Reston: Lake House Review Gets More Expensive

Reston: Lake House Review Gets More Expensive

Price tag for independent review goes from $1 to up to $45K.

— The Reston Association Board of Directors hired StoneTurn Group, LLC to independently review the processes it used to purchase and renovate the Lake House property. The decision was made in executive session during the board’s regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 26.

“We were successful in securing a contract … from StoneTurn,” Board Vice President and At-Large Director Michael Sanio, said during the public portion of the meeting.

The general terms of the agreement give a deadline of Feb. 28 for the review to be completed and published, according to Sanio.

“There are budget implications on that,” he said.

It could cost the RA up to $45,000 for the work to be done in time.

The cost of the review has increased significantly, since the first company selected to do the work would have only charged the RA $1.

“It is most unfortunate that we weren’t able to get to an agreement on the initial proposal,” Sanio said.

An RA committee that was tasked with screening companies for the work first selected MediaWorld Ventures, LLC in September 2016. However, Sridhar Ganesan, the company’s CEO and president of the Reston Citizens Association, withdrew his company’s proposal to perform the review citing financial risk and restrictive contract language, as reported in the Connection in December 2016 and January 2017.

After four months’ worth of negotiations fell through, the RA board immediately began negotiating with StoneTurn, which was previously screened by the special committee.

Now the board needs to decide where the funding for this additional expense will be allocated from, as it was not included in the end-of-year budget negotiations when the RA expected it would only be spending $1 on the project, according to Sanio.

The Lake House property acquisition and renovation went over budget and has yielded revenue shortfalls ever since it was purchased in July 2015 for $2.6 million.

One third of eligible RA voters cast ballots, with 53 percent of those in favor of authorization for RA Board of Directors to borrow $2.65 million to purchase the 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.