21 Aug 2014
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Is Better Lighting Key To Enhancing Safety at Hunters Woods Village Center?

Community organizations discussing ways to improve lighting, deter crime and make plaza more inviting.

Is Better Lighting Key To Enhancing Safety at Hunters Woods Village Center? Is Better Lighting Key To Enhancing Safety at Hunters Woods Village Center?
Crime, litter and loitering are all issues at Hunters Woods Village Center, and an informal task force met on Wednesday as part of an effort to clean up the shopping plaza.

The task force is made up of representatives from Reston Community Center, Fairfax County, Edens (the shopping center owners), Fairfax County Police, Reston Association, Cornerstones (Reston Interfaith) and several faith-based groups, among others.

The group met last month in an effort to pool ideas and resources into making Hunters Woods more inviting and safer. On Wednesday, they members were back to exchange ideas and listen to suggestions from Edens and Reston Association on projects in the works.

Becky Hannon, a representative from Edens, said Hunters Woods is still undergoing renovation, which highlights the company's commitment to he community.

"We have committed a lot of time and funds in redeveloping," she said. "Hunters Woods has the ability to pull in Reston and be a meeting place."

Still to come, said Hannon, improved lighting and seating for the plaza. Hannon said sconce lighting will be installed next month, which will make the shopping center, as well as the open area in front of Reston Community Center, better lit.

"We want this area here (in front of RCC) to be the 'third place' where you can gather," she said. "We need to have a place where people feel safe and comfortable."

New trash cans will be installed, as will new benches, said Hannon.

A task force member asked if benches will be built so as to discourage sleeping by homeless people.

Hannon said Edens looked into benches with a bar across the middle, but in the end that style may be discrimination against larger people who just want to sit. Additional lighting may have an impact on the homeless sleeping situation, she said.

There is also a proposal to move the tables and chairs from in front of Safeway to the open area of the plaza, said Hannon.

Leila Gordon, executive director of RCC, said one of her organizations top concerns has been lighting.

"We have emphasized we are very concerned about lighting," she said. "Not so much to the midpoint of the parking lot, but the corridor between Buffalo Wings and RCC. It could use more physical improvements in terms of lighting but also ongoing replacement of burned-out bulbs."

Reston Association is hoping to work with Edens on lighting improvements as well.

The paths near Hunters Woods are RA property and have been the site of several assaults, robberies and intimidation - particularly of elderly Hunters Woods Fellowship House residents - recently.

Acting RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said she has suggested to the RA Board to include pathway lighting improvements in the 2014 budget, which is currently being organized.

Fulkerson suggests adding lighting to 4,601 feet of nearby paths that lead to Hunters Woods. The anticipated cost would be $125,000, and she is also hoping Edens would work with RA to help absorb some of the costs.

The following are 2014/2015 Budget Initiatives under consideration by the RA Board:

Fulkerson also suggests new trail markings  on the “Green Loop” (3.3 miles, with an anticipated cost of just under $5,000 to mark the trail) and the the “Purple Loop” (4.56 miles, with an anticipated cost of about $5,500 to mark the trail).  (See PDF attached to this story).

"This would improve safety coming to the center," said Fulkerson, who asked that the task force members and community members write to the RA board or attend an upcoming meeting to ask to make the lighting a priority.

The next RA meeting is 7 p.m. on Sept. 12 at RA Headquarters, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr. Public comments are at the start of the meeting.

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