stood at half mast at the Terrorist Screening Center. These masts also carry
state flags of New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and cast shadows on the
centerlines of three stone markers on 9-11 at the instant of time of each attack.
Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco delivers "A
Day to Remember" Proclamation.
Meanwhile, American Legion
Post 180 hosted a simple, but moving ceremony under the shade of trees behind
the Freeman House.
The events of 13 years
ago were brought into sharp focus by a volunteer nurse who spent six weeks
at "The Pile", which was what the disaster crews grimly called the
debris which had been the New York Trade Center Twin Towers. Jane Davis recently
wrote a book, First Aid for Heroes,
about her experiences.
Keynote Speaker Jane Davis recalls her days
at Ground Zero.
|Vienna Choral Society
under direction of Jennifer Rodgers, provided the music, including an inspiring
rendition of "America the Beautiful."
Vienna Director of Planning and Zoning
Greg Hembree, the Town's Director of Planning and Zoning, has died
at age 60.
Hembree worked for Vienna since 1987, and was widely admired for a near photographic
memory of zoning and land use details, as well as the ability to reduce complex
issues to plain, understandable language. He had an expansive personality
and earned the trust that the Vienna government placed on his judgment.
Related story HERE.
An initiative to install three speed humps along Creek Crossing Road is underway,
and has made a great deal of progress over the summer.
Installing speed humps is not done on an ad hoc basis. Fairfax County has
specific tests and procedures, the last of which is a Yes-No vote by residents
who live in the area. In this case, the voting residents would comprise all
of Westbriar Zone G, plus all Fairfax County residents on both sides of the
road, several blocks deep, all the way up to Old Courthouse Road.
Speeding on Creek Crossing has been a perennial topic for those living on
or near this busy commuter route. However, this is the first time anyone has
ever really done anything about it. Task force leader, Westbriar's Micha Joffee,
has successfully advanced the project with the Fairfax County Department of
Transportation, and hopes to bring the issue to a vote, possibly this winter.
Ready for Traffic Calming?
Only the area residents can say.
Learn More about the Speed Hump Program
Community meeting: Westbriar Elementary School on
Tuesday, October 7, 7:30 PM
to learn more. Questions? Email
Learn the policy details
of Speed Humps
Find out if you are
an eligible voter
See where the proposed
humps would be located.
If you favor speed humps,
see what you
can do to help
Wu's Garden, a Vienna landmark
for many decades, closed its doors last winter, much to the sorrow of the
region's fans of Chinese food delux.
In its place, the steel structure
of a new building is rising quickly. When finished, it will be the home of
two new dining choices: Potbelly, and Zoe's Kitchen. Both are growing chains,
featuring fast, but made to order sandwiches, soups and salads. Potbelly is
decidedly American, but Zoe's has a Mediterranean slant. Both offer catering
as well as on-line ordering.
LEFT: A little
bit of Wu's Garden will stay behind. A portion of the original brick wall
just happened to fit into the new design, saving some construction costs
Last night it was standing room only as the Town Council heard from the public
their opinions on the Maple Avenue Corridor initiative. MAC is a framework
of zoning refinements, recommendations, and other incentives which will encourage
compact, pedestrian-oriented development, consistent with preserving Vienna's
unique small-town identity.
The MAC program was overwhelmingly popular with the more than two dozen citizens
who chose to speak. Among them were Vienna merchants, leaders in a variety
of commercial and citizen advocacy groups and associations, and a cross section
of citizens who simply live and shop in town.
Laine High noted that "the general success of the Church Street Vision
Project is the single largest argument for planning with a structured vision."
"Long overdue .... embrace the changes with a proactive stance,"
was how Dennis Couture put it. "It is an econmic incentive, turning a
travel route into a destination.... a Win-Win."
Carol Wolfand, owner of Vienna Paints, echoed these thoughts. "Sometimes,
the challenges that are given to us when we are creating something for the
future are difficult," she said. But "it's time for Vienna to step
in to the future."
Mike Gelb said it would "... make a good place even better."
Not all speakers were so positive. Roger Maamary was the least optimistic,
saying that the duty of the Town's elected leadership is to keep things exactly
as they are. "We have a perfect melting pot right now," he said.
Among those who were favorably impressed with, but not 100% sold on the MAC,
spoke to a number of possible drawbacks. One recurring issue was traffic,
and the fact that as Vienna becomes more attractive to development, the attendant
congestion and parking problems will get worse.
The basic features of the MAC program were outlined by (above,
L to R) Urban Consultant Elisabeth Lardner, Deputy Director of Planning
and Zoning Matt Flis, and Chairman of the MAC Steering Committee, Doug Noble.
