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Is it a 'Park' or a Town-owned 'Property?'

Vienna council members discuss the Beulah Road property and its use as the town's site for leaf mulch.

In response to concerns by residents in northeast Vienna, the Vienna Town Council decided to draft a plan for a site known as the 'Beulah Road property' during Monday evening's work session. The plan will determine how much space should be designated for the town's leaf mulch operation, which takes place on the site, as well as assess what other uses the property could have.

After the town creates the plan, it will hold a public hearing on the plan at a later council meeting.

The town's use of its property had been in question over the years, as the site, zoned residential, had been used for leaf mulching and for the temporary storage of materials by the Public Works Department.

Most recently, in July 2003, the town removed from the site debris from the Maple Avenue Enhancement Project, after several citizens complained that the debris dumped on the site violated the site's habitat and use. The debris included traffic lights, chunks of old cement and asphalt, and used brick and pipes.

"The town made a mistake, the town admitted a mistake," said Councilwoman Maud Robinson who favored keeping the leaf mulching at the Beulah Road property, because she argued there wasn't any other feasible place to put it.

Yet for the citizens who attended the evening's work session, their issue wasn't whether the town should continue its leaf mulching, but that the town wasn't listening deeply enough to their concerns of environmental damage on the site. They also questioned the town's definition of the site, which is designated as a 'public-use property' on most maps, but is defined as a park in others, including a 1979 town map, according to northeast Vienna resident Linda Ebersole.

"I think part of the issue is, the citizens don't trust us anymore," said councilman George Lovelace.

"WE ARE NOT in any way shape or form adversarial," said Ebersole after the work session, responding to a comment that they had been difficult through the last few weeks. "…We have requested information, they have not provided it."

No one at the evening's work session knew the exact year leaf mulching began at the Beulah Road site, but with town manager John Schoeberlein, they believed the mulching operation began there 25 years ago.

Responding to some of the environmental concerns raised, public works director Dennis King said the asphalt millings were put on the site because the trucks responsible for the leaf collection and distribution of mulch couldn't operate properly.

"It's hard to keep them from getting stuck," King said, noting that the leaf collection and mulch distribution occurs between October and January.

Regarding the E.coli levels in the silt pond on the site, King said the levels were below state and federal standards.

The council decided to draft a plan on the Beulah Road property and make the results known town-wide, since the leaf mulching operation affects the whole town. That decision was due in part to a resolution that the Northeast Vienna Citizens' Association (NEVCA) had made, asking the town to establish a task force studying possible long-term uses of the site. The task force was to have two members from the town council, the town manager, and two members of NEVCA's Beulah Road Park committee.

The citizens attending the meeting said they would continue to press the town to look into the environmental impact of the town's use of the site.