These Stories Appeared in the Crier, concerning the Save-the-Forest Campaign, May 2012 - January 2013

Tysons Corner Planning Meeting Held 5/8/12

An update on the status of Tysons Corner drew a capacity crowd May 8th at the Westbriar Elementary School. The meeting was hosted by the Greater Tysons Green Civic Association, which represents the homeowners directly abutting the Tysons Corner boundary on the west edge. Senior Fairfax County Planning and Zoning official, Matt Ladd provided an update on current status of approved and pending parcel developments, and described overall directions and parameters of the proposed transformation of Tysons Corner, anchored by the four Metro stations currently under construction.

Mr. Ladd empahsized that the development process will be slow, deliberate, and transparent, and allow for adequate citizen input at all stages. Each of the the Metro stations will be the focal point of high density construction, ranging up to 240 feet in height. This will produce a somewhat Roslyn-like skyline, which will be dominant from all points in Vienna having a view of the north eastern horizon. Existing roads, which have developed in a somewhat haphazard fashion over the decades, will be augmented and changed to a more urban cityscape of a conventional grid, with sidewalks, shop windows and street lights.

One of the earliest infrastructure upgrades, besides the Metro, will be to the electrical power. Tysons Corner, like most of Nothern Virginia, is powered from the high tension line which towers overhead along the W & OD Trail, more often called the Bike Path. A shunt to Tysons zig-zags across Vienna's north side, going though the back yards of Westbriar's Fairway and Woodford Drives, and on to a substation located on Tyco Road. The route of this power will not change, but a new substation is planned for the location just where the route enters the Tysons boundary. From this new substation, the plan calls for underground delivery of power to the existing Tyco Road facility.

Mr. Ladd touched on the planning for schools, athletic fields, pedestrian and bike access, and the mixed-use nature of new development. In evaluating proposals, the Planning Commission strongly favors commercial proposals which contain elements of public-oriented features, called "proffers". These might include, for example, fire stations, day care centers, pedestrian trails.

The transformation of Tyson's corner is a long term project, and will probably not be fully built-out until about 2050.

Of special interest to the Tysons Green Civic Association members, as well as to us here in Westbriar, is the narrow and fragile ribbon of woodland which forms a natural boundary between Tysons Corner and the homes to the west. At many stages of a lenthy question and answer period, residents raised questions related to this urban treasure. One of the most ominous issues is a proposal for an extension of Boone Boulevard from its present ending behind the old Hechinger property, (now Bed Bath and Beyond) to create a major traffic route out to a new exit ramp from the Dulles Access Road near the present toll booth. Mr. Ladd could not make a clear explanation of how this would be done without major destruction to this woodland.

In a future edition of the Westbriar Crier, we will explore this issue in more detail and attempt to determine the current official thinking regarding environmental protection.



Fairfax DOT Unveils New Dulles Access Road Exit Plan May 31, 2012

Fairfax County Department of Transportation officials met with area residents Thursday, May 31 at the Westbriar Elementary School to unveil their newly minted plans for an extra Dulles Tollway exit into Tysons Corner. The standing-room only crowd of about 250 was asked to submit their preference for one of these plans on ballots which were collected after the meeting. Unfortunately, the DOT had never anticipated a crowd of that size, and had brought only a small fraction of the necessary ballots.
Before the meeting began, residents were given the opportunity to move about the room to view drawings of the proposed exits, and to talk to the five DOT representatives present. The three plans presented by DOT engineer, Seyed Nabavi, are summarized below.

Plan 1. The Sheraton Wrap-Around

In this concept, a two lane flyover bridge to the westbound lanes would .... click HERE to read more

 

Westbriar Crier is interested in your opinion concerning the proposed destruction of Tyson Spring Run Woods. Please address comments to westbriarcivic@verizon.net Indicate if you would like your comments published in this newsletter. Or call us at 703-319-0840. So far, resident reactions to destroying the last Tysons Corner forest in favor of a highway ramp has been 100% negative.


Westbriar School Meeting Highlights 6/4/12

Well, if you missed it, it was not all that important after all: there was nothing more to learn about the forest ramp issue, and there was nobody with whom to meaningfully talk about it. For those that took Political Science 101, it was a pretty good rendition of Chapter 15: Control the Agenda by Controlling the Venue. For your convenience, Fairfax County has put the meeting on the web.

It was like walking into a Science Fair. About two dozen card tables were set up, with colorful posters, and smiling attendants passing out brochures and business cards. All that was missing was some elevator music. By moving down the line, you could learn about the Community Revitalization, Family Services, Information and Technology, Human Rights, Homelessness, Soil and Water, the Library, the Park Authority, the Planning Commission, the Dog Pound, the Friendly Garden Tour, etc. ... Your County, hard at work for you, arranged in four neat rows.

