRC board, said Howard Green, RCRC treasurer. Thompson, who introduced the resolution, said the credibility of the report would be in question if the revisions requested by the county were not disclosed.

YET SOME ON the board weren’t excited to see the report. Having attended the charrette, Simon said he already knows what the report will say. “Under that report, allowable density is minimalized,” said Simon, who thinks the Lake Anne area requires more density than what was presented by the charrette facilitators.

Simon introduced a motion that would have dismissed the charrette report findings before the RCRC board even received the report. The motion was never voted on.

Despite the board’s opinion of the charrette report, Green said at last month’s meeting that it was RCRC’s responsibility to examine the report. “While the report may be totally unacceptable in the minds of the board, I think we should review it and come to some consensus as to what to do about it.”