Monday, November 10, 2014

Reston Master Plan (RMP) Phase II Community Input Session 3

The November 8 Community Meeting at Aldrin Elementary School to discuss pedestrian connectivity throughout Reston, Baron Cameron retail and Tall Oaks Village Center was very interactive.  Lots of folks (approx. 70) putting dots on charts helped our County Land Use and Planning staff pinpoint our views of the key items, including desired design features and recommended additions/changes for Baron Cameron & Tall Oaks and Reston's sidewalk network.
Attendees were given the opportunity for public comments. A few of us took the opportunity to speak to our neighbors, the Planning Staff, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and several of her staff.  Three speakers reinforced the value of the senior housing at each of the Village Centers.
Heidi Merkel, the RMP II Project Manager from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, asked us to think out of the box when it came to Tall Oaks.  To put aside limitations and pre-conceived thoughts.  Reston resident Leni Nazare had come prepared with innovative suggestions that are worth repeating.

Comments by Leni Nazare, as shared at the public planning meeting on 8 November 2014:

I’d like to offer four food-related suggestions for Reston’s village centers. Each one is intended to draw people together – as is the intention of the village centers themselves.

1. Pop Up Food Truck Day. Have half a dozen food trucks with different cuisines park in one of our village centers, perhaps on a Saturday from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. And set up a big tent with lawn chairs and/or tables and chairs inside -- so people can sit and linger while enjoying the food and company! Tall Oaks Village Center would be perfect for this because the parking lot is empty and the seniors at Tall Oaks Assisted Living could join the fun.

2.  Cooking school. The cooking school could be set up to serve not only the well heeled, but also the immigrants living in our community.  Our immigrants can teach the rest of us how to cook their native cuisines!  New York City already has such a program: .  

To do this, we need a community cooking and teaching space. Perhaps we could start this program by using the space at the Reston Community Center, but in order to grow, we would need a larger more specially designed space.

3. Shared commercial kitchen, such as the one in DC:  The trend away from packaged junk food to healthier food is creating the opportunity for entrepreneurial ventures. The small businesses that are hatched in a commercial kitchen incubator can offer low-income people and others jobs close to home!

4. Independent restaurants. Eating out in Reston would be more fun if we had more independent restaurants that offer interesting food choices and special events, such as trivia nights, which bring people together. To encourage these restaurants to locate in Reston, let’s use the CSA concept.  Just like you pay your CSA (community supported agriculture) for 20 weeks of vegetables before the season starts, so too you could pay the restaurant for 20 meals before you ever dine there. This would reassure the restaurant that there is a market for what they offer. And it would create community because people from the neighborhood would be dining there over and over again and running into each other.

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