In 2003, Vienna and Oakton saw plenty of snow, anniversaries and neighborhood debates. The following are some of the major issues that occurred over the past year:
Snowstorms Blanket Region
The 18 inches of snow that fell on Vienna and Oakton caused schools, businesses, the federal government and even the Smithsonian to shut down over the weekend of Feb. 15 and 16. Because Fairfax County Public Schools had used up their snow days, students had their school day extended by 30 minutes over the spring months to make up for lost time.
Vienna Elects "New" Faces
With the stepping down of former Vienna Town Council members Vince Olson and Mike Polychrones, the town was busy with political activity in May 2003 when six candidates ran for three available Council seats. Incumbent Maud Robinson won her re-election to the Town Council, while former Council member and state Del. George Lovelace and Vienna Planning Commission chair Sydney Verinder filled the two other vacancies.
Turnout for the contested election was 18.3 percent, in comparison with 2002's election turnout of 9.6 percent, when candidates to the Vienna Town Council ran unopposed.
Moorefield House Gets Saving Grace
Right when the Vienna Town Council was ready to demolish the Moorefield House in the spring, interested area citizens banded together to save the historic home of Baptist preacher and Revolutionary War figure Jeremiah Moore. Area Baptist groups as well as the Jeremiah Moore Historical and Educational Association came together to raise money for a contractor to dismantle and store the house's frame until the group can find a place to rebuild it. The group hopes to reconstruct the house's frame near Vienna and use the house as an educational tool, exploring the life of Jeremiah Moore and his early efforts to support the separation of church and state.
Area Institutions Mark Anniversaries
2003 was also a year for several area institutions to mark noteworthy anniversaries. The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its 100th anniversary with a May gala, and Vienna Elementary marked its 80th anniversary in September as one of Vienna's original schools. The Cartersville Baptist Church in Oakton, a historically African-American church, celebrated its 135th anniversary in fall 2003.
Tysons Corner: The New Downtown?
In June, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved unanimously a future mixed-use development near Tysons II. The Tysons II Land Co. intends to develop 57 acres in residential, office and retail space. The final development will include eight buildings, the tallest being a high-rise with 540 residencies; commuter rail at 123 and Tysons Boulevard; an amphitheater; public art and fountains; and a