It was Light Fare Night. The tomato and egg splatters of last Thursday's food fight were all mopped up, the hapless Department of Transportation speakers nowhere to be found. The DOT card table was minded by a new face who had no clue. The jumbo computer maps of the exits were tucked away. Click to read more

The Washington Post weighs in on Tysons Corner Forest Destruction Plan



The Looming Boone-Doggle

Be careful when you seek advice. You will be receiving only the product of the experiences of the person offering. With a bit of exaggeration to make my point, suppose you have a toothache. Your grandmother would say peppermint oil on a Q-tip. A lawyer would have you sue someone rich. A decorator might suggest changing the color of the room. Your mechanic might suggest new sparkplugs. And so on.

When it comes to the future of the last remaining old growth forest within Tysons Corner, the Fairfax Planning Commission asked the advice of ........ (drum roll) ......... wait for it....... The Fairfax Department of Transportation. What is wrong with this picture?
Lots, really
... Click HERE to read more

What is the REAL reason for Boone Blvd Extension?
by John Freudiger, Westbriar Resident

I'd like to know the excuse that they are using for building the Boone Blvd extension and who is pushing the plan. If the excuse is to ease traffic on Route 7 and the Toll Road, the extension won't be needed, for a number of reasons: First, the tolls are scheduled to increase dramatically soon even if the Dulles Rail isn't extended to the Airport, and most people that I know won't be using the Toll Road when that happens. They will be using Beulah, Old Courthouse Road, Route 7, Old Dominion Drive and Georgetown Pike, so we don't need another exit off the toll road. Just like the Dulles Greenway, the Toll Road will see a lot less traffic than it would if the tolls were reasonable. Secondly, Click to read MORE

 

A Wrong Direction
by David Shue, Westbriar Resident

The supposed reason for the extension of Boone Blvd is to relieve traffic on Route 7. For a planner to say this is absurd. The area around the Metro was widened to eliminate the service road (necessary to get the space for Metro) but not widened enough to add another lane to Route 7. So it is an excuse to grab an alternative. It doesn't fit the traffic facts at Tysons. Has a traffic study been done that describes traffic at rush hour on Gosnell? Has a traffic study been done to examine an at-grade intersection for Route 123 and Boone Blvd? If it had, anyone who knows the area knows that the Tysons area becomes backed up almost to the point of gridlock. Another new intersection would make it truly gridlock.

Try Boone Blvd and International Drive and see how long it backs up. The planners have laid an egg. Yes, transportation in the area needs alternatives. But this is not it.

I had imagined that the Dulles exit and the road would be on stilts thus making moribund the area destroying the estuary and an ecological separation between commercial and residential. Animals still depend on this area and its water. Putting runoff into a culvert is a terrible answer wasting a resource and the planners admit that they will have at least 8 times the peak runoff without the forest absorbtion. Absurd.

To keep the area from becoming a traffic disaster, a Boone extension should be built on stilts over Gosnell, over Route 123 and put then onto Boone Blvd. Even this is a bad choice if you look at rush hour traffic on Boone Blvd. It backs up two to three blocks (that is what I observe when I drive it at 3:30 to 4:00 PM on the way home). This idea will not relieve anything, it will only add to congestion. To me it makes far more sense to widen Route 7.

Just because green land, however small, exists, it is not an excuse for a planner to make a power grab and build something that is not in the interests of the residents or the County. The planners seem to have illusions of New York City in mind. Even the asphalt planners left Central Park to provide green space. A New York City traffic matrix is not what I have in my mind as an ideal, but that is what the planners are dreaming about. Tysons is far too hilly and has too many existing facts on the ground to start thinking about a New York style street grid.

Lets talk about the residents that will be uprooted. The houses/apartments behind Radio Shack and the 40 unit apartment building across the way will have to be eliminated. Displacing residents to create alternative traffic routes (that won't work) is hardly a good thing. Widen Route 7 instead, and problem solved.

David S. Shue
106 Saint Bernard Drive
Vienna


Westbriar Joins Coalition on Tysons Corner Forest Issue
8/15/12

Our civic association has been invited into a coalition of local civic and home owner groups which was formed to persuade the Fairfax County government to rethink a recent Department of Transportation proposed option.

This option would destroy the thin ribbon of forest that surrounds the western edge of Tysons Corner, and replace it with a new exit ramp to serve the commercial area where the Best Buy is located.

The forest issue has been covered here in the Crier since it became public three months ago. You may scroll down a few stories to see the details of the proposal, as it was previewed on May 8, and officially disclosed on May 31.

