Reston: Cleaning Up the Tetra Mess?

Reston: Cleaning Up the Tetra Mess?

The Lake House, in a photo from last winter, was purchased in July 2015 for $2.6 million, and has been an ongoing source of controversy.

The Lake House, in a photo from last winter, was purchased in July 2015 for $2.6 million, and has been an ongoing source of controversy. Photo by Ken Moore.

Reston Association announced Monday that it seeks volunteers from its membership base to “assist the Board Governance Committee in its selection of a firm to review the budgetary, administrative and governance aspects of RA's purchase, planned use, and renovation of the Lake House property (formerly known as Tetra), including the recent capital cost overruns associated with renovation of the facility.”

Distrust fills the Tetra property, and RA’s handling of the purchase.

“Reston Association (RA) has long been criticized for lack of transparency and autocratic decision-making. Tetra is just the latest and most costly example that will financially saddle RA homeowners for decades,” according to Terry Maynard, of Reston 20/20.

In its news releases, Reston Association states that “RA members voted in a referendum in the spring of 2015 to allow the association to purchase the Lake House property located at 11450 Baron Cameron Ave. It was known at the time that the 3.476 acre waterfront property and aging building would need to be renovated.”

The purchase price was $2.65 million.

One third of eligible Reston Association voters cast ballots, with 53 percent of those voters in favor of authorization for RA Board of Directors to borrow $2.65 million to purchase the Tetra property, formerly known as the Reston Visitors Center. During the month-long referendum, dozens of people on both sides of the debate held a robust dialogue on the merits of purchasing the property.

At the time, many opponents objected to the cost of the building and the value of the purchase. The assessed value was about half the purchase price.

“The independent Tetra audit task force, to be selected soon by a special committee composed of the four Reston Association Board Governance Committee (BGC) members and three Reston residents, will have a challenging task reviewing the Tetra (Lake House) debacle,” Maynard said in a statement. “They will have to determine why and how RA negotiated and paid roughly twice the market price of the Tetra property, then overspent its Tetra renovation forecast by nearly threefold, and did so without prior RA Board budget approval.”

Volunteers selected this week will meet with the RA Board Governance Committee in July and August to review responses to RA's request for proposals and provide recommendations to the Board of Directors on firms in August.

The volunteer panel will also evaluate findings of the selected firm before presenting them to the board.

Candidates with professional experience in accounting, auditing, law, construction project management, governance and internal controls are encouraged to apply, according to RA.

RA indicates the the final report would include a review of the processes and internal controls that were followed across the organization from association staff, to the RA Board of Directors and RA contractors in handling all decision-making, governance, administrative and financial aspects of RA’s purchase, including the referendum, planned use and renovation of Tetra that have led to cost overruns and revenue shortfalls.