Explanations of the program elements and their relationship to the overall
goals was made clear by graphical information on the Town Hall's new big screen
The vision is not new. The groundwork goes back decades and has been methodically
refined by many group efforts over the years.
At present, development along Maple Avenue is controlled by strip mall zoning
dating to the 1950's, and the Council and the citizens have had very little
say about the details of what was built or redeveloped. The MAC Zoning Option
is designed to achieve through architectual and citizen review, redevelopment
to maintain the uniqueness of Vienna.
One of the elements of the MAC initiative is the raising of the height limit
for new buildings from 3 stories to 4. The advisability of this change was
the subject of reticence of several speakers to fully endorse the plan.
Vienna already does have a few buildings exceeding three stories which were
erected by successful zoning appeals. By comparison, Herndon, Falls Church,
Leesburg, and Fairfax City all allow buildings taller than our proposed four
stories. Even with 4 stories, we will still be the short guy in the region.
The MAC framework is carefully considering perspective and human
scale. Tall buildings are not going to rise from the sidewalk, they will be
set back appropriately.
Public hearings are still open, and will reconvene on September
8. Meanwhile, you may write or email your opinion to the Council. Please look
over the whole plan, which can be found HERE.
FLIP meets FLC
Ad Hoc Group
Follin Lane Improvement
Follin Lane between Maple
Avenue and Wildwood Park is slated for an upgrade this fall under a grant
from the Virginia Department of Transportation. Between Echols Street and
the park, there already is curb, gutter and sidewalk on the west side. The
east side will have curb and gutter added. Between Echols and Maple Avenue,
however, the entire roadway will be revamped, which will close it down to
traffic for several months. The street will be widened five feet, enough for
two wide lanes or three regular lanes.
From Echols to Hine it
will be one lane in each way, as it is now. From Hine to Maple, northbound
traffic will divide into two narrower lanes, to prepare for either left or
right turns. This will enhance the traffic flow. Curbs and gutters will be
added, and a sidewalk will be constructed on one side.
On the surface, it would
appear to be a valuable addition to Vienna. At present, this stretch of road
is a green tunnel of tall trees on both sides that meet high overhead. On
each side of the road is a deep rocky ditch for storm water runoff. Dense
brush grows to the edges of the traffic lanes. As the front door for Vienna's
high tech campus, including its largest employer, Navy Federal Credit Union,
the road does not seem very appropriate.
Then there is safety:
Sight lines are poor for side street traffic. Cars crossing on Hine Street
usually have to nose out onto the road to see if the way is clear. About a
dozen accidents have occurred at this intersection in the last few years.
Forty homeowners along
the 1800 foot stretch of Follin are concerned about the proposed construction,
and have signed a petition for improved traffic safety measures. They feel
the project is inadequate both in planning and in sharing of details with
the nearby neighborhoods. At the August 18 Town Council meeting, the group's
leadership outlined their concerns, and requested that the plan be returned
to staff to be firmed up.
Speaking for the group,
Follin Lane Coalition, or FLC, Steve Skjei (pronounced Shay) outlined four
issues that need more attention.
On safety, FLC will be
petitioning the Vienna Traffic Safety Committee for more effective safety
enhancement measures than simply removing the brush.
storm water from the road surface, FLC wants to make sure that placing the runoff
in underground pipes will not adversely affect the drainage of the homes' backyards.
FLC wants the Town to
understand that many hundreds of cars each work day are going to be detoured
to Maple Avenue via Branch, Berry, East, Mashie, and Niblick, and to address
the impact on these neighborhoods. In addition, the group wants to make sure
that removal of existing trees on the right of way is held to the absolute
The homes along Mashie
Drive, which back up to Follin Lane are within the Westbriar Civic Association
Zone B. "Both FLIP and FLC are a good thing for the community,"
said Westbriar President John Shreffler. "I have been talking with Steve
and his group, and also helping to focus some of the issues with the Public
"As for the detour
period, yes, there will be impact. But I think the best way forward is to
keep up the Vienna Can Do spirit, and reflect that over our lifetime,
everyone is burdened about evenly by such infrastructure projects. The plan
is good and believe it will be well worth it."
on TWITTER Say, isn't that ....
||Vienna's erstwhile intrepid Patch reporter Erica
Hendry who was caught in a downsize two years ago? Yes, indeed.
|Erica is doing well, now applying her considerable talents to the Diane
Rehm and Kojo Nnambdi Shows at WAMU, when not editing for the Smithsonian Magazine.
A new era began in the unfolding of Tysons, as the Silver
Line opened this morning for its first day of passenger service.
It has been a long time coming, and lots of people showed
up for a ride on Day One. Just Because.
From the Top, at Spring Hill Station
From the Front
We chose the best view.
