The Vienna Town Council election will occur on Tuesday, May 6. Three seats are open, with one Council member running for re-election. The terms begin July 1. All registered town voters are encouraged to vote.
The Town Council, composed of the mayor and six Council members, establishes town policies, passes ordinances and resolutions, approves the town budget, sets tax rates, approves land-use plans and makes appointments to town boards and commissions. Council members are elected on a nonpartisan basis and serve in two-year terms. The mayor is the ceremonial head of the Council and directs Town Council meetings but has the same rights and responsibilities as other members of Council.
Below are two questions The Connection recently posed to the candidates:
How would you improve traffic flow in Vienna?
I would improve traffic flow through greater enforcement of our existing traffic laws, continuing efforts for better synchronization of traffic lights on the arterial streets and alternative means of transportation. I am an advocate for a shuttle system between the Vienna Metro Station, Vienna and the Tysons Corner area. In addition, I would be remiss by not stating neighborhood traffic safety needs to continually be addressed. Through the proper utilization of traffic-calming measures recommended by the Transportation Safety Board, with the approval of residents, we can make our residential streets safe for all. All of these measures combined would assist in our efforts for traffic flow and a safer Vienna.
Strict police enforcement is primary in controlling speeding through neighborhoods. To accomplish this, Vienna needs to hire additional police officers. If judges will not fine drivers going up to 10 miles over the limit, perhaps it is time to get new judges. Speed humps are helping in some neighborhoods, but many more are needed. If they are constructed to allow drivers to pass at or below the speed limit, they should pose no problem for law-abiding motorists. Once a child is struck, it is too late to say, "I'm sorry." Traffic must flow but not speed.
We need to take a comprehensive approach to traffic, including discussions with county officials, to identify strategies that help all the residents of Vienna. As a first step, we need to examine data already collected by the town on traffic speed and volume, and use traffic guidelines such as those compiled by American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials to factually determine which Vienna roads are overloaded and at what times the overloading occurs. With this analysis in hand, we can begin to develop strategies that take us beyond ad hoc responses to problems on a specific block or street. Block-by-block approaches run the risk of merely diverting a traffic problem from one neighborhood to another.
An inadequate transportation system has a deleterious effect on the Town of Vienna. Transportation issues must be addressed both on a regional basis and by the town. Speeding and cut-through traffic in our neighborhoods is a common by-product of this issue. Young families with children are especially concerned with this problem. Increased enforcement and research to identify additional traffic-calming must be found and funded. Attention to pedestrian safety issues should also be addressed.
Maud Robinson, incumbent
The traffic lights on Maple Avenue (Route 123) were properly synchronized over a year ago, and traffic improved. The Town received many favorable comments. However, no system is perfect, and occasionally a light will get out of sync. Careful monitoring of the lights is essential. Vienna cannot stem the flood of traffic coming through town.
Improving traffic flow - particularly on Maple Avenue - is one of the most frequent concerns I’ve heard from talking with citizens across Vienna. To deal with 50,000 cars per day - and more in the future - I would explore both innovative local solutions (real-time advanced traffic management techniques, better signal-light synchronization, improved public transit, pedestrian enhancements and extended turn lanes) and "common sense" approaches - quality road maintenance, pavement markings and traffic enforcement. I also believe Vienna must have strong representation on Fairfax County, regional and commonwealth transportation-management boards seeking regional solutions and funding to solve our local congestion problems.
What suggestions do you have for revitalizing Maple Avenue?
My vision of downtown includes a partnership with the business community to make Vienna a viable commercial enterprise where businesses can flourish and prosper. A shuttle system within Vienna and the surrounding areas would not only relieve traffic congestion but also bring customers to shop and enjoy our great restaurants. It would give our businesses an economic boast, thus encouraging other quality businesses to relocate to Vienna. I would also not be opposed to a downtown parking garage to alleviate the parking problems associated with those wishing to patronize our local businesses. I feel our Town Council should look toward allowing developers of commercial space some latitude to develop a vision, as long as it doesn't detract from the overall quality of our downtown area.
Re-timing of traffic lights in keeping with 25 mph speed limits would allow traffic to flow through the entire town without stopping. Possibly eliminating left turns during rush hours would open another lane, providing three lanes eastward during morning rush and three westward during evening rush. Possibly a bridge or tunnel at the bike path would allow hikers/bikers to cross unhindered while not impeding motorists. The town needs to attract new businesses to Maple Avenue, especially men's and women's clothing stores and a hardware store.
I favor more mixed-use residential and commercial projects, architecturally similar to the Church Street Vision Project. This will attract new businesses, expand our commercial tax base and also create new in-town housing options for longtime residents who, because of rising tax burdens or lifestyle changes, want to downsize. For example, a couple whose children are grown may want a smaller place to live. Senior citizens on fixed incomes may need to cut their property taxes. Providing residential options in or near our business corridor also would enable residents to shop and dine without using a car.
One approach is incentives and environmental enhancements that are attracting appealing new businesses to Church Street. We need a strategy that identifies the businesses that citizens want and creates strategies to pursue them.
Maple Avenue has been undergoing revitalization since the 301 Complex was constructed in 1975. As a result of this project, the Council capped building heights for commercial buildings at three stories. Since then there have been many examples of revitalization efforts that make my point. That was followed by the Amphora Restaurant, the Village Green, Magruder's Shopping Center, Jiffy Lube, OutBack Steak House, Taco Bell and of course Whole Foods, to name a few. Now we see Giant Foods enlarging. Last week the Council approved a mixed-use development for the Southern States location. The Council, working with the Vienna Regional Chamber of Commerce, did its job by establishing the framework and environment. The sidewalk upgrade is a key part of the revitalization of Maple Avenue. The business community, adhering to consumer and market demands and our zoning laws, combined with the vision of the town's Comprehensive Plan, is continuing the type of revitalization I support.
Maud Robinson, incumbent
Revitalization of Maple Avenue is the primary objective of the Maple Avenue Enhancement Project. The goal is to provide an attractive commercial sector that will bring new businesses and customers into Vienna. The mission of the Maple Avenue Vision Committee is to develop incentives that will encourage well-designed and profitable new businesses and the upgrading of some existing structures.
The first step to revitalizing Maple Avenue is completing the current streetscape project and analyzing ways to improve the scheduling and contracting of major Vienna public-improvement projects in the future. Next, I support a broad partnership with Vienna’s businesses and merchants to determine if Maple Avenue needs revitalization and the priorities and vision for the future. If there is strong consensus for revitalization, I propose forming task forces of citizens and the business representatives to explore priorities for land-use issues; commercial and urban design; transportation and traffic, parking and pedestrian concerns; cost estimates, and funding sources. As Maple Avenue is the vital hub of commercial activity and local/regional transportation for Vienna, good planning and solid partnership with the business community would be my highest priorities.