2004: Reston Turns 40, Keeps Growing

2004: Reston Turns 40, Keeps Growing

Statues Stolen, Recovered

During the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, held last May at Reston Town Center, a Herndon man allegedly walked off with an ultra-realistic, $38,000 statue of a bikini-clad woman.

Police scrambled squad cars and their helicopter to catch the thief, but initially failed to locate the man witnesses said was brazenly carrying the life-like "Legs Folded" sculpture through the crowds.

Two months later, Herndon Police officers found the statue in the apartment of Michael Star, 45, who was suspected of stealing a litany of items from his neighbors, including a vacuum cleaner, power tools, camping equipment and golf clubs.

Star was charged with grand larceny, but prosecutors eventually dropped the charge because the Wisconsin artist who owned and created "Legs Folded" did not want to travel back to Virginia for the trial.

A second statue theft grabbed Reston's attention again in late October, when unknown pranksters removed the bronze Bob Simon statue from its seat at Lake Anne Plaza.

The Simon statue was located the next morning, sitting partially-submerged in Lake Anne. Though the Simon statue was slightly damaged, Simon himself was amused.

"It took a certain amount of strength and ingenuity," he said, the morning it was found. "What fun!"

Reston At 40 Years

Toward the end of 1964, families began moving into Reston, a planned community based on ideals such as tolerance, environmentalism and neighborliness.

This year, 40 years later, the four decades of Reston were celebrated in a slew of events to honor its founder and history.

In April, residents held the first Founder's Day at Lake Anne Village Center. Celebrating both Reston and founder Robert E. Simon's 90th birthday, Restonians, dignitaries and others gathered for a party and the unveiling of a bronze statue of Simon.

Several other events were also held throughout the rest of the year to honor Reston's birthday.

Also in conjunction with the community's 40th anniversary, organizers sold Reston Root Beer and established a Web site, www.restoncelebrates.org, which will continue to be maintained as a community calendar.

Teens Convicted Of Counterfeiting

A group of five South Lakes High School graduates were all convicted last spring for counterfeiting $4,000 in fake $20 bills to purchase drugs at a West Virginia concert.

The teenagers conspired to print the counterfeit currency during their senior year of high school the previous year. After their attempts to buy drugs failed, they circulated the bills among fellow students at the school.

The bills were used at Reston fast food restaurants and 7-Eleven stores, eventually leading to a federal investigation and their arrest.

All five teenagers pleaded guilty to the counterfeiting charges in federal or Fairfax County court.

Two of the counterfeiters received jail time, with David Alexander Post sentenced to four months imprisonment and with William Chandler Greene sentenced to a year. The other three, John Adam Blake, Doug McLaughlin-Williams and Joseph Lawrence Bleich received either probation or a suspended sentence.

"What I did was wrong," said Post as he was sentenced in the federal courthouse in Alexandria. "I was a young, immature high school student when I did this. It was the biggest mistake of my life."

According to list compiled from a U.S. Secret Service database, the counterfeit bills the SLHS grads produced were used at least 60 times across the United States.

Work Begins To Fix Streams

A 10-year effort to restore all of Reston's streams got underway over the summer, leaving officials hopeful the project will reduce the amount of pollution flowing into Reston's lakes and the Difficult Run Watershed.

Under the $7 million plan, announced in January, Fairfax County developers will fund most of the stream restoration work needed to be done in Reston.

The federal Clean Water Act requires developers to fix a stream whenever they damage or divert a stream during a construction project. Thanks to the deal negotiated by Reston resident Chuck Veatch and environmental consulting firm, Northern Virginia Stream Restoration, developers will mitigate their projects in Reston.

That means Reston's streams will be fixed at little cost to Reston residents.

"This is an out-of-the-box thinking partnership that became a win-win for everyone involved," Veatch said in August, as work began on restoring the Snakeden Branch stream, considered the most damaged in Reston.

Reston Association officials credit the deal with saving Reston's waterways, which have suffered from increased development in the past few years. Increased run-off from the development has increased the water flow and enabled trash, silt and chemicals to enter Reston's lakes.

Local Economy Booming

After a slowdown following the dot-com crash, Reston's economy started to pick up significantly this year.

Thanks largely to billions of dollars in federal contracts, defense and homeland security contractors have grown significantly in Reston.

Though final numbers have not yet been compiled, more than $42.2 billion of federal contract money came to the region last year — a $6.1 billion increase over the previous year. Analysts expect that dollar amount will have grown exponentially for fiscal year 2004.

As the federal dollars continue to flow into Northern Virginia generally and to Reston specifically, economic indicators suggest Reston is booming and several major corporations relocated their international headquarters or regional offices to Reston.

In September, defense and intelligence contractor Titan Corporation moved into a 16-story office building at Reston Town Center. Last month, AgustaWestland, one of the world’s leading helicopter manufacturers, announced it was moving into a 30,000-square-foot office complex at Plaza America.

