By RCA President Colin Mills

When you’re a community leader, you want to feel that you’re
doing real good for your community.  I’ve
never had that feeling more strongly than last week, when we held a joint
with Reston Association and ARCH on the draft Comprehensive Plan.  Civic organizations coming together to inform
our citizens about a complex issue with big implications for our future… that’s
my idea of doing good.  The forum was a
triumph for our organizations and for Reston.

I’ve talked many times about my desire to work with other
organization to help the community. 
Happily, the leadership at RA and ARCH feels the same way, and we’ve had
many productive conversations about how we can join forces.  The Master Plan Task Force provided the spark
to bring us together; we realized that we shared many of the same concerns, and
we decided we would be more effective as a chorus, rather than as solo
We developed a joint
statement of principles
that we felt should guide the Comprehensive Plan.  And we decided to hold a community meeting to
let our citizens know where the Task Force process stands, the areas where we
think the Comp Plan could be made better, and why this all matters.  We also wanted to give our citizens a chance
to ask questions and share their concerns. 
We expected the forum would be well attended, but we didn’t
realize how popular it would be.  The
meeting took place in the RA Conference Center, and it was standing room
only.  We set up an overflow room where
people could watch on video, and that was standing room only as well.  All told, over 250 folks showed up for.  I haven’t seen a crowd that big at a
community meeting since the Rescue
Reston rally
last September.  It was
great to see so many Restonians concerned about the community’s future!
Task Force chair Patty Nicoson started us off by explaining the
Task Force’s vision for the Metro station areas.  Next, Richard Lambert of the County
Department of Planning and Zoning provided an overview of the Comp Plan as it stands.  Then we turned it over to our panel, consisting
of RA’s Andy Sigle, RCA’s Terry Maynard, and ARCH’s Jerry Volloy.  Together, they addressed each of the principles
in our joint statement, outlined the strengths and weaknesses of the Plan in
those areas, and provided suggestions for improving it.  (Those suggestions became a joint
our three organizations submitted to the Task Force after the
After that, we took questions from the audience.  My only regret is that we didn’t have time to
answer them all; there were a lot of thoughtful comments.  We did try to address common questions that
were asked by a lot of different folks. 
Through these common questions, a picture emerged.  Our citizens are concerned about what development
will do to our traffic.  They’re eager to
see pedestrian and bike connections as well as roads.  They’re worried about the impact to our
environment and open spaces.  They’re
curious how we’ll find enough recreation space, so that the people who live and
work here can also play here.  They’re
excited about the Silver Line, but worried about how the changes it brings will
affect the Reston they love.
I closed out the forum by explaining why the Comprehensive
Plan process matters. The decisions we’re making now will set the ground rules
for development in Reston for the next 40 or 50 years.  We’re creating the Reston that our children
and grandchildren will live in.  We’re
seeking to balance the ability for Reston to grow and remain vital with the
timeless values that we’ve always held dear. 
This process brings a tremendous opportunity and a
tremendous risk.  If we get this right,
we’ll succeed in updating Bob Simon’s vision and maintaining a vibrant
community into the future.  If we get it
wrong, we risk losing the qualities and the balance that make Reston
special.  The Comprehensive Plan has real
consequences for our traffic, our open spaces, our environment, our
recreational amenities, and our quality of life.
All in all, it was a tremendous event.  If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch
the recording provided
by RA.
Now it’s your turn. 
The best way to ensure that the Comp Plan is right for Reston is for you
to speak up and get involved.  The more
citizens that the County and the Task Force hear from, the better chance we
have.  Fortunately, there are still
opportunities for you to make your voice heard.
Please come to the next Task Force meeting, on Tuesday,
October 29th at 7 PM at RA Headquarters.  Members of the public can speak at the
meeting.  The Task Force is used to
hearing the same old voices, and it would be great to see and hear from some
new faces.
Once the Task Force approves the Comprehensive Plan, it will
go before the Planning Commission on November 13, and the Board of Supervisors
in December.  We want to see a big
turnout of Restonians who care about our community’s future!
In addition to the public speaking opportunities, you can
also email your thoughts directly to the Task Force and to Supervisor Hudgins.  Whether you like the Comp Plan or don’t, they
need to hear what you have to say. 
I’m grateful to RA and ARCH for standing together with us
and keeping the public informed on this issue. 
(Thanks especially to Cate Fulkerson and the RA staff for their great
work in setting up the forum.)  I’m glad
Patty and Richard came to give the Task Force side of the story.  And I’m proud and honored that so many of our
citizens showed up to see what we had to say.

The best part?  We’re
just getting started.  All three of our
organizations have really enjoyed collaborating, and we’re actively seeking
other ways that we can work together for the good of the community.  We are the custodians of Reston’s future, and
we take that duty seriously.  Stay tuned
to see how else we will work to make Reston a better place.