To see what we saw, Click HERE
for a 78 second ride from Ballston to Reston.
I tagged along with Westbriar's Dave Hicks and John Shreffler to become a
piece of that history as the first train left Spring Hill headed for Largo.
That's right, Largo: We now have Non-Stop service to the Redskins Stadium.
We picked up nifty silver pennants at the escalator, and engaged in friendly
banter with a smiling Metro Crew as we awaited the opening of the card readers
at 11:00 AM
Then it was Zoom! Same old Metro, different scenery. Cool!
We did a U-Turn at Falls Church East, and headed back.
While waiting on the platform, we ran into 5 year old Brady, who was a Metrophile
just like us. He was only too happy to show us the safety vest that his Mom
made for him, just for the occasion.
Also out for the First Ride were lots of folks who were instrumental in making
it all happen.
Clockwise from the lower left are Del. Ken Plum (Reston), Former VA Gov.
and Sen. Charles Robb. Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill), U.S. Rep. Gerry
Connolly, Supervisor John Foust (Dranesville), U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, and Fairfax
County Chairman Sharon Bulova.
saw the bright pass of the International Space Station last month, and
liked it. The next bright one is Saturday, August 22. We won't be making
any more announcements, but we will keep the ISS Predictor up to date. This
link is near the bottom of the third column. Click HERE.
Twilight Stroll at
Along with 48 other avid
nature freaks, I enjoyed a guided tour Sunday evening through our local treasure
trove, the Meadowlark
Gardens. Co-hosted by Park Manager Keith Tomlinson, and childhood advocate
author and lecturer, Jenifer Joy Madden, the tour was timed to take in the
peace and calm of day's end. Bird calls and frogs added some punctuation to
the relaxed and friendly company.
Jenifer made a convincing
case for letting children, at a very young age, experience the natural world
at every opportunity. "It is only through one's own senses that the world
can be understood," she said. "Curiosity and exploration, freedom
to follow random ideas is all important."
And a natural environment
like Meadowlark is an ideal place to make it happen.
the fish for other photos.
Keith filled in specifics
on park history, fauna and foliage species, maintenance, and plans. Meadowlark
is part of the Regional Park System,
which was developed privately by people who jointly realized the downside
to uncontrolled urbanization. They bought up and set aside land for such retreats.
The W&OD Trail is another of the Regional Park's Inventory.
A highlight of the tour
was the ringing of an enormous bronze bell in the Korean Garden. Normally
not heard except for Summer Solstice and diplomatic events, this is a sound
you will not forget. The bell weighs over two tons, and when struck on the
side by a large log suspended by chains, reverberates for over a minute.
1st in Vienna 7/14/14
The Freeman House is the first 3-D Vienna
building in Google Earth.
If you are familiar with the remarkable free computer program Google Earth,
this will be just a note of passing interest. But if you are not familiar,
and you download it, your life will be changed forever. You may start spending
all your waking hours learning more about our world than you ever thought
Virtually every square inch of the world has now been photographed in high
resolution, many times over. Google Earth puts all these photos onto a virtual
globe, and gives you the tools to fly anywhere, and zoom in on the details.
You can see your house and your car in the driveway. You can "drive"
down streets and experience the streetscapes in seamless photography.
You can also see 3 dimensional buildings from above. The Freeman House is
the first such building in Vienna. Note the caboose in the lower left is just
a blob on the ground, as is the roof of Dr. Gannon's office in the upper left.
But the Freeman House has been enhanced, and you can circle around it like
a bird, seeing all sides accurately from the point of view of your location
above it. Almost all large buildings in downtown Washington DC are now rendered
TRAFFIC LIGHT CONSIDERED
ON OLD COURTHOUSE ROAD 6/25/14
The Vienna Town Council is studying
a recommendation made by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to
install a traffic light at the intersection of Old Courthouse Road and Westbriar
Drive. This is one of three intersection items currently proposed.
The question is whether giving
Westbriar Drive light-controlled access to OCHR is really worth the cost involved.
A speed hump installed on OCHR near the intersection has been very helpful
in allowing access from Westbriar Drive.
What do YOU think? Do you feel
that a light at this intersection is a good investment? Let us know your thoughts.
Swearing-In Ceremony 6/16/16
May 6 election winners were sworn into office last night at the Vienna Town
Hall. At left, Mayor Laurie DiRocco takes the oath from Judge Brett Kassabian.
Also sworn in were Council Members Edythe Kelleher, Pasha Majdi, and Linda
The new officials begin their duties on July 1.