With military operations and rebuilding efforts being conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan, the federal government is increasingly relying on contractors for logistical, military and intelligence solutions. At least 14 multi-million contractors have moved to Reston.

Marine from Reston Killed in Iraq

Tavon Lee Hubbard, who joined the U.S. Marines after he graduated from South Lakes High School in 1998, was killed in August when his helicopter crashed outside Baghdad in Iraq.

Lance Corporal Hubbard was a postal worker for the Marines and was killed while delivering mail to his fellow troops.

"He was that kid who was always joking," recalled John Ellenberger, Hubbard's former coach on the SLHS football team after Hubbard's death was announced. "He was a real easygoing kid. It's a real shame."

Hubbard, who was assigned to the Command Element 11th Expeditionary Unit and stationed at Camp Pendleton, died alongside Sgt. John R Howard, 26, of Covington, Va.

At a Veterans Day ceremony in South Lakes' auditorium, Del. Ken Plum presented Hubbard's family with a commendation and thanked them for his sacrifice.

"To Tavon's family, we pledge our thanks and respect for his sacrifice in the name of our freedom," Plum said.

Hubbard is one of at least 10 soldiers from Fairfax County and Falls Church to have died in Iraq and Afghanistan military operations. Many more —the exact number is unknown — have been wounded in the fighting. Overall, 1,454 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, while 5,503 have been wounded.

'Mother Fairfax' Dies

Martha Pennino, who represented Reston on Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors from 1968 to 1992, died from Parkinson's disease in September.

Affectionately known as "Mother Fairfax," Pennino was largely responsible for bringing to Reston many of the institutions and services that remain in place today.

During her 24-year tenure on the county board, Pennino helped guide Fairfax County from a bedroom community into the modern, developed society it is today.

Her leadership helped establish the Fairfax County Parkway and the Dulles Airport Access Road and preserve the Occoquan Watershed. She also helped establish the Fairfax County Human Rights Commission and brought Metro rail service and cable television service into the county.

For Reston specifically, she helped bring South Lakes High School, the Wiehle Avenue bridge, Reston Town Center, police and fire stations, and more.

"She was a visionary," said Michael Horwatt, a Reston attorney who was Pennino's longtime friend and advisor. "That vision has really helped shape Fairfax County and certainly Reston."

Pennino lived the last years of her life in Heron House at Lake Anne Village Center. She was 86 years old.

Revitalization Effort Underway

Following concerns that Lake Anne Village Center has infrastructure economic problems, a movement kicked off this year to revitalize and possibly redevelop portions of what is considered Reston's historic heart.

Spearheaded by the Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation, the effort spawned a Fairfax County-funded economic analysis of the district to gauge the needs of the business and residential community.

Though the final report has not yet been released, it is expected to recommend a higher residential density for the area and possibly an "anchor" business, such as a grocery store, to draw more Reston residents to the village center.

Meanwhile, several developers have expressed interest in redeveloping sections of the area and possibly building high-rise condominiums. While specifics remain to be seen, it appears that higher-density housing has support from organizers, developers and business leaders.

Costs Delay Nature House

Reston Association officials had hoped construction would begin last summer to build a Nature House in Reston, but with cost estimates skyrocketing from $750,000 to $1.3 million, the project has been delayed until at least early 2006.

The project to build a Nature House facility on the 72-acre Walker Nature Education Center site off Glade Road is being funded solely through private and corporate donations raised by Friends of Reston.

When completed, it will house offices for RA's nature education staff, classrooms and exhibit space to teach about Reston's wildlife and natural environment.

Earlier this year, Friends of Reston surpassed its original fundraising target but rising construction costs have caused a string of delays.

"There's just been this perfect storm of forces that has caused the rise of construction costs," said Katie Shaw, RA's environmental education manager last month. "We're going to need a lot of extra help."

RA officials encourage any individual or business to contribute to the Nature House project by sending a check payable to "The Friends of Reston" at 1930 Isaac Newton Sq., Reston, VA 20190. The donation should be sent to the attention of Ray Leonhard, RA's chief financial officer.

High-End Condos Take Off

A host of new high-end, high-rise condominium and apartment buildings sprang up around Reston Town Center this year and more are scheduled to open in the near future.

The apartments range in price from $1,500 per month to more than $3,000. Many of the new condominium units are being sold for more than $1 million.

While developers continue to build the expensive residential buildings in North Reston, affordable units throughout the community appear to be dwindling.

Many of the new units are being purchased by retired citizens or young couples, real estate agents said.

Simultaneously, rising residential demand has led to higher prices and higher rents, pricing out working class Restonians. One estimate suggests that as many as 1,300 affordable units have been lost over the last three years.