Opinion: Independent Progressive: Lake Anne Progress Despite Governance

Opinion: Independent Progressive: Lake Anne Progress Despite Governance

Lake Anne is the historic center of Reston, the heart of Robert E. Simon’s nationally renowned planned community and a visually lovely place to live or visit. While it is pretty all year round, spring is my favorite time at Lake Anne.

Washington Plaza, the commercial part of the Lake Anne Village Center was built in 1964-5 and was an active gathering place for the new community initially with only a few hundred residents. As Reston grew and new commercial centers opened, commercial activity slowed and some businesses, including the Safeway grocery, closed. In the 1990s, Lake Anne’s decline was palpable.

With the 1998 opening of the Reston Farmers Market in the commercial parking lot and a bustling coffee house on the Plaza, things improved a bit around the turn of the century. Later, a Limited Liability Company expanded a Plaza crafts market, donating some of its vendor space rental fees to Plaza beautification.

In the last four years, several new businesses opened on the Plaza, including: Lake Anne Brew House, New Trails Cycling, Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar, Teapot and Cupcakes, and Your Loyal Tailor. A promising new “dive bar” restaurant, Local VA, is poised to open this week! And, the Lake dilapidated pier will be totally reconstructed by RA over the next couple of months. While a couple of empty storefronts remain, the Plaza is once again a charming, vibrant place.

Sadly, squabbling among the commercial and residential unit owners who make up the Lake Anne Condominium Association (LARCA) continues. The latest discord exploded three months ago following the election of three new members to the condo’s 5-member Board of Directors. The insurgents won handily, promising to straighten out troubled finances, address sorely needed infrastructure maintenance and repair, restore transparency in management, etc. A tall order!

The new Board elected a new member President. She set out to keep the campaign promises by contracting a forensic audit by a major accounting firm to identify sources of financial management problems, and what is needed to improve financial controls and restore the association’s financial stability.

The entrenched old guard is fighting to overturn the election by ousting the new President and putting a stop to the independent audit. To her credit, the new President, despite a negative whispering campaign, is standing firm. The forensic audit is underway.

Furthermore, based on information “presented to the Virginia AG’s (Attorney General’s) office, and the Fairfax County’s Commonwealth Attorney’s office attention of possible wrongdoings”, the Fairfax County Police are investigating “the possible Fraud case…” in the association. The lead Police detective in the case said in an email to LARCA’s attorney, “I can only recommend that all future votes to remove, change other members [of the Board], enact new laws, etc. etc., be placed on hold until this investigation is complete. I would also urge anybody that has knowledge of this investigation not damage, remove or destroy any paperwork that this office and the Forensic Accounting Firm need to conduct a fair and complete investigation.” That is, do not remove new Board members or in any way impede the work of the forensic audit now underway, or damage, destroy, remove any documents needed for the forensic audit or the police investigation. The lead detective stated that “no one person is currently a Person of Interest, rather currently the entire operation of actions done by LARCA [in] the previous years.” The quotes above come directly from the lead detective’s email of Feb. 12 to the LARCA attorney at the time.