Notes from the County
Meals Tax? (update 6/24/14)
Probably Not ... at least for now
During deliberation on the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, a number of individuals
and organizations have urged Fairfax County to revisit a restaurant meals
tax. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, towns and cities are permitted to have
a meals tax subject to an affirmative vote by the governing body, and most
have done so. Counties, however, may establish a meals tax only if a referendum
is approved by the voters. The last time this proposal was put on the ballot
(unsuccessful) in Fairfax County was in April 1992.
There had been growing sentiment during recent years for Fairfax to once
again allow the voters to decide if they wish to avail themselves of this
additional source of revenue. Reasons for urging this include the desire to
diversify the revenues we have available to fund schools, public safety, parks,
libraries and human services. If a meals tax were adopted at the state-approved
rate of 4% of the cost of the meal cost, it would generate about $88 million
A Task Force of about forty county organizations and individuals, co-chaired
by former Board Chairmen Kate Hanley and Tom Davis, was convened by the Board
of Supervisors to study the issue and return with their recommendation on
June 17th. However the Task Force did not present a straight up recommendation.
Rather, they submitted an extensive report detailing the pros and cons of
instituting the meals tax. At this late date in an election year, and with
only tepid support on the Board, it is unlikely that the tax issue will move
forward this year.
Read more details in the Washington Post HERE.
CHILDREN's GARDEN FUTURE UNCERTAIN 5/20/14
One of the best kept secrets of Vienna is known to parents
of pre-schoolers who also happen to take excusions on the W&OD Trail.
It is a tiny whimsical garden located between the Caboose and the historical
Railroad Station, meticulously crafted and lovingly maintained for ten years
by the Ayr Hill Garden Club.
Garden is dedicated to Dorothy
McDiarmid, a Virginia Delegate for 20 years.
daughter is a past president of Ayr Hill Garden Club.
The Children's Discovery Garden is tucked away under a gigantic
mural depicting a railroad. It is a neatly manicured collection of plants
chosen specifically to stimulate the senses. There is lavender and rosemary
for the nose. There are tall spikey flowers with improbably shapes for the
eyes. There is aptly-named lamb's ear to delight the touch. And sprinkled
all around are the garden's denizens: bunny rabbits, bears, birds, and more.
There are surprises around every corner. For the basic three year old, it
is pretty much unbeatable.
But delightful and inspiring as it is, the garden is in trouble.
It is being eyed by the Town as a location to add some much needed parking
along Dominion Drive.
Ayr Hill Garden Club members
discuss their options.
L to R, Garden Chairman Kata Bartoloni-Tuazon, Club President Pamela Weiss,
and Anna Marie Mulvihill
The garden club does not disagree with the critical parking
problem, especially in summer when bikers and other trail users choose Vienna
as their access point.
"What we want is to keep the garden going," explained
club Presiden Pamela Weiss. "We want to work with the town to relocate
in a way that works best for everyone."
One solution that has promise is to move it into the area
around the Caboose, perhaps against the stone wall along Church Street. The
club is negotiating with Parks and Recreation Director, Cathy Salgado, to
see what can be done.
A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 2.
| Green Dot Scam More Active Than Ever 4/16/14
Police in Vienna and Fairfax have issued alerts on a growing problem: A scam
by which people are tricked or intimidated into buying a certain prepaid money
transfer card. The card most often used is the Paypal Green Dot card sold
by CVS Pharmacy, Walmart, and other popular businesses.
The scam is initiated by telephone, and there are many variations. For example,
the victim is told that he or she has won a huge prize, and must send in a
payment to cover taxes. Or the victim is told they missed showing up for jury
duty, and must send a payment to avoid arrest. Or the victim is told that
their grandchild is in jail in a foreign country, and he must send bail payment
to get the problem solved.
Another variation is on the internet. You will be browsing, and suddenly
a screen comes up that is very official looking, with FBI and Justice Department
Logos. It will claim you have looked at copyrighted materials, or listened
to music you had not paid for, or other violations. Your computer will be
frozen on that page. Your recouse is to ... you guessed it ... to go purchase
a Green Dot Money Card, and email the numbers to an address provided. Once
you email the money, your computer still does not function. More demands for
money are made.
The victim is told to
make payment with a prepaid money card such as this. It is untraceable.
REPORT ALL SUCH DEMANDS
FOR PAYMENT TO THE POLICE.
GONE FISHING! 3/29/14
Vienna Family Fishing Rodeo, a
new community event, kicked off March 29, at the newly restored Wolftrap Creek
in Wildwood Park, 700 block of Follin Lane SE.
Wolftrap Creek was stocked the day before with hundreds of trout just for
the occasion! Cathy Salgado and her staff from Vienna's Department of Parks
and Recreation organized the event, and worked with the Fairfax County Storm
Water Division, Fairfax County Public Works and Environmental Services, Virginia
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Navy Federal Credit Union to make
it all happen.
Click HERE for the full story.
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