Saturday, December 14, 2013


From Blade Runners late this morning:  "This event seems less severe than last Sunday. Temperatures are not supposed to fall below freezing.  In addition, Sunday brings sun and the mid-40Fs.  For these reasons we do not plan to provide any service."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Due to continuing very cold, wet, and snowy weather conditions forecast for this coming weekend, December 14-15, HCA unfortunately must postpone this semi-annual event until early Spring 2014 when outdoor temperatures are warmer but not too warm, and before Common Area vegetation fills out and become less accessible.  Until then, HCA encourages Members to remove and stack tree debris near footpaths, remove vines from trees, and clear overgrown brush during other fair weather days.  New dates will be announced on this website.  Contact the HCA Director(s) for your Block for more information.

Monday, December 9, 2013


From Blade Runners Monday early afternoon:  "We did not get the higher temperatures and rain as forecast.  This has created some unwanted residue on the roadway.  The treatment from last night will help to melt this off over the next 3 hours. There are likely to be small amounts of re-freezing tonight.  We would normally be performing touch-ups to these areas today but we must prepare for the storm tomorrow.   Roadway plowing:  Will begin at 2 inches tomorrow.  Ice Control:  None planned until after plowing."

NOAA NWS forecast for Fairfax County as of 12:30 p.m. today:  Monday night ... slight chance of rain, then snow, sleet likely, slight chance of rain and freezing rain after midnight.  Tuesday ... morning snow and sleet, then chance of afternoon snow, accumulation 3-5 inches.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


From Blade Runners midday Saturday:  " ... This storm is scheduled to drop 1-2 inches of snow in the region between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Sunday.  In the afternoon we are scheduled to have ice accumulations of up to 1/4 inch.  Roadway plowing:  None planned unless we reach 2 inches. ... "

UPDATE from Blade Runners midday Sunday:  " ... Please be advised due to the change in forecast we are planning on a Magic Salt roadway application for all communities.  Trucks will be through this afternoon and into the evening. ... No plowing is being scheduled."

See this website Emergencies page for related contact information, including contacting TWC for emergency fallen tree removal.

UPDATE Monday morning:  There is now a single-car passage space cut through the large fallen tree branch in the Block 1-2 guest parking area.  TWC was notified of the overall problem earlier this morning.  Maple Ridge Road appears to passable mushy ice.

Friday, December 6, 2013


HCA Members are encouraged to join the Board of Directors on Saturday and Sunday, December 14 and 15, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to remove fallen tree debris and stack it near footpaths, to cut climbing vines choking cluster trees, and to clear overgrown brush from Hickory Cluster Common Areas.  Temperatures should be cool enough to work hard in protective shirts and pants without overheating, Fall leaves have just been removed, and stacked tree debris will be removed within the following few weeks.  Weather permitting, please join us to help improve the cluster grounds and meet your neighbors.  Contact the HCA Director(s) representing your Block for more information.


A 1993 HCA Articles of Incorporation Amendment states that "In the event of ... resignation ... of a single director, that Director's successor shall be selected by the remaining members of the Board and shall serve until the next members' meeting ... at which meeting an election shall be held to fill out the unexpired term. ... ."

Recently a member of the volunteer HCA Board of Directors resigned for personal reasons.  To give all HCA Members an equal opportunity to fill the vacant position, the Board invites prospective candidates to attend the next HCA meeting on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 and express their interest.  The Board will select the new Director at the Wednesday, January 15, 2014 monthly meeting, and will hold a clusterwide election for the two years remaining of the three-year term at the May 2014 Annual Meeting.

Serving as a Director means doing more than just attending monthly meetings and voicing opinions.  It involves many additional hours reviewing budgets, proposals, contracts, and other documents; collaborating with other Directors, neighbors, consultants, and contractors; taking hands-on responsibility for leading projects; and making difficult decisions to effectively manage a non-profit corporation.  If you have the passion, commitment, and experience, here's your chance to help maintain and enhance Hickory Cluster quality of life, architectural integrity, and property values.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


On Thursday afternoon, December 5, an HCA contractor will plant five new trees in Block 2 parking lot peninsulas to replace five problematic Bradford Pear trees removed earlier this year after numerous resident complaints about fruit-stained cars, because they posed increasing falling debris risk, and because RA identified them as trees to avoid.  HCA selected Natchez Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia 'Natchez', as replacements.  To help the contractor complete his work, and to protect your property, HCA asks affected Block 2 residents to park their cars in other unassigned spaces away from the central parking peninsula planting areas.  Contact HCA Director Blake Travis for more information.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Hickory Cluster Architect Charles M. Goodman, FAIA passed away on October 29, 1992 at the age of 85.  His widow, Dorothy S. Goodman, followed him on February 25, 2013

The Dorothy S. Goodman Trust will make approximately 60 lots of furniture and artwork from the Goodmans' personal collection available at a public auction starting at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 7, 2013, at The Potomack Company, Alexandria, Virginia.  Items from other sources will also be available.  Registration is required to bid.  Each winning bid will incur a 17.5% fee in addition to 6% Virginia sales tax.

Pre-sale viewing is available on Saturday, November 23 starting at 10:00 a.m. and will continue through the morning of the auction.  At 2:00 p.m., John Burns of Hollin Hills and the U.S. National Parks Service will lead an informal presentation and discussion on Charles Goodman and his influence on local architecture.  At 3:30 p.m., Professor Oscar Fitzgerald will lead a discussion on the Goodman collection Danish Modern furniture.