"On behalf of Westbriar, I have accepted this invitation because I feel the arguments for sparing this fragile and beautiful forest and stream are well founded", said John Shreffler, Westbriar president. "I believe most, if not all, of our entire 433 homeowner membership does also. At least in the feedback I have received, not one person has expressed support for the destruction of the forest, even if it solved some future traffic problems."

 

Save the Forest Coalition fires shot over Fairfax County bow 8/23/12

The Coalition to Save Tysons Corner Forest has sent on August 23 a strongly-worded letter to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and other relevant departments requesting that a proposal presented by the Department of Transportation involving the Tysons Spring Run forest be summarily dropped from further consideration.

Following the unveiling of the DOT plan on May 31 at the Westbriar Elementary School, stunned residents of surrounding neighborhoods were at first slow to react. There was informal chat across the fence, and some meetings of Home Owners Associations, but it took a while to realize how deeply the plan had struck a common nerve.

"We owe it to the future generations and to future residents of Tysons Corner", said Pam Konde, president of the Greater Tysons Green Civic Association, part of which borders againt the Tysons Spring forest. Konde identified local community leaders, got out the word, and chaired two well-attended meeting in the last six weeks to map out a strategy to bring to the attention of Fairfax government the unanimous feelings of other surrounding civic associations. Westbriar Civic Association has become part of this coalition, with 100% membership approval.

The coalition has developed and published a website to tell its story. The website will be under continual development as the issue and events evolve. It makes an appeal for help from the public through a number of practical steps. We strongly urge our membership to visit the site, learn the issues, see who the coalition members are, and do what you can to support the coalition's goals.

The entire letter can be seen at the coalition website.

 

Fairfax County Hangs Tight to DOT Forest Destruction Proposal 9/15/12

Three weeks ago, the Coalition to Save Tysons Corner Forest sent a letter to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, asking that they remove from further consideration the Fairfax County Department of Transportation's proposal to use the protected parkland as an exit from the Dulles Access Road. Last week, the coalition followed up on this request by meeting with county officials.

On the evening of September 12, Coalition Leader Pam Konde, accompanied by six civic association leaders met with Dranesville Supervisor John W. Foust in his McLean office. Konde laid out the coalition's basic points: The Tysons Corner Comprehensive Plan had accepted the park as a key element of its urban livability parameters; the land was acquired through deeds that directed unqualified protection; and a highly critical report by the County's Park Authority that enumerated a number of flaws in the conception of the proposal, plus various legal and regulatory hurdles that must be overcome.

Supervisor Foust expressed understanding of the Coalition's points, but indicated that the county was engaged in a process of evaluation of four possible exit ramp proposals, and said that it may not be appropriate at this time to attempt to intervene. Foust indicated that Federal funding procedures require evidence that a thorough evaluation of all possibilites have been considered. In addition to the forest route, the FCDOT is considering intersections at the Sheraton Hotel, Greensboro, and Jones Branch Drives. Foust said he was "not an advocate of the forest route".

On September 14, the Coalition met with County Supervisor Sharon Bulova and three representatives of the FCDOT. Again, Konde reviewed the documents and Comprehensive Plan sections that the Coalition feels should be sufficient to render the protected forest destruction a non-starter. However, the result was much like the Foust meeting: a process has been started, and needs to be seen through to the end. Chairman Bulova did say that the thought of voting to destoy the forest would give her "heartburn".

The coaltion presented Supervisor Bulova with the printout of over 500 responders to the on-line petition. The petition allows each person the ability to say exactly why they are signing.

FCDOT representative Karyn Moreland indicated that the forest route was "best from a transportation standpoint, but worst environmentally". She said the FCDOT was aware of the functions of the forest in retaining runoff and mitigating flooding downstream. Coalition member John Shreffler asked the group if anyone had personally been in the forest. Nobody in the Fairfax County government, it seems, has been.

The FCDOT will be conducting another round of community meetings later this fall, and expect to bring the results of the study to the Board of Supervisors in late 2012 or early 2013.

The coalition has scheduled more meetings with County officials in the weeks ahead. A Coalition block party is being organized for Saturday, September 29 near the park at Irvin Street. Watch the Crier for more details.

Two more subdivisions have recently joined the Coalition.

Please stop by and register your support.

 

 

Party Time in Tysons Green 9/29/12

There are few better ways to have a good time than having fun. And this group knows how to do that. It was serious fun, however. It had a theme. And that was to get together to talk about a possible end to the Tysons Spring Branch Run and its beautiful forest. The party had a little of everything. The weatherman even chipped in a gorgeous early autumn day.

It had food. Great food, and plenty of it, a potluck delux.

And smoke, as host Dean Manson stoked the fire and kept the burgers and hot dogs coming non-stop

And Art... the kids made up posters to tell the story.

