Date: Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 2:25 PM
Subject: Reston’s Recreational Green Open Space Golf Courses
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Dear Supervisor Hudgins,
I wanted to share with you my remarks from the 7/26/2018 meeting of the RA Board during member comments. The topic was an update on Hidden Creek Country Club.
You have stood with this community literally (the Reston NO) and by strengthening the wording regarding Reston’s two golf courses in the Comprehensive Plan. We ask that you stay the course with us this time. Of course any property owner has the right to follow the County’s process to make changes, but the property owner of HCCC should be strongly encouraged to look at options in the already built areas of the clubhouse, tennis area and parking lot.
Last Thursday I was preceded by long-time Restonian Robert Perry, who made a plea for a non-developer to acquire the land “otherwise our grandchildren are going to be fighting this long after we’re gone.” He might have included great-grandchildren … and they will fight. I have copied our County Supervisor Chair and Vice Chair as this battle for our green space sets precedent throughout Fairfax County.
Following me was Lynne Mulston, Chair of the North Course Committee who shared initial results of a survey. 96% of respondents to the survey responded YES to the question, “I want to see Rescue Reston’s North Course Committee fight to protect Hidden Creek’s land use designation of “private recreation use, more specifically to remain as golf courses.” Rescue Reston has its marching orders from this community.
My member comments are below and attached is our press release dated 7/31/2018.
Working to save the green space at the 164-acre North Course, Hidden Creek Country Club, and at the South Course, Reston National Golf Course, a 166-acre Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program Golf Course on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Connie Hartke Regarding Agenda Item G – Hidden Creek Country Club Update
President, Rescue Reston Reston Association Board of Directors Meeting 7/26/2018
Think back to spring 2012.
We knew the Silver Line was coming, but it never occurred to us that Reston’s 2 golf courses might be anything other than the recreational open space matching the land use designations in place since 1962.
Then in the summer of 2012, Northwestern Mutual put their lawyers into action and started an unprecedented attack on Reston’s Open Space. Reston’s vision was shaken, but it did not fall.
And now, here we go again.
At 164 acres, Hidden Creek is the largest consolidated recreational Open Space on the north side of Reston.
Reston Town Center is a close walk. Lake Anne and Tall Oaks residents walk there. A retiree who moved to The Harrison Apartments walked over and decided to take up golf in his 70’s. The Reston Runners club starts a run at Reston Town Center and they run/jog/walk through the course’s Reston Association pathways.
What does the new owner see?
Wheelock sees residential units and streets covering the majority of the space. Rather than viewing through Reston’s lens of people living in concentrated housing walking over to concentrated open space, they envision their new clusters as a close walk to “the city” – Reston Town Center.
Reston is 54 years old. It’s only the last 6 of these years that Reston has been forced to consider that the golf courses might be anything other than Open Space. If we allow these speculators to chip away, they will eventually get it all, save a pocket park here and there.
We’ve had so much new development already, and it is just the tip of the planned development that’s coming.
This is not the time to concede an inch of Open Space.
Do not swallow the supposition that golf as a sport is on the decline. The National Golf Foundation reports the total number of those playing on a golf course for the first time ever rose to a record-high 2.5 million in 2016.
Robert Perry, who has played both courses since they were built in the ‘60’s, wrote to me earlier this week: “Perhaps the best description … was that almost all of them were athletic types, who had been better than average at some other sport, and had gravitated to golf when their former pursuits had tapered off or ended.”
With Reston’s projected population growth, and our very active older generation, the number of people wanting to play golf and year-round tennis will increase.
We are very disappointed that the Wheelock consultants have not come up with any ideas for redeveloping in their already built areas of the clubhouse, tennis area and parking lot. Why not dig ‘em deep and build ‘em reasonably high with some housing on top of this new structure to help pay for these improvements? This has been suggested and as far as we can tell, ignored. Many have ideas on how to increase participation in the tennis/swim/golf club. But, Wheelock is laser-focused on how much of the land they can build housing on.
To be clear about who we are dealing with: Wheelock Community’s investment arm, Connecticut – based Wheelock Street Capital, purchased the neighboring Charter Oak Apartments and they just purchased the Hyatt Regency Dulles. Wheelock Street Capital’s interests are not the quality of this community 75 years from now. It is return on investment.
Don’t forget the nature of speculation: hope of gain comes with the risk of loss. No one needs to be sympathetic to the owners’ woes about deferred maintenance, etc. That is not this community’s problem to solve. They paid 14 million for a golf/swim/tennis club on 164 acres. Find a way to make what you bought work, or sell it to someone who will.
Keep in mind the ultimate victory, which is Land Conservation Easements that restrict development in perpetuity.
This is what we thought we had prior to 2012. We must stay united and demand NO development on the open spaces of either 18-hole course. Show a crack, and the speculators will pounce. Any compromise position outside of the clubhouse/parking lot/tennis area will compromise everything.