This personal collection does not appear to include architectural drawings, photographs, and other material from the architect's professional practice.  Dorothy Goodman donated that collection, including more than 7,000 drawings and renderings covering more than 700 projects from the 1930s to the 1980s, to the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, DC, as the Charles M. Goodman Archive in 2001 where it remains today.

However, it appears that some of the furniture and artwork to be auctioned did furnish The Charles M. Goodman House in Alexandria, and some are shown in 1957 Alcoa Care-Free Home promotional photos.  The Goodman-renovated farmhouse and glass pavilion addition were added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on May 28, 2013.  A Hollin Hills Alcoa house is located at 7801 Elba Rd.

Note of caution to prospective buyers:  The auction company indicates that for at least one if not more of the Goodman Trust lots to be auctioned, " ... attribution ... is based on family oral history and we cannot provide additional documentation."  In addition, and according to the auction company Terms and Conditions of Sale, " ... Neither the Auctioneer nor The Potomack Company nor its representatives is responsible for the accuracy of any printed or verbal communications or descriptions. ... ."  So, if you want a document that certifies your item as Goodman-designed and/or Goodman-owned with perceived added value over and above the same generic item from your neighborhood yard sale or weekend flea market, such a key document is not available from either the auction company or the Trust.  Unfortunately, that makes proving specific Goodman provenance difficult now and in the future, and may decrease the market value of these items.


Reston Association will hold the second of two hearings on a controversial land exchange proposed by the Lake Anne Development Partners LLC (LADP) as part of their proposed Lake Anne project.  The swap will enable LADP to develop currently-wooded land into a public parking facility to support Lake Anne Village Center businesses.  Background information, including maps and an extensive redevelopment project timeline, is available on the RA website.  The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. at RA Headquarters.

This land swap may impact Hickory Cluster because at least one alternative suggested by other concerned Lake Anne area residents is for LADP to build the commercial parking area, possibly a multi-level garage, on land near the government services Lake Anne Office Building with access to North Shore Drive directly across from Maple Ridge Road and Hickory Cluster.  This could increase already congested traffic and parking in the immediate residential area.

UPDATE ... During the November 21 RA Board of Directors meeting, LADP Manager David Peter stated that they evaluated almost a dozen LAVC retail parking options, but a possible site adjacent to the Lake Anne Office Building was not viable.  In addition, Lake Anne of Reston Condominium Association (LARCA) President Rick Thompson indicated that LARCA also did not favor that option and instead supported the LADP plan as proposed.  After many public comments and much discussion, the RA Board voted to enter into a revised, non-binding Letter of Intent with LADP to exchange land as part of the proposed redevelopment project.

Monday, November 18, 2013


The HCA Board of Directors typically meets in November at the Reston Community Center Lake Anne. 

However, because the Rose Gallery was already booked for November 20, the meeting will take place instead at the Reston Museum in Lake Anne Village Center and is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, November 4, 2013


From Reston RELAC President Mark Waddell recently:  "We will be draining down the system this month and doing repairs.  The system will be completely drained all of November.  This will allow homeowners to schedule work on their RELAC systems.

There are many homes where cut-off valves do not work.  Some are still original valves.  We recommend that you have these valves checked.  If you have an emergency these valves need to be able to close.  Please contact your HVAC service provider or call Reston RELAC Service Division at (703) 349-3301 or  We can provide all RELAC repair services. 

Reston RELAC will provide updates on repairs and improvements to the RELAC system and a report on this year's operation before the end of the year."

When the RELAC system is de-pressurized and drained this month, homeowners can also drain their inside pipes and coils.  But as previously noted, and to avoid burst coils during winter months from furnace heat, always leave the return valve open.  Contact Reston RELAC for more information.

UPDATE ... RELAC system pipes will be refilled on December 15, 2013.  Homeowners should request and complete individual RELAC system repairs before that date.  Contact RELAC President Mark Waddell at (703) 349-3301 or for more information.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


As recently announced on flyers distributed throughout Hickory Cluster, judging of the annual Pumpkin Carving Contest at your front door, balcony, or window is from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. tonight.  First Prize is $15, Second Prize is $10, and Third Prize is $5, funded by HCA.  Results will be published here on the official HCA website.

The NOAA National Weather Service forecast, as of 10:30 a.m. this morning for Fairfax County tonight, is for a 70 percent chance of rain, but mainly after midnight, with south winds from 15-25 mph, and lows in the mid-60F range.  So keep an eye on your masterpieces and try to illuminate and photograph them earlier rather than later this evening.  Good luck!

UPDATE ... Hickory Cluster residents put on a great show for trick-or-treaters, parents, friends, and neighbors, despite a chilly, rainy evening.

First Place was awarded to the Wolcott Family in Block 3 for pumpkins custom-carved and decorated as Minion characters from the popular Universal Studios animated comedy Despicable Me films.

Second Place was awarded to the Barnett Family in Block 1 for a custom-carved pumpkin perched high up on their second floor balcony.

Third Place was awarded to the Ikhide Family in Block 2 for a pumpkin cleverly disguised as a mummy character lurking in the shadows near their front door.

And there were lots of other well-carved and brightly-lit jack-o'-lanterns throughout the cluster to enjoy.
Thanks to all the 2013 creative pumpkin artists for their hard work, and especially to Bob Anderson and Lani Young for organizing the event again this year.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The HCA Board of Directors meeting will be held as usual on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at TWC Association Management offices, 397 Herndon Parkway, Suite 100, Herndon, VA 20170.  Members can attend the meeting starting at 7:30 p.m., however effective with this meeting the Member Forum will be held at or about 8:30 p.m. rather than previously as the first agenda item.