And Dogs .... ever alert for a dropped morsel.

And Education

A huge official Fairfax DOT drawing of the proposed forest ramp

And Music

Above and Beyond DJ kept a lively beat


But the best part was probably right here.

That is the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, Sharon Bulova on the left, accompanied by the Save the Forest Coalition Chairman Pam Konde. They are strolling down the narrow pedestrian and bike path, Ashgrove Lane, down into the center of the forest.

What is the big deal? Bulova is believed to be the very first person in either the Supervisory offices or the Department of Transportation to have ever personally seen the Tysons Spring Run forest. The highway ramp project has been up to this moment something technical, remote, not real.

When she later addressed the group, Bulova said she "really needed that". Hey, same here, we all felt.
A special moment.


Giving new meaning to Fairfax Leadership ...

We were also honored to have with us Hunter Mill Supervior Cathy Hudgins, VA Delegates Barbara Comstock and Mark Keam, VA Senator Chap Petersen, and Vienna Council Member Carey Sienicki.

See more party photos .... lots more HERE.

 

 

Supervisor Hudgins Supports Save the Forest 11/20/12

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins introduced a motion in the November 20 session to urge fellow Board members to look carefully at the environmental damages inherrent in one of the options being studied by the Fairfax Department of Transportation. A total of four proposals are being studied to bring additional traffic into the evolving Tysons, one of which destroys the last remaining forested area. More Information. Not only would the forest be destroyed, but the entire rain runoff from the west side of Tysons would of necessity be encased in underground culverts and sent unabatedly crashing in to downstream developments such as Carrington and Wolftrap. Without the benefit of the water-absorbtion of the forest floor, downstream flooding would worsen.

The FCDOT studies are expected to be complete by January 15. While Hudgins' proposal did not remove the forest route from consideration, the move did serve to alert the FCDOT that there was more at play here than simply moving cars. The 16 member Coalition to Save the Forest applauds Ms Hudgins for her sensitivity to the larger picture. She and some other Board members have spent time getting first hand information. In the end, her motion passed by vote of 6 to 1, with 3 abstensions.
See related story in the

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has expressed in no uncertain terms that she understands that whatever one does or does not do to any part of the watershed will have consequences for everyone downstream. "It's a no-brainer" said Hudgins, who is expected to introduce measures to have FCDOT remove from further consideration the concept of destroying the Tysons forest. Her Hunter Mill District encompasses not only all of Vienna, but also the forest, and this Beulah Road bridge.


VICTORY! 1/16/13


Pam Konde expresses the mood of the Save the Forest Coalition at a party last night at the Maplewood Cafe in Vienna.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday afternoon to remove from further consideration a Tysons exit ramp which would have largely removed the last forest from the area. The forest contains one of the headwater streams of the Difficult Run, which joins the Potomac River near Great Falls.

Soon after the forest route was unveiled by the Department of Transportation last May, an ad hoc group of community organizations joined forces to oppose this site for the highway exit. The Coalition to Save Tysons Last Forest, headed by Pam Konde, President of Greater Tysons Green Civic Association, quickly grew into a formidable advocate for the forest, with a membership of over two thousand homes. The Westbriar Civic Association was part of the effort.

 

By working tirelessly with county, state, and national leaders, the Coalition put together a solid case for the protection of the sensitive watershed area. "It was never a sure thing," said Coalition member NS Rana, who created and maintained a website that informed the public and charted the progress. "But at a certain point last fall, things started to really come together."

The Coalition plans to stay together and work further with the Tysons Planning Committe to protect and improve the forest. A clean up operation is scheduled for this spring, and various trails and other improvements are being studied. "The forest is a valuable asset to the new city," said Konde. "It is truly the Central Park of Tysons. The County has made the right decision."

Don't miss Tom Jackman's story in the Washington Post.

 

Tysons Woods Gets its Annual Clean Up 4/6/13

Tysons Woods friends and neighbors teamed up today with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to clean up the Tysons Spring Branch Run. This tributary of the Potomac River was recently spared by Fairfax County from becoming an exit ramp from the Dulles Tollway.

A cool, sunny, early spring morning brought dozens of volunteers out to enjoy the wild daffodils, the hammering of woodpeckers, and the company of a family of deer. But, armed with blue bags, they were there for business.

Without an annual grooming, the forest would become a catch basin for litter, something that the neighborhood refuses to allow. Much of the litter comes from the huge paved parking lots of Pike 7 Plaza,

and Marshalls. A carelessly discarded gum wrapper, an errant plastic shopping bag, a stomped coffee cup, all get washed quickly down the storm drains, and are in the woods minutes after a rain shower.

This is an environmentally sensitive area, and the neighbors are working on ways to get the word out on being litter aware.