Introduction– Restonians must vote either “yes” or “no” on a referendum to save the open spaces near Lake Newport known as the Tetra Property. Opponents have rallied behind the process in which this referendum was brought, and used that as a means to “show the Reston Association a lesson” by voting this down.
The only way to spare this valuable 3.48 acre piece of property, located in a way to bridge other community properties together, is for Reston to buy it. Period. This is no time to debate process or prove ancillary points. Use common sense and vote “yes” on Tetra.
Why I Consider a “yes” Vote on the Tetra Referendum a “no brainer”
I am a newly-elected At Large Director on the Reston Association Board, and perhaps the strongest advocate for the purchase of the Tetra property among all of us. People know me as a passionate advocate for open spaces in Reston, whether it be to save the golf course or secure the Tetra property. I was not on the RA Board when the decision to call for a referendum to purchase Tetra was made, and I cannot comment on the many valid points made by opponents of the purchase regarding the Association’s “openness” (or lack thereof), or the need to have a better dialogue with members before making such a crucial decision.
To those lodging this objection, I hear you. I will be working with members and others on the Community Engagement Committee going forward, and welcome all ideas and input. There are valuable points to be raised regarding RA process, and these will be continually addressed. However, that issue should not cloud our thinking, nor drive anyone’s vote, in regards to this important decision on Tetra.
Over the past few months, I have made many comments regarding why we must vote “yes” on this referendum, and proceed to purchase the Tetra property. I was in the process of finalizing an essay on this subject when I read the eloquent and detailed op-ed from Colin Mills, which I link below. Rarely does someone post an essay which encompasses my thoughts in ways which capture these thoughts exactly as I would like them presented. But Colin succeeded, so there is no need for me to repeat all of his points.
Before reading further, please take the time to read the Colin Mills op-ed, linked directly below. I am in 100% agreement and support for his position. His position forms the foundation for my comments which follow.
During the Reston Association Candidates’ Forum, one of the questions asked of candidates was their position on the Tetra purchase. I classified this purchase as a “no brainer”, and this has resulted in many people asking me to further clarify that position.
Given that I despise people being misquoted, quoted out of context, or refusing to stand up for what they say, please allow me to provide the direct answer I gave to this question. This is my unabridged answer, as provided verbally at the Candidates’ Forum:
“This is an issue in which we have a real opportunity to control needed open space. We HAVE to make the Tetra purchase.
Of course there are issues:
Are we paying too much?
What will we be using the property for?
How can we reduce the burdens on the neighbors at Lake Newport?
All of these issues CAN be dealt with, and WILL be dealt with. But all are minor compared to the potential difficulty that we will face to our way of life if stewardship of this land falls into the hands of private interests.
In the long run, the wisdom of purchasing this land will be our equivalent to the Louisiana Purchase, or buying Alaska from Russia for $7 million, which at the time was called by Congress, the media, and the American public, as ‘Seward’s Folly.’
We will look back on this purchase as a ‘no brainer’. We HAVE to make it. We will be thankful that we did make it.”
Those are my exact words, and I stand by my exact words, as a supplement to the Colin Mills’ piece.
Subsequent Events Further Making this a Logical Purchase – I understand that the owner of the property is agreeing to further concessions to improve the building. Combined with previously-known proffers, the actual purchase price for Tetra now is well below $2 million. This is in stark contrast to the stated $2.6 million price most opponents have stated.
Summary – We have only two choices which can be made here, and you must take a stand on one side or the other. As much as we would like to tweak something on one side, or adjust something on the other, we are down to a simple choice of “yes” or “no”, of “a” or “b”. How we arrived at this point is not the driving issue, in fact, it is not an issue at all within the confines of this decision. I am reminded of the U.S. Presidential elections every four years, when I am constantly presented with two far-from-ideal choices, but I have to choose one. Any attempts to link objections to process are merely diversionary tactics at this point. You have to choose which is best for Reston: “Yes” or “no”.
As an At Large Director, I am concerned with open spaces in Reston everywhere and anywhere. The loss of open space anywhere in Reston is a loss of open space everywhere, a loss to all Restonians.
Once lost to private interests, you will never recapture the space.
So here is how I see the two options:
1) A “no” Vote – A “no” vote keeps the ownership of Tetra in limbo for the foreseeable future, or until such time as a shrewd developer chooses to make a run at altering the property to make it qualify for “rezoning.” Are you comfortable in saying this will never happen? Are you comfortable in Fairfax County forever “protecting Reston’s interests” and not allowing it to happen?
I am always amazed when I read about those who have played the game of Russian Roulette. For those who are unaware of how this is played, a gun with six chambers is loaded with one bullet. People sit around the table and take turns spinning the chamber, locking it, and then holding the gun against their head and pulling the trigger. Five out of six times, the gun will not go off, and in such cases, the gun is then passed to the next “player”. Eventually, one of the players connects with the live bullet and shoots himself dead.
A “no” vote is a vote to play Russian Roulette with development interests on the Tetra property. Perhaps we have nothing at all to worry about in the near future. Perhaps it takes several developers to finally connect in a way with County authorities to seize control of the land in a way which allows redevelopment according to their desires. I cannot time this; but I realize that eventually, the loaded chamber will be pointed at us, and we will be helpless to fend off development.
2) A “yes” vote – Reston is a dynamic and growing community which runs the risk of hemorrhaging from too much growth. Even if we simply maintain existing open spaces, there will be strains on our way of life. If we lose open spaces, you know the consequences. When a quality piece of land becomes available in such an excellent location, we would be fools not to buy it.
There are so many potentially positive uses for this property. A “yes” vote will invigorate the community and extract many sound and innovative ideas from members to use this land in a way to benefit us all.
Future generations will look back at this decision and wonder what the debate was all about. They will ask: Clearly in a community which values open spaces as we do, people would cast aside ancillary issues/grievances and vote to preserve land in the community. Wouldn’t they?
A “no” vote is a vote against the protection of open space in Reston.
A “yes” vote is a vote to maintain our diligence in protecting open space and creating more positive recreational activities for the citizens of Reston.
So let’s walk together on this one. We not only need to buy the Tetra property, we need to use it in positive ways. I welcome input from all Restonians on this future use. This purchase is an important statement we need to make that we value our open spaces and way of life whether it be at Reston National Golf Course, Tetra, or any other open space which may come under future developer attacks. So in 20191….are you with me? 20194…. 20190….. do we all have the same values and concern for open space everywhere in Reston? If so, you must vote “yes” on Tetra.
Choose not to play Russian Roulette with the Tetra property. We need to buy it, value it as a prized asset to benefit the community, and take the proverbial future gun out of developers’ hands.
I hope the above clarifies my position:
Given that we only have two choices right now, the “yes” choice IS a no-brainer.
******Reston values its open spaces. Let’s keep it that way.