Storycatcher Productions advised HCA recently that they hope to include video footage and still images of Hickory Cluster in their upcoming film entitled The Reston Story by local Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, and USC School of Cinema-TV Master of Fine Arts graduate, Rebekah Winger-Jabi.  Local cinematographer Ross Kirby will film Goodman House exteriors and cluster grounds from public Common Areas during the next few days and evenings of good weather, hopefully before all the leaves fall.  The film will premiere on April 5, 2014 as part of Reston 50th Anniversary Celebration activities.  Tax-deductible donations through the Reston Museum fund the project.


Reston RELAC President Mark Waddell advised that yesterday, October 9, 2013 was the official end of the 2013 Cooling Season when RELAC turned off its chillers and pumps at 12:00 noon.  Community air-conditioning chilled water will be available again in May 2014.  As noted in 1974 RELAC guidance, and to avoid over-pressurizing and bursting summer cooling coils, customers should not turn off both RELAC valves when using their winter furnace heating system.  Always leave the return valve open.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


As required by HCA Special Resolution 2, the HCA Board agreed at its September 18 monthly meeting to hold a public discussion and hearing on the recently proposed modifications to HCA General Resolution 15, Goodman House Mail Receptacles at the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 16, 2013 HCA monthly meeting at the offices of TWC Association Management, 397 Herndon Parkway, Suite 100, Herndon, VA 20170.  At this meeting HCA Members can voice their opinions on the proposed modifications.  Board majority action to adopt or reject the proposed modifications will follow not later than thirty days from the hearing.  The modifications propose to allow exterior-mounted mailboxes, like the Home Depot product pictured here, as replacements for original, as-built, through-door Goodman House mailslots.  See the August 16, 2013 HCA announcement posted below, and related document links and posts, for additional information.  UPDATE:  The HCA Board did not approve the proposed modifications at the October 16, 2013 monthly meeting and related hearing.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


As reported yesterday in the Reston Patch, The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an interim agreement with Republic Land Development on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 for redevelopment of the County-owned Crescent Apartments and for the adjacent Lake Anne Village Center entrance and parking lot. 

The proposed redevelopment will require demolition of several early Reston First Village buildings, and eventually add more than 1,000 housing units on the combined Crescent and Lake Anne sites, including townhouse and mid-rise buildings, a 15-story high-rise building similar in height to Heron House, and workforce housing.  It will also add additional retail space, underground retail parking, and up to 50,000 s.f. of new office space.

After numerous meetings with Lake Anne residents and businesses, Republic will present its conceptual plan to the general public at a community open house meeting on Monday, September 16, 2013 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Reston Community Center Lake Anne.  Republic will also present its plans to the RA Design Review Board on Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. at RA Headquarters.  RA DRB approval is one of several required, and their meetings provide opportunities for Reston residents to formally voice support for or concerns about such proposals.

Friday, August 23, 2013


As noted in an earlier post, the 1993 HCA General Resolution 5, Exterior Painting Standards and Maintenance of Concrete Beams, Appendix A, specifies several Duron Paint colors and finishes for key Hickory Cluster architectural elements and details, including:  914 White flat for stucco panels, and semi-gloss for exterior window trim and pre-painted concrete block patio walls; 5414D Asteroid semi-gloss; and 5335A Ranch Mink semi-gloss.  Nearest store location is 495A Elden Street in Herndon, just past the Fairfax County Parkway and Safeway store, telephone (703) 471-1484.  This information is for reference only, not an endorsement or guarantee.

Friday, August 16, 2013


A Hickory Cluster resident suffered serious injuries last week while walking home late from work.  As the Reston Patch reported on August 13:  "A man was robbed and assaulted on the bike path near Maple Ridge Road in Reston late last Wednesday.  The victim, 46, was in the 11500 block of Maple Ridge near Lake Anne about 10:45 p.m. on August 7 when two men approached him, according to police reports. The victim told police the men assaulted him and stole his cash.  The victim was hospitalized for his injuries and reported the incident the next day. He told the police the suspects were two black men in their 20s who were wearing dark clothing."  To help our neighbor cover related medical bills, casual French Bistro and long-time Lake Anne Village Center business Cafe Montmartre will donate 50% of dinner proceeds after 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 18, 2013, and is collecting additional donations.  Space is limited and reservations are recommended.  This information is for reference only, not an endorsement or guarantee.


Time to prepare for Fall cleaning and painting before Winter weather sets in.  HCA General Resolution 5, Exterior Painting Standards and Maintenance of Concrete Beams, Appendix A, approved in 1993, specifies several Duron Paint colors and finishes for key Hickory Cluster architectural elements and details, including:  Stucco Panels, Wooden Fascia Board, Concrete Block Patio Walls, Interior Carport Walls, Private Metalwork and balcony railings, and Other Metal Details and dryer vents.  Typical HCA colors include White, Asteroid, and Ranch Mink.  Duron Paints just announced 35% off on paints and stains during the August 16-19, 2013 weekend.  Nearest store location is 495A Elden Street in Herndon, just past the Fairfax County Parkway and Safeway store, telephone (703) 471-1484.  This information is for reference only, not an endorsement or guarantee.


