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Column: Spring has Sprung

It is officially spring — "a time of growth and renewal." Indeed, it seems this year that growth and renewal are upon us almost before we are ready. Normal April Cherry blossoms are already at their peak, and will likely be gone before the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington even begins. So much for my wonderful Groupon discount tickets for a Cherry Blossom Potomac Cruise next week. Now, when we take the cruise with visiting friends from Brazil, we’ll be able to point out to them where the cherry trees once bloomed along the Potomac.

But, we are enjoying the visual renewal all around us in Reston. People are getting in sync with the accelerated pace of the manifestations of early warming. As we walk Mr. Angus (our Scottie) around Lake Anne, people stop us and ask, "when is the Reston Farmers Market going to open?" The implied question seems to be—will it be this Saturday or next? They are disappointed when we reply, "It will open on May 5th." It’s true--even with the early warmth, the strawberries are still about six weeks away.

Some neighbors are beginning to fear an early onset of real summer heat. For many living around Lake Anne, they are particularly sensitive to heat because of their antiquated, many would say failing, chilled water air conditioning system dating back to the construction of Reston’s first settlement. The system’s users, hostages to a corporate monopoly called RELAC (Reston-Lake Anne Air Conditioning), receive varying degrees of cooled air at wildly varying costs. I say "hostages" because Reston’s own covenants bar those served by RELAC from using alternative A/C. When it began, RELAC was a competitive innovation providing cooling without noisy A/C units disturbing lakeside tranquility. Forty-five years later, the cooling for many is ineffective, even unhealthy because of the dampness of the air circulated in homes. In fact, neighbors with health problems are envied—for they can be freed, granted an exception so they can buy real A/C.

Renewal that goes way beyond spring, i.e., major redevelopment, now seems just around the corner for Lake Anne. With the prospect of Metro arriving at nearby Wiehle Avenue next year, there is suddenly lively developers’ (30+) response to Fairfax County’s recent Request for Proposals to redevelop the affordable Crescent Apartments and, in fact, all of the properties along the arc of North Shore Drive extending from the Heron House apartment tower (next to my house) to the Lake Anne Fellowship House and all the way to the former Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, now Buddhist Temple site. There is a sudden disturbance in the force (the market). This time it is for real and in sight. More later.