Monday, March 25, 2013

Reston Citizens Association--Strong Again

The following is a copy of an article posted on, by John Lovaas.

There is great new life and focus in our Reston Citizens Association (RCA).

Over the last three years, RCA and its dynamite Reston 2020 action committee have been following the work of the Task Force created by Supervisor Hudgins in 2009 to rewrite the outdated Reston Master Plan to be ready for Metro.  They’ve pulled together a good team that not only follows the work of the sluggish Task Force, but provides quality analysis of the emerging outlines of the direction new development proposals are taking and their implications for our community.
Furthermore, they publish their findings in very readable form, readily available on the RCA website and at

Their analyses get attention not just in Reston media like Patch and the Connection, but also in Washington regional media—newspaper, radio and even TV. They are credible.

In early February, RCA put out a white paper dealing with the imminent arrival of the Silver Line and how unprepared Reston was in terms of supporting infrastructure.  The paper, “Wiehle Metro Station Access: Congestion Ahead”, is a stark warning for the community that the infrastructure necessary to make the station accessible is not in place, that virtually nothing has been done by Fairfax County to implement recommendations from its own study (Report of the Reston Metro Access Group-RMAG) five years ago.  The White Paper, a concise 13 pages, is a must-read for residents who will soon be living with Metro.  See it on RCA or Reston 2020 websites.

Also last month, RCA named its Citizen of the Year, Cate Fulkerson, the person who makes the machinery of the Reston Association work.  A superb choice.  And, our new Reston Rep. Gerry Connolly did the honors at the RCA presentation ceremony, a symbol of RCA’s move back to the forefront of community organizations.

Now, RCA is providing the community forums for discussing THE issues of the day for us. A couple of weeks ago, it was a lively discussion of the inadequate plans for bus service in the age of Metro.  Next week, it will sponsor a community forum on the Reston Community Center tentative plans for a new Rec Center. Should be a lively discussion!

Having served in leadership roles on both Reston Association and RCA, I believe in the mission of both organizations.  Frankly, I think RA’s been doing a very good job recently serving as our homeowners association and master of our facilities and steward of open spaces.  I’m glad they protect trees and take action when residents cut them down, for example, in violation of the rules. It protects community goods.

However, analyzing future development plans and policies, the coming of rail service and other county or state policies affecting the community as a whole is not RA’s cup of tea.  Public policy and issues with government, advocating for Reston residents’ interests with government, especially with Fairfax County, are areas that are a better fit with citizens associations as has historically been the case in Reston and McLean.
But, citizens associations, like RCA, tend to be staffed and led by volunteers. Accordingly, they have their good times and their down times.  In the last few years, RCA has rebuilt itself.  It now is run by a very capable Board with extraordinary leadership and a corps of volunteer analysts and writers who assess what public agencies are doing and are very capable of commenting on
their actions and advocating for the interests of the community.

In my view, Reston is going through a mini-golden era, getting the best out of both of its principal community organizations.  The good times certainly will continue as long as current leadership stays around.

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