A member of the HCA Board of Directors recently proposed draft modifications to HCA General Resolution 15, Goodman House Mail Receptacles, in response to neighbor requests, and because exterior-mounted mailboxes are used in other Reston clusters.  The Gibralter Townhouse exterior-mounted mailbox shown above was suggested as one possible standard because it is readily available at Home Depot.  Although through-door mailslots are an original as-built Goodman House architectural detail, currently 11 of 90 Hickory Cluster residences have exterior-mounted mailboxes in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors.  There are none in Block 1, one in Block 2, and ten in Block 3.  However, no exterior-mounted mailboxes are currently approved by the RA Design Review Board for use on Hickory Cluster Goodman Houses.  And HCA General Resolution 15 does not require Goodman House owners to remove existing non-confirming mailboxes until they sell their homes.


The RA Board of Directors updated its Use & Maintenance Standards Resolution 15, Air-Conditioning Units/RELAC HVAC System on May 23, 2013, to incorporate existing equipment operation certification by RELAC-certified HVAC professionals.  It also includes new text on HVAC system maintenance and upgrade consultation with RELAC prior to filing temporary exemption applications.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Block 2 Members noticed that Republic Services did not pick up several bags of yard debris this morning for some reason, even though we usually see them remove household trash and yard debris on Mondays and Thursdays.  However, TWC contacted Republic and confirmed this morning that apparently Wednesdays are Hickory Cluster yard debris pick-up days.  UPDATE:  Wednesday has come and gone and the yard debris is still there ... no pick-up.  TWC is working on the issue.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


As requested by Members interested in preserving the architectural integrity, appearance, and property values of Goodman Houses clusterwide, US Postal Service guidelines for through-door mailslots as published within USPS Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) Section 508 Parts 2.1.3 and 2.1.6, are summarized as follows: 

-  The slot bottom must be at least 30 inches above the floor
-  The opening must be at least 1 1/2 x 7 inches
-  Horizontal slots must have a hinged top flap
-  Inside privacy hoods shouldn’t be below the bottom of the outside plate and should not project more than 2 1/16 inches beyond the inside of the door.

Current USPS policy is that mail delivery to all new building developments be centralized, most often using Cluster Box Units (CBUs).  In addition, the USPS Office of Inspector General recommended in 2011 that USPS reduce labor costs by eliminating all door-to-door delivery, or to offset related expenses by charging extra for this service.  However, the new development CBU policy does not apply to existing individual residences like Hickory Cluster that receive door-to-door delivery, the Federal Government has not yet decided to eliminate all door-to-door delivery, and customers nationwide are resisting many such proposed changes to USPS service.

USPS guidelines above are supplemented by more specific RA Design Guidelines for Cluster Housing Mailboxes and HCA General Resolution 15 for Goodman House Mail Receptacles.  Products that meet these USPS, RA, and HCA requirements, and that provide weather-resistant seals, are readily available and easily installed.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Early photos show that Hickory Cluster once included a large children's playground between Blocks 2 and 3 near the western property boundary. 

Although not specifically shown on the original site plan drawings, this playground appears to be thoughtfully designed and most likely the work of Architect Charles M. Goodman or an associate.

Unfortunately the playground site was in a flood plain.  So the playground equipment eventually deteriorated, became a greater liability, and was removed.  Only the original wooden and metal bench remained.

Later two Goodman-style post-and-extended-beam swingsets were designed and installed, one near the playground and one near Block 1.  Since then, violent storms have wreaked havoc with Hickory Cluster trees.  A tree felled by the June 29, 2012 derecho storm crushed the swingset near the original playground.  The Board of Directors replaced both HCA swingsets in 2012 and added surrounding ground safety material.

In addition, one large tree partly-downed during the same derecho storm threatened to fall on a nearby RA footpath.  During the difficult and dangerous removal process, that tree was pulled clear of other supporting trees farther away than expected and accidentally damaged the former playground bench.

The HCA Board of Directors agreed soon thereafter to replace the bench, but a Director felt strongly that a location to the side of the now-open meadow might allow children and adults to run and play more freely.  It would eliminate a potential obstacle, potential injuries, and potential HCA liability.  It would be easier for grounds crews to maintain the meadow grass.  And since the original playground was long gone, the original bench location was no longer relevant.

Several Members disagreed with the Board and argued for replacement of the bench back in its original location in the middle of the meadow so they could be closer to their children.

UPDATE:  During the July 17, 2013 HCA Board of Directors meeting, Members and Directors discussed and then approved purchase and installation of two new wooden-slat benches similar to the original design, one in the Block 3 meadow as originally sited, and one nearby.  HCA Vice President Ralph Youngren FAIA is leading the effort.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


English Ivy is an Invasive Plant.  Reston Association and many others say so.  It grows over and up and into everything.  It clogs storm drains.  It invades and short-circuits pad-mounted transformer wiring.  It digs into brick walls, fractures mortar, and won't let go.  It damages tree bark, attracts gypsy moths, hides dangerous tree trunk defects, and smothers leafy branches, eventually killing otherwise healthy trees.  It often grows in combination with Poison Ivy.  And it shelters critters, including chipmunks, that some Members consider to be pests. 

However, English Ivy also provides excellent ground cover that controls soil erosion because its vast root systems anchor soil and help keep it from washing away.  It costs very little to maintain.  It can be very expensive to replace.  And in the eyes of many Members it looks just fine.

The RA Environmental Resource Team position on English Ivy is that they " ... encourage, but do not require, the removal of existing invasive species from private property, including Cluster common property."  Furthermore, " ... Plants already in place ... are grandfathered in, or exempt, from removal. ... "  A related RA brochure identifies eight common Invasive Plants, including English Ivy, that should not be planted in Reston after May 22, 2008.

