Reston Association directed its staff to draft a letter stating it needed more information before taking a position on the proposed town charter for Reston’s incorporation. The letter is in response to a request from State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) and Del. Ken Plum (D-36) who are attempting to gauge support and role of community organizations in the proposal’s development.
"The issue with the charter is, it still needs some input," said Frank Lynch, North Point director on RA Board. Lynch also took exception to the legislators’ request to answer questions on RA’s role, if any, and extent of correspondence with RCA in developing the proposal. "I don’t understand the point of the first two questions," he said. "I’m very frustrated by the entire thing," he said.
The RA directors agreed that the effort to examine the issues of town governance in Reston should not be put to rest. Lynch said he did not want a "I don’t know answer" to the third question, the organization’s position on the proposal, to shut down the effort. "I’m trying to find an answer. Not a ‘no,’ ‘no,’ ‘I don’t know,’ put it in a box and then it disappears," he said.
At-large director Joe Leighton asked why the proposal had to be introduced in General Assembly’s 2008 session. "Why can’t it be introduced in 2009," he asked. RCA President Mike Corrigan said there are no reasons, other than a year’s delay, why the proposal could not wait another year.
Tim McMahon, representing RA apartment dwellers, said he was not educated enough on the charter to take a position on it in a responsible manner. Mark Watts (at-large) also said he was not educated enough to take a position.
"There is not enough information at this point," said Board President Jennifer Blackwell. Lake Anne and Tall Oaks representative Robin Smyers echoed Blackwell’s conclusion that more information is needed, especially on the topic of transferring assets from RA to a town.
"THE WHOLE ISSUE of the assets is causing a lot of confusion and difficulties," said Corrigan. He said that the discussion on possible asset transfers should have probably taken place after a town is created. "You can’t do these asset transfers before," said Corrigan. However, Corrigan stands by his assertions that asset transfers from RA to a town would benefit RA members, but added that those benefits could be communicated better. He also made a distinction that it is not the RCA that is asking Plum and Howell to introduce referendum legislation, but the 3,700 Reston residents who signed the referendum petition.
Corrigan said that the responses from other organizations — Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners (ARCH), Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Reston Community Center for example — reflected RA’s response, that more information was needed. "A lot of these are ‘need more information,’ they are not ‘no’ responses," said Corrigan. He also attacked Fairfax County’s position where the County Executive Anthony Griffin asserted that the county did not play any role in the proposing charter’s development. Corrigan said the county was "heavily involved" since the current proposal is based on a 1980 charter, which the county helped create.
ACCORDING TO CORRIGAN, the basic problem facing the town proposal advocates is that some of the organizations that received the letter from Plum and Howell have not talked to RCA about the proposal. "There is still a tremendous amount of misunderstanding," he said.
Jane Wong, one of the RCA volunteer leaders for the petition signatures on the proposal, spoke in front of the RA board before it discussed the issue at its Thursday night, Dec. 13, meeting. "The RCA draft charter is a work in progress," said Wong. "We’re seeking a voice in how our town is run." She said Reston needed a smaller government, so it could foster a sense of community, which is not possible with the large county government. She claimed Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) voted to approve developments 262 out of 263 times since becoming a supervisor. "Reston is 43 years old and has never had a voice of its own," said Wong.