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The History of RA Pool & Tennis Passes

Message From CEO, Cate Fulkerson

  • 6 March 2017
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The History of RA Pool & Tennis Passes

Many of you have shared some concern regarding the Reston Association’s new Pool & Tennis Pass program, especially as it pertains to providing photos for your family’s pool passes.

A History

Over Reston Association’s history, Pool & Tennis Passes have taken several forms. Many long-time Restonians will remember that from the 1970s to the early 1990s, all passes included a photo and were required to be shown upon entry into the facility. The cost to members to access pool and tennis facilities at this time ranged from $150 to $400. These fees were used to maintain and staff the facilities. However, in 1990 the RA Board of Directors decided to “roll in” to the Annual Assessment the cost of maintenance and staffing, thereby providing any RA member, regardless of economic level, better access to the pool and tennis facilities. Those individuals who wished to use the amenities still needed to purchase a pass, but at a nominal fee.

At about the same time, many families living outside of RA began to express a growing interest in using RA facilities. The RA board saw this as a revenue-generating opportunity and determined to allow non-RA residents to have access to RA pools and tennis facilities for a fee equal to or higher than the amount annually paid by RA Members through the assessment. To distinguish RA members from non-members, it was decided that the non-member cards would retain the photo.

The “roll in” decision made by the RA board was significant, as it increased the number of RA members who could access the facilities, which in turn increased the number of passes issued.

Due to the expenses related to purchasing the materials and equipment required to issue photo passes to a population nearing 30,000, the association decided to move away from issuing photo passes in 1991 and instead use a card system that only showed the individual’s name, address, phone number and date of birth.

Over the past 25 years, there have been many instances where non-members were able to use or even purchase non-member passes – at a greatly reduced rate — to gain entry into RA facilities. More specifically, violators were circumventing the need to pay their fair share by “borrowing” RA member passes.

A New Chapter

In an effort to reduce the expenses related to annually issuing passes and obtain more accurate information about pool and tennis facility usage, the RA board directed staff in 2012 to search for a new pool and tennis pass entry system. After a great deal of best practices benchmarking and research, RA staff presented and received approval from the RA board for a new system, WebTrac, that was responsive to their original request from 2012.

The system uses photos to validate whether the person requesting entrance in to an RA pool or tennis facility is the actual pass holder. This is an important improvement, as it will significantly decrease the problem of pass-sharing. The association’s new WebTrac system will allow passes to be scanned at the pools, a capability the association has not had in the past. This year, two pools will be piloting scanning technology with the goal of having this capacity at all RA pools by the end of 2018.

To clarify, unlike the passes issued prior to the 1990s, individual photos are not printed directly on your passes or distributed but instead are uploaded to an individual’s online WebTrac account. Furthermore, these passes will no longer have private personal information such as address and phone number printed on the card.

Patrons will scan into the pool with a device that is directly tied into the RA WebTrac member database and their photo will appear on a screen so RA staff can verify the pass holder’s identity. Staff will be trained to verify the identity of the member in front of them with the photo that appears on the screen. This is being done to help prevent invalid and improper uses of the passes.

In benchmarking, we learned that this facility entry method is currently in use by the Reston Community Center, the Fairfax County Park Authority and other recreation centers/gyms. The association believes that this system will better protect the value of RA members’ assessments by improving the way in which we verify the identities of patrons using RA pools and tennis courts.

Should you still wish to opt-out of providing photos for your passes, please contact our Member Services team at 703-435-6530 or by email Member_Services@reston.org with your name and address, and we will update your account accordingly. Please note, when choosing this option, the adults in your household will be required to show a photo ID matching the name and address on the pass. Youth pass holders will not be required to show an ID.

This spring, the Board of Directors will be considering its policy on the information required for and associated with pool and tennis pass issuance. You are welcome and encouraged to attend the board meetings and provide comments.

I hope this history and information is helpful. As a Reston Association member and 40-year Pool & Tennis Pass holder, I value the concerns and perspectives of my neighbors and welcome constructive feedback on how we can advance our community in positive new directions.

Cate L. Fulkerson
Reston Association CEO
40-year resident of Reston focused on trees, trails, and thoughtful design; committed to making Reston the best it can be and giving you the best value possible for your assessment dollars.

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