In addition, RA Design Guidelines for Cluster Common Area Landscaping state that "DRB review is required for regrading or other erosion control projects.  Any such installation which alters the existing flow of water must not detrimentally affect neighboring properties or compromise the health of trees and existing vegetation."

Fairfax County also regulates erosion control and land disturbances, including cutting down trees or shrubs, excavating, grading, or adding fill dirt.  FC requires a Site Permit, Grading Plan, and Conservation Deposit for projects that will disturb 2,500 s.f. or more of land. 

The HCA position is that Members should not remove Hickory Cluster Common Area trees or plants, including English Ivy, or other cluster common property without first consulting and coordinating with the Board of Directors.  HCA has incurred thousands of dollars in unnecessary and unplanned landscaping expenses paid for by all residents to replace erosion control ground cover because of well-meaning but unauthorized removal by individuals. 

Members can also help HCA trees live longer and reduce tree removal costs by cutting and clearing English Ivy and other vines at tree trunk ground level.  And by removing as much trunk-attached ivy as possible.  This has been an easy and effective Cluster Clean-Up task for several years.  Removing vines from Goodman House brick and rear patio walls also helps maintain their integrity and appearance.

In response to recent concerns, HCA will be consulting with knowledgeable and experienced professionals to assess and propose budget-conscious solutions to related storm water runoff, storm drain, soil erosion, pad-mounted transformer, and ground cover landscaping and planting issues, hopefully consistent with the pending Stream Restoration project and with original Hickory Cluster modern landscape architecture intent, design, and construction.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Reston RELAC President Mark Waddell reported yesterday that Reston RELAC and Aqua Virginia signed legal documents on Friday, May 31, 2013 to transfer ownership of the system according to revised terms of their proposed agreement, including final stipulations of the Virginia State Corporation Commission.  RELAC is now a locally-owned and operated utility providing in-home customer service.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Reston RELAC confirmed today that the system is operational and ready for 2013 cooling season customer use.  Tests indicate that RELAC chilled water is flowing as planned in all properties including Hickory Cluster, and in Chimney House and Washington Plaza Clusters after key valves were reopened.  Reston RELAC also offered the following advice:
- Do not bleed air from your systems, instead call Reston RELAC and they will do it for you
- Check RELAC solenoid valve proper operation by turning your thermostat to Cool, adjusting the set point temperature to below the current room temperature, listening for water flowing through RELAC pipes, and/or observing the RELAC meter indicators turning
- Older in-home RELAC main valves may not fully close even in an emergency leak situation, so consider calling Reston RELAC for a system check now
- Contact Reston RELAC anytime to check systems, report problems, or to comment, at (703) 349-3301 or  A new Reston RELAC website is under construction.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Reston RELAC President Mark Waddell advised HCA midday today that the community air conditioning chilled-water system is now fully pressurized, operational, and available for customer use during the 2013 cooling season as required on the second consecutive 80F day in May.  Customers with questions about their equipment or RELAC service should contact Reston RELAC at (703) 349-3301 or


The Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, and Fairfax County History Commission, plan to recognize Hickory Cluster for historic and architectural significance by listing it in its Inventory of Historic Sites.  HCA recently agreed to allow County staff to document the cluster as part of the required nomination process. Once the nomination is complete, it will be reviewed by the History Commission for acceptance. Listing is a recognition of historical and architectural value, much like an award, and does not impose restrictions.

County staff typically relies on the general public to nominate important sites.  However, if Hickory Cluster is accepted into the Inventory, and in return for County nomination document preparation at no cost, HCA has agreed to allow posting of the completed document on the County website as an example for others.
County Heritage Resource Specialist Lauri Turkawski plans to walk HCA Common Areas during the week of May 20, 2013 to photograph and otherwise describe Hickory Cluster building exteriors and landscape, weather permitting.  Additional site visits may be required at later dates.  Visit the Inventory of Historic Sites website for more information.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


On April 30, 2013, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued an Order to conditionally approve transfer of RELAC system ownership from Aqua Virginia Inc. to Reston RELAC LLC.  Aqua and Reston RELAC formally filed a Notice of Acceptance on May 10.  They plan to close the transaction during the week of May 13-17, 2013.

According to Reston RELAC new owners Michael Coleman, Craig Nyman, and Mark Waddell:  "The three owners of Reston RELAC are excited about the coming season and are looking forward to improving customer satisfaction.  We are also committed to keeping our customers informed about the operations of RELAC.  The following website will be used to inform all customers when RELAC is operational.  Over the next few months we will improve the website and give additional information and feedback methods to our customers.  We are very interested in getting customer comments, both good and bad, and we will work on problem areas.  When the transfer is finalized, we will introduce ourselves and announce it on our website.  We will be at the Reston Farmer's Market a couple of Saturdays each month and will be happy to answer any questions or concerns our customers may have."  Email comments to .

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Thursday, May 23, 2013
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Reston Community Center Lake Anne
Lake Anne Village Center
1609A Washington Plaza
Reston, VA 20190

This program will include individual 15-minute presentations and panel discussions on Architect Charles M. Goodman FAIA and Hickory Cluster by HCA Member Richard Speier; Architect Cloethiel W. Smith FAIA and Waterview and Coleson Clusters by HCA Director Ralph P. Youngren FAIA; Architect Louis E. Sauer FAIA and Golf Course Island Cluster by Barbara Naef; and work by Architects William J. Conklin FAIA and the late James S. Rossant FAIA within Lake Anne Village Center by Cheryl Terio-Simon. 

