To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Bob Simon's letter ["Facts About the Rec Center," July 24-30, 2013] regarding the Rec Center planned for Reston by the Reston Community Center (RCC). While I understand Bob thinks that there has been misinformation about the Rec Center, I feel there has not been enough information available about the center, primarily around the finances. The current proposal commits Reston taxpayers to paying the full capital and operating expenses of this $33 million center, while other centers are supported in full by the county. Other communities, like Oakton and Chantilly, have received county land, county funding for the construction and expansion of rec centers, and county support for ongoing expenses. Reston is only receiving the land from the county. Why is this? Secondly, based on its current budget, the center at RCC is running a $1M deficit each year. Reserves are being used to sustain the facility. This is public information, confirmed in a public hearing. If we are running a deficit on our current center each year, then why are we building another? And how will they ensure we don’t run a deficit again? The answer has been that they will look to outside users (private swim clubs and other rentals) to support the facility, and that they envision a state-of-the-art “regional” aquatic center for elite swimmers. If this is a regional facility for outside users, then why is only Reston paying for it? Shouldn’t we be seeking state and county funds and even private funding from swim clubs that will use this center? Why are we footing the whole bill? It would be good to get the answers to these questions. It would clear up a lot of misinformation. Many citizens attended the hearings, and urged the RCC Board to (a) pursue county and other funding so Reston doesn’t assume the full burden and risk, (b) provide more information on the users (whether users are primarily Reston residents or non-Reston residents) and usage (how much time is set aside for public use vs. private use), (c) re-assess the need for this facility now that Lifetime and Crunch (and several other facilities) have opened in Reston and (d) ensure the financial model is fair, equitable and affordable for Reston taxpayers. There are many facts that are still needed. Many of us support the recommendation by the Reston Citizens Association (RCA) to stop and think through this project. There are three candidates running for the RCC Board who have agreed to stop and assess, carefully review the finances, and to represent the best interest of Reston taxpayers. They are: John Mendonça, Sridhar Ganesan and Tammi Petrine. RCC ballots were delivered by mail and are due Oct. 3—every family gets three votes—we urge your support of these candidates.