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Oct 04

‘Vibrant Streets’ of Vienna?

Posted to Council Corner on October 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM by Kirstyn Barr

Heather Arnold of the design firm streetsense recently presented the “Vibrant Streets” concept to a rapt audience interested in learning how it could be applied along Richmond Highway, and I was fortunate enough to be there. As she listed the eight factors that need to be in place, I mentally checked off each one as it applied to Vienna. They are, in order of priority: 

  1. Is it an organized environment? (Check: We have the Vienna Business Association and the Town Business Liaison Commission.)
  2. Is retail appropriate? (Check: Vienna already has a robust retail community.)
  3. Is the mix of retail tenants good? (Check: There is a variety of merchants in Vienna.)
  4. Is it perceived as safe? (Does this one really need to be answered?)
  5. Is it championed with public and/or private infrastructure investment? (Check: The Town has installed a special streetscape, and has long-term plans to complete Maple Avenue.)
  6. Is it anchored by civic and cultural uses? (Check: There is a library, Town Green, Freeman Store and Jammin’ Java is a private performing arts facility.)
  7. Is it walkable and connected to neighborhoods? (Check: Adjacent residential neighborhoods, sidewalks and a trail exist, and our proposed new zoning district has the potential to create more dwellings in walking distance.)
  8. Do people have reason to go there for more than one retailer? (Check: People routinely stop at the grocery store, drug store, dry cleaners, etc. in the same trip.)

Looking at new development in Fairfax County, no one is rezoning to commercial use anymore. Mixed-use is happening everywhere, segregation of land uses is dying nationwide. People no longer want to be isolated in suburban enclaves; they want the convenience of nearby transportation and services.

Vienna is well-situated to provide the best of all worlds, with single family homes and the potential for mixed-use developments. The work of the Maple Avenue Steering Committee and citizen feedback seem to be taking us in that direction. I eagerly await the final recommendations.

Edythe Frankel Kelleher
Town Councilmember

Mar 29

Celebrating Joy of Service in Vienna

Posted to Council Corner on March 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM by Kirstyn Barr

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” -1913 Nobel Laureate, Tagore

I share this quote with you, as I believe the most fundamental element that differentiates Vienna from other communities in our area are the many great examples of the joy found in service. Join us at this month's "Vienna at your Service," as we cheerfully honor some of our citizen volunteers at a reception. This event is a magnificent tradition here in Vienna.

Just as spring is in full blossom, let it be a catalyst for you to awaken, too. Show YOUR true colors: Get involved and enjoy your fellow citizens in a favorite activity. If you have not been involved, you would be amazed how rewarding participating in the community can be. Everyone indeed has something positive to share.

Why volunteer? The old adage is still true: "Many hands make light work." If everyone could provide a small investment in their time, treasure or talent, imagine the many gifts that could be harvested. Here are just some of the benefits:
  • Emotional Reward: satisfaction and pride come from helping others.
  • Strength: when a community is doing well as a whole, its individuals are better off, too.
  • Learning: with every new experience or responsibility, comes new knowledge. 
  • Tolerance: cooperate with people of different backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, ages, education and income levels toward a common goal. 
  • Appreciation: helping others or supporting causes that make a positive impact, reveals all the remarkable things in our own life.
  • Positive Impact: A wonderful, empowering message is that YOU ARE important enough to have an impact and YOU CAN make a difference.
So, what can I do? Vienna is rich with opportunities. Here are just a few examples: look, listen, act, read, support, inform (and be informed), meet, greet, share, beautify, smile, teach, recycle, vote, clean, attend a meeting, participate in a Town event, project, service organization, department, Committee or Board.

If you are already involved, Thanks! You may even consider expanding what you do. Anyone can make a positive change: identify something you enjoy in the community to fulfill a need. The future of the Town of Vienna starts with!

Carey J. Sienicki
Vienna Town Council Member
Jan 30

Why does the Town of Vienna need a Maple Avenue Vision?

Posted to Council Corner on January 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM by Kirstyn Barr

I have heard residents say, “I like the Town just the way it is. I don’t want it to change.” The reality is our Town will continue to grow and change, whether we create a Maple Avenue Vision or not. Everything from traffic to the restaurants and businesses we attract, to the look of the Town will be affected by the development (or lack of development) that occurs. The question becomes does the Town want to proactively effect the change and have the change happen in a way that is conducive to Vienna’s small-town-feel. A Maple Avenue Vision would establish what future redevelopment could look like along this main corridor in the coming years. The Town did something similar with Church Street a number of years ago. It would include such items as architectural features, community gathering spaces, streetscape, historical features, environmental considerations, code changes and transportation options.

Here are some reasons why the Town needs a Maple Avenue Vision. First, Tysons Corner, which is situated directly next to the Town, is being redeveloped into a large urban center over the next twenty years. There will be many developers considering projects in the area. Since most residents do not want to redevelop like Tysons Corner, it would be good to have a Maple Avenue Vision in place so developers are clear about the Town’s plans for our commercial area. Second, much of the Town Building Code is over thirty years old and needs to be re-examined and updated. Third, some buildings along Maple Avenue are ready for redevelopment but property owners are unsure how to proceed. A Maple Avenue Vision would be an incentive for owners to redevelop older properties. Fourth, a Maple Avenue Vision would allow for an expansion of our commercial businesses. This brings in tax revenue from sources other than residential real estate taxes. Fifth, Vienna is a unique destination in a large and roughly homogeneous County. We would like to maintain our uniqueness and small-town-feel, but keep Vienna vibrant with modern restaurants, shops and facilities, as well as thriving businesses. A Maple Avenue Vision allows us this opportunity.

The Town is in the process of hiring a consultant to utilize the many years of studies and materials the Town has developed on a potential Maple Avenue Vision, as well as current ideas, to formulate a vision and plan. The vision will be presented to the Town’s Boards and Commissions, and there will be public hearings on the proposal. Look for updates and information about the Maple Avenue Vision on the Town’s website in the coming weeks. If you have questions about Maple Avenue Vision, please contact the Town’s Planning and Zoning Department at Town Hall. I am proposing that 2012 be the year of the Maple Avenue Vision!

Laurie DiRocco
Vienna Town Councilmember