Reston Founder Robert E. Simon Jr. and Architect Bill Conklin will also attend a private Reston Historic Trust members-only wine and appetizer reception at the Reston Museum before the public program.

Public program admission is free, but space is limited.  Donations to Reston Museum are welcome.  For more information contact Reston Museum at (703) 709-7700 or visit


The RA North Shore Heated Pool and Spa adjacent to Hickory Cluster re-opens Saturday, May 11, 2013 for the 2013 Summer swim season.  Weekend hours are 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.   Weekday hours are typically 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  RA pool passes available at RA Headquarters are required.  Check the RA website Aquatics pages for related details.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


The contractor has rescheduled this work because of expected rain on the original May 6 start date.  Block 3 work is now scheduled for Monday, May 13, and Blocks 1 and 2 for Tuesday, May 14.  Residents should remove all personal property from Common Areas before work begins.  TWC mailed residents a related notice on May 3.


The contractor recently confirmed that clusterwide HCA aslphalt pathway removal and reconstruction work will begin Thursday, May 9, and continue every day but Sundays until complete.  TWC mailed residents a related notice on May 3.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


HCA and TWC are finalizing details for the HCA Annual Meeting to be held Saturday, May 18, 2013, at the Rose Gallery in the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne, at 9:00 a.m.  TWC mailed additional information to all HCA Members on April 30.

Three Director positions are up for nomination and election this year.  HCA encourages Members currently in good standing who are interested in becoming Directors for a three-year volunteer commitment to provide statements of interest and qualifications to TWC no later than 1:00 p.m. Friday, May 17, 2013, and to indicate if you would like that information posted on this HCA website.  Or you can choose to be nominated at the Annual Meeting itself. 


HCA is finalizing a contract to reconstruct numerous Hickory Cluster pathways, to resolve a number of long-standing pathway problem areas, and to integrate with existing recently repaved Reston Association pathways.  This follows HCA discussions with almost a dozen interested contractors and professional advisors, and responses from three finalists submitted April 17, 2013, to an HCA Request for Proposals.  Work is scheduled to start May 2013 for completion by June 1, 2013.  The contract was unanimously approved by the HCA Board at its April 17, 2013 meeting, pending additional details negotiated by TWC Managing Agent Kim Hendon.  Based on his extensive business procurement and homeowner's association experience, HCA Director Michael Smith devoted countless hours to identifying needed work, formulating an effective strategy, interviewing contractors, developing an RFP, and evaluating RFP responses.  He will lead the project to completion.


HCA has contracted with Mr. Spray of Spray Services in Reston to provide follow-on Hickory Cluster powerwashing and bleaching of Blocks 1-3 Common Area plaza, step, and wall surfaces starting in Block 3 on the first good weather day for two days during the week of May 6-10, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Spray successfully provided the same services to HCA one year ago.  This hopefully annual effort will focus on typical problem spots and will help keep Common Area hardscape free of mold and mildew for another year.  TWC will provide additional information directly to residents.

Several Hickory Cluster homeowners have also individually hired Mr. Spray to powerwash their exterior house walls, window frames, patio walls, and/or patio floors this Spring.  Contact Mr. Spray at (703) 864-4703 or for more information.  Disclaimer:  This additional information is for reference only, not an HCA endorsement or guarantee.


Daly, Hamad & Associates PLLC, Certified Public Accountants, audit HCA financial statements annually.  Both 2009-10 and 2010-11 audit reports are now available on the HCA website.  The audit of 2011-12 financial data as of December 31, 2012, is still in process.


To limit visual, acoustic, and financial impacts of Outdoor Mechanical Equipment on neighboring properties and property values, Fairfax County and Reston Association publish and enforce certain long-standing general codes and design guidelines, respectively.  To provide more specific protections within Hickory Cluster, to allow timely HCA review and feedback to RA, and based on recent RA DRB decisions involving Hickory Cluster homeowners, HCA is proposing new HCA General Resolution 15 to provide more specific guidance on installation and use of Outdoor Mechanical Equipment, including but not limited to heating and air-conditioning heat pumps and electrical generators. 

In addition, and in response to numerous HCA homeowner concerns about installation of various types, styles, and colors of exterior-mounted mailboxes inconsistent with original Goodman House design and construction, HCA is also proposing new HCA General Resolution 16 to provide specific guidance to Hickory Cluster homeowners on the installation of through-door mailslots and exterior-mounted mailboxes.

As required, the proposed new resolutions were read into April 17, 2013 HCA Board of Directors meeting minutes.  Following First Reading, they were published on this HCA official website on April 25, 2013.  Following Publication, discussion and a Hearing on the new proposed resolutions will be at the May 15, 2013 monthly Board of Directors meeting, typically held at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne, at 7:30 p.m.  A brief Managing Agent report and Board Action on these new proposed resolutions are also planned for the May 15 Board meeting.  All HCA Members can attend and provide comments.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Aqua Virginia recently contracted with Reston RELAC LLC to prepare and operate the RELAC plant from April 1 to May 12, 2013.  Preparation is well underway, ahead of schedule, and RELAC will be ready for operation following the first two consecutive days of 80F weather in May, or May 22, whichever comes first. 

The Customer Cooling System Information sheet above includes a Cooling System Diagram of typical home RELAC system equipment, and a Customer Checklist for Preventive Maintenance of the Cooling System.  Aqua Virginia will perform this annual system check and advise homeowners if repairs are needed, but as usual will not repair homeowner cooling system equipment.  Call Aqua Virginia at (877) 987-2782 to schedule a system check. 

