Church Street Future Discussed

Church Street Future Discussed

Amid contract awarding and some Town housekeeping, Vienna Town Council members weighed in on two Church Street-related issues during Monday's meeting: pedestrian safety and signage.

Church Street, once Vienna's main street, had undergone renovation in recent years in order to capture the feel of turn of the century Vienna. Zoning and regulations must comply with guidelines set forth years ago by the Church Street Vision Committee.

In response to complaints by a pedestrian, the transportation safety commission presented the council with five options that would increase pedestrian safety at the crosswalk of Lawyers Road, N.W., near the Vienna post office. That crosswalk also intersects with Church Street.

The options presented by the vice chairman of the transportation safety commission included installing two "Yield to Pedestrian" bollards on the Lawyers Road crosswalk; painting white stripes on both of the crosswalks at the Lawyers/Church intersection; placing a "Yield to Pedestrian" sign on the stop sign at Church Street and Lawyers Road; installing flashing yellow lights on the west side of Lawyers between 204 Lawyers Road and the intersection at Walnut Lane; and installing two "Yield to Pedestrian" bollards on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail as it crosses Church Street.

"I felt for years we needed to do something for this intersection," councilman Vince Olson said.

COUNCILMAN AL BOUDREAU pointed out the speeding traffic that occurs on Lawyers Road. According to statistics he received from the Vienna police department, 85 percent of cars in the south lane were going over 25 mph, and 83 percent of cars in the north lane were going over 25 mph.

"These statistics on speed are kind of intriguing," Boudreau said.

One resident spoke in support of placing bollards on the street. Bollards, like the ones recently placed on Park Street near the W&OD Trail, are signs placed in the middle of the road, where the two yellow lines run. In New England where the resident had last lived, he said towns had placed bollards on their streets with success.

He said his wife often has to dodge traffic when she walks along Church Street.

"Pushing the stroller, it's precarious, and she's got to be very cautious," the resident said.

Because of the low price of $150 each to install the bollards, Boudreau made a motion to install them on Lawyers Road. Council members Boudreau, Olson, Mike Polychrones and Maud Robinson voted in favor of the bollards, while councilwoman Edythe Kelleher and Vienna mayor Jane Seeman voted against the item. Kelleher first wanted to see how effective the bollards were on Park Street, while Seeman was concerned about the impact the bollards would have on the historic aesthetics. Councilwoman Laurie Cole was absent from the meeting.

THE OTHER MEASURE approved by the council was to paint parallel white stripes on the crosswalks of the Lawyers/Church intersection. The vote was 5-1, with Robinson voting against the measure because she thought the white stripes would be painted on the wrong section of the crosswalk.

The remaining three measures on pedestrian safety were voted down by the council, 6-0.

Besides pedestrian safety, the council also discussed signage on Church Street. Beth Wiley, owner of the new business "Earth and Fire" of 144 Church Street, asked the council to grant two exceptions for her signage. The first was to place two window signs instead of the one allowed in order to create balance, and the second was to use gold vinyl for the lettering of the window sign, instead of gold leaf, which she said was more costly.

After several council members complimented Wiley on her sign's aesthetics, Robinson said she was torn between the gold leaf, which was more visually pleasing, and the white vinyl, which was cost effective. By using gold leaf vs. gold vinyl, the aesthetic is more historically accurate, Robinson said. Her main concern, however, was that Wiley's sign would set a precedent on how businesses along Church Street would comply with signage regulations, since Wiley's business would be among the first to fall under guidelines from the Church Street Vision Committee.

At the end, however, Robinson voted with her fellow council members to approve one window sign as presented, with gold vinyl. The vote was 6-0. The council also approved Earth and Fire's top sign 6-0.

"The sign is fine because it represents the style of the period," Olson said.