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911 Remembered

Flags 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."


New 9/11/14

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.

NEW 8/27/14

..... if
want them.

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.

Creek Crossing Road
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

Click HERE 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

Going Up
Wu's Garden?

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


Well-Received 8/19/14

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 monitors.

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

Westbriar Homeowner
Ad Hoc Group
Urges Caution in
Follin Lane Improvement
Project (FLIP)

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.

Regarding 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 minimum.

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 Works personnel.

"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."

SPOTTED 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.

by Leon

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.

Photo courtesy of WMATA

ISS Note Several readers 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 Meadowlark 7/20/14 by Leon

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.

Click 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.

Freeman House
1st in Vienna

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 possible.

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 in 3-D.



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. Email us.

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 Colbert.

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 annually.

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.



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.

The Discovery Garden is dedicated to Dorothy McDiarmid, a Virginia Delegate for 20 years.

McDiarmid's 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.



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.


Vienna VA

Fairfax County

Hunter Mill District

Cathy Hudgins


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