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Votes

Fate Sealed for Moorefield House

Council decides to raze the 200-year-old building

While the historic accomplishments of settler Jeremiah Moore may live on, his house won't. After decades of debate on how to preserve the crumbling, 200-year-old building, the Council voted unanimously on Monday on the Park and Recreation Department's recommendation to raze the structure and place an appropriate memorial on the site off Nutley Street.

As part of the motion, Historic Vienna Inc. will film the house's dismantling, as well as work with the Parks and Recreation save artifacts from the home and create a demolition plan to save the home's foundation. An archeological assessment will also be conducted as part of the process.

Razing the house will cost the town an estimated $3,500, and archeological assessment costs will not exceed $5,000.

"This has been a difficult decision for all of us," said Vienna mayor Jane Seeman, before casting her vote in favor of the razing. "Unfortunately, in our position, we can't make everyone happy."

The question to preserve Moorefield House had been under debate for decades, as the structure became beyond repair and restoration. While some town residents wanted to preserve the building, those who lived in the Townes of Moorefield, a housing subdivision encasing the property, expressed desire for its demolition. Also at the center of the debate were issues of cost, safety and location.

THE COUNCIL HAD discussed Moorefield House's fate at an earlier work session this winter. Yet even as the Council was set to vote Monday evening, residents still argued one last time their reasons to restore or dismantle the property.

"I really dread seeing it go. And when it's gone, it's gone forever," pleaded Millie Monahan, a docent with Historic Vienna. Monahan argued that she could bring schoolchildren to the site to teach them about Jeremiah Moore's fight for freedom during the turn of the 19th century. "It could mean so much to this town. I'm afraid you're missing something."

Vienna resident Peggy Schmidt, representing the subdivision, argued that safety concerns merited the razing. She submitted to the Council a petition signed by residents who live on the same street next to the house.

"This house needs to go. It's time," Schmidt said, adding that the subdivision would approve a memorial.

As the Council cast their votes, some members added "reluctantly" to their aye.

Demolition of the house will begin near the end of March, pending weather conditions. Director of the Parks and Recreation Department Cathy Salgado said that descendants of Jeremiah Moore have been invited to take part in the filming.

In addition to sealing Moorefield House's fate, the Council discussed and voted on the following items:

*Council members thanked the town's Public Works Department and the Parks and Recreation Department for their snow-removal efforts during the recent snowstorm. They also thanked residents who took extra initiative to clear their sidewalks beyond their property, as well as areas near fire hydrants and storm drainage. However, in response to concern by a Vienna resident, they asked businesses to clear their sidewalks for pedestrians and clear snow away from handicapped parking spaces.

*The Council approved unanimously the renewal of a five-year lease between Historic Vienna Inc. and the town for 131 Church Street N.E., the Freeman House and the Library building.

*The council approved unanimously the request of the Vienna Jaycees to continue operation of the Vienna Farmers Market from May 3-Oct. 25, 2003, and to continue to pay the $25 per Saturday operational fee to the Vienna Jaycees. A Jaycees representative said they will invite one community organization a week to participate in the farmers market.

"Are you still going to have kettle corn? I'll vote for it then," Seeman joked.

*The Council approved unanimously the request to pay for a rental vehicle for Vienna Police's Narcotics Section, at a monthly rate of $868.64 for approximately six months, using funds from the asset forfeiture account. Vienna Police chief Bob Carlisle said account funds come in part from arrested drug dealers. He added that while the police will rent a vehicle during the six months, they are also looking to purchase a seized-asset vehicle for the Narcotics Section during that period.

"I think it's a pretty good deal for the town," Carlisle said, referring to the rental cost.

*The Council approved unanimously executing an assignment agreement for Contract 99-16, Recyclable Material Processing, from FCR Virginia Inc. to Recycle America Alliance, LLC, until the final expiration date of March 8, 2003.

*The Council decided to take no action on the request for a four-way stop sign at Moore Avenue and Glyndon Street Southeast. A Moore Avenue resident who had circulated an earlier petition for a speed hump argued that the number of children in the neighborhood warranted a traffic-calming device. However, the Transportation Safety Commission recommended that the site didn't meet the criteria of Virginia Department of Transportation and the town for a traffic-calming device because speed and volume data did not warrant the requests.

*The Council unanimously approved special legislation suspending certain property owners' tax-exempt status for payment of real-estate property taxes to the town. The legislation was due to pending General Assembly legislation for this class of property owners.

*The Council unanimously approved referring a request from the Windover Heights Historic District to the Planning Commission to remove the property addressed as 130 Pleasant St. N.W.

*The Council approved unanimously adopting a proposed ordinance to amend Article 21.1, Chapter 18 of the Vienna Town Code, pertaining to Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas and amendments necessary to comply with adopted changes to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area designation and management regulations.

"Everyone has done a lot of work on this," said Councilwoman Edythe Kelleher, thanking town staff and the Planning Commission for conferring with and protecting affected homeowners and their rights.