However, a Reston RELAC division will check and repair homeowner cooling system equipment.

Call Reston RELAC at (703) 349-3301 to schedule check and repair service calls as soon as possible because, after system pressurization on or about April 29, 2013, certain homeowner repairs will not be possible until the October end of the 2013 cooling season.

Also note that The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) will announce their decision on transfer of ownership from Aqua Virginia to Reston RELAC by May 2, 2013.

For additional information, check the RELAC page and posts on this website.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Today is the 45th anniversary of the untimely death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.  On April 16, 1963, in a letter from a Birmingham, Alabama jail in response to criticism from local colleagues, Dr. King wrote the following words that seem directly applicable to past, present, and future challenges facing Reston and Hickory Cluster:  " ... I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states.  I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.  Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.  ... "

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


  Saturday April 6 ... increasing clouds, high near 53F, north wind 6 mph
  Sunday April 7 ... partly sunny, high near 66F, south wind 11-14 mph

GENERAL TASKS ... 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  Spread stacked bagged mulch in plaza planters and Common Areas
  Remove tree debris and personal property from Common Areas
  Remove leaves from stair landings
  Wash white stair railings
  Cut and remove ivy growing on trees
  Stack tree debris near paths and streets for removal
  Meet your neighbors

HCA purchased and delivered 356 bags of mulch to spread within Blocks 1-3 plaza planters, the Block 3 traffic island, the Block 3 east stair area, and other HCA Common Areas.  IT IS NOT FOR PRIVATE USE IN PRIVATE PLANTERS OR ON PRIVATE PATIO GARDENS.  Also, this is a volunteer resident effort.  HCA did not request that Blade Runners spread the mulch.  For uniform coverage spread each bag of mulch over an area only TWICE the bag size.

HCA requested that Blade Runners pick up stacked tree debris no earlier than April 14 and no later than May 1.  This will give other residents time to gather and stack material after the clean-up weekend.  And it will give Blade Runners time to cost-effectively coordinate other related tasks, including RA-required removal of fallen tree debris between Block 3 and United Christian Parish following a planned April 9 UCP-HCA property line survey and marking.

  Block 1 ... Director Michael Smith
  Block 2 ... Director Michael Poss ... Blake Travis will be unavailable
  Block 3 ... Directors Zerrin Turner and Ralph Youngren


Current owner Aqua Virginia and proposed owner Reston RELAC LLC are now working to prepare the RELAC community air-conditioning chilled water system for 2013 operation.  This involves cleaning out silt and other debris from the Lake Anne plant closed water loop, clearing debris from the inlet intake screens and filters, and starting and testing all equipment.  The customer closed water loop serving 325 customers, including several large multi-family residences, will be pressurized as early as next week. 

As required by Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) utility tariff rules, RELAC will provide 2013 Cooling Season chilled water in May following the first two consecutive 80F days, but no later than 12:00 noon May 22, 2013, through 12:00 noon October 9, 2013.  The plant will operate 24x7 unless outdoor temperatures drop below 55F, when service will be temporarily suspended until outdoor temperatures exceed 60F.

Noisy and expensive external diesel pumps to compensate for low Lake Anne water levels should not be necessary this year because RELAC recently modified its intake configuration to draw deeper water.  This and other improvements have increased RELAC reliability.  According to a Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) October 31, 2012 report, RELAC met tariff-required chilled water temperatures during 144 days of the 160-day 2012 Cooling Season.  During that time, the system was only one degree warmer for eight days, and only two or three degrees warmer on two days.  That's 90 percent consistent water temperature performance during 2012 record summer heat, and 95 percent consistent performance within one degree.

See related RELAC posts and the RELAC page on this website for more information, including important 1974 suggestions for maximum cooling that are still relevant today:
"1.  Be sure your (furnace air) filter is clean.
2.  Run your fan at high speed.
3.  Do not block registers.
4.  Balance air flow so more air goes to top floors.
5.  Use draperies to screen (out) the direct rays of the sun.
6.  In the past, a few homeowners have ruptured their water coils by closing both chill(ed) water valves when they put the furnace on.  NEVER close both.  The supply (line valve) only should be shut off.  This valve is located on (the) line that has (the) electric solenoid on it (the valve with two wires going to it).  If in doubt, call RAC (RELAC)."

Monday, March 25, 2013


Spring snow.  Hopefully Winter's last gasp.  Dodged another major storm.

From Blade Runners early this morning:  "We are going to wait for a 2" accumulation before beginning any plow work. We will keep you informed this morning as the event takes shape." 

HCA then advised Blade Runners that with only about two inches of snow on the ground and no new snow falling, Maple Ridge Road and Hickory Cluster are slushy and fully passable, so plowing does not appear to be necessary.  However ice control may be worthwhile if temperatures drop below freezing tonight.  Blade Runners responded:  "We do not plan to plow, and take a wait and see on the melt-off to decide on ice control this evening." 

And from Blade Runners late this morning:  "As you can see the storm has largely come to an end. The concern is the possibility that the slush can freeze this evening as temps are headed into the 20s. Many clients have already ordered ice control for this evening as a precaution. We plan to make a judgment at 3pm after review of the melt-off."  Because continued rain melted the snow and slush, and since nighttime temperatures should be above or near freezing, Blade Runners will not provide ice control services at Hickory Cluster tonight.

Although HCA prudently budgets several thousand dollars each year for snow removal services, the work is billed on an as-needed basis with minimum charges as noted within Blade Runners contract scope of work on the HCA website Grounds page.  So no service, no charge.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


From Blade Runners this afternoon:  "A mixed bag would be the best way to put it. We can visit one site and find small amounts and travel 1/4 mile to find accumulations. Our plan is to complete this plowing round and follow with an application of Ice Control."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


From Blade Runners this afternoon:  "As many of you know, we are about to receive some snow to plow. We have not lowered our plows in 2 years! There is no plan for ice control as the storm starts with rain and it will not be effective. The snow is scheduled to fall in bands over a 12-18hr period. It is likely we will be plowing all day and into the evening with multiple visits needed. We plan to have our crews at the ready in the early morning hours. We will keep you posted as tomorrow unfolds."

Thursday, February 21, 2013


The HCA Board of Directors yesterday established Saturday and Sunday, April 6-7, 2013 as dates for the volunteer Spring Cluster Clean-Up.  Director Michael Smith will lead Block 1 efforts, Directors Blake Travis and Michael Poss will lead Block 2, and Zerrin Turner will lead Block 3.  Tasks will include traditional tree debris stacking and removal, tree ivy removal, and more.  Blade Runners will coordinate other pending tree work and combined tree debris removal for early May.  Check this website again next month for updates.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Mark Waddell and Michael Coleman, two of three proposed new owners of the RELAC system, confirmed yesterday that they will attend the Wednesday, February 20, 2013 HCA Board of Directors meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Reston Community Center Lane Anne Rose Gallery.  Mark and Mike will be available during the Member Forum at the start of the meeting to discuss their plans, and to answer Hickory Cluster customer questions.  As always, the Member Forum portion of the HCA monthly meeting will be limited in duration to allow the Board to address many other important cluster business matters before adjourning.

Friday, February 8, 2013


According to a joint petition filed by Aqua Virginia, Inc. and Reston RELAC LLC with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) on November 2, 2012, Reston RELAC is proposing to become the new owner of Reston Lake Anne Air Conditioning (RELAC) Corporation.  On January 31, 2013, Aqua mailed a related public notice of the proposed transaction to all RELAC customers as required by the SCC.  Also according to the petition: 

Reston RELAC LLC is a partnership of Michael Coleman, Craig Nyman, and Mark Waddell.  Mike Coleman has operated and maintained the system for the past 11 years.  Craig Nyman worked for PEPCO for 14 years as a building energy and system improvement consultant.  And Mark Waddell has 30 years of computer operations and security experience, is a RELAC system customer in Wainwright Cluster, and is President of the new corporation.

The sale will maintain future viability of the RELAC system for benefit of its customers, it will continue low noise operations, and it will facilitate the addition of modern technology to become a showcase of renewable energy. 

RELAC will continue to provide service and charge the same rates under the same tariff terms and conditions as currently authorized.  The change will be transparent to customers who will receive uninterrupted service. 

The sale will also facilitate installation of two new evaporative cooling towers for the 2014 cooling season to greatly reduce dependence on Lake Anne water, to more completely control and enhance the cooling process, and to significantly improve the consistency of RELAC operations and tariff temperature performance.  Aqua delivered the towers late last year.

In addition, RELAC plans customer service improvements including complete end-to-end service with residential system inspections and equipment maintenance options, a dedicated customer website, and other outreach programs to provide RELAC information at cluster meetings and open houses.

And according to Mr. Waddell, who is also President of nearby Wainwright Cluster Association:  "We have been in discussions with Aqua Virginia for close to two years.  ... We feel that a local smaller company with a service phone that rings in Reston could operate and improve the RELAC system with no increase in rates."

See the RELAC page and a recent related cooling tower post on this website for additional information.

Monday, February 4, 2013


From the Fairfax County Dept. of Planning and Zoning today:  "Fairfax County Dept. of Transportation is holding a series of public meetings designed to gather public input on the proposed Dulles Rail bus service plan.  Please plan to attend one of the six scheduled meetings, or participate in an online chat to see and hear about this new service and provide your feedback."  

See the schedule of upcoming meetings and meeting presentations on the Fairfax County Reston Master Plan Special Study website.  Also see the Metrorail Redevelopment page on this HCA website for additional information.


From Blade Runners midday today:  "It appears we have another clipper headed our way this evening. Based on the forecast this may be a tad more severe than the others we have gotten this season.  Roadway Clearing : No Service planned.  Roadway ice control application: Service planned for this evening."

Saturday, January 26, 2013


From Blade Runners this morning:  "We took some time to drive by our properties this morning.  I am happy to report that the Magic Salt outperformed anything we saw.  There is a wintry mix scheduled for Monday morning.  Our feeling is that the residual salt will take care of this.  Therefore no service is planned unless the weather changes."

Friday, January 25, 2013


From Blade Runners this morning:  "As you know we are going to have another event this evening. This could be a similar event to what happened yesterday or could require plowing. We are preparing for either eventuality. There is some good residual ice control on most sites that will help with this storm.  Roadway Snow Plowing:  If accumulations reach 1 1/2 to 2 inches.  Roadway Magic Salt ice control treatment : This evening should plowing not be needed, Saturday afternoon/evening if plowing is needed."

Thursday, January 24, 2013


From Blade Runners this morning:  "We had 1/2 inch of snow overnight. Temperatures are going to remain below freezing through the day. In addition we have some weather coming in tomorrow. For this reason we plan to apply ice control today.  No roadway clearing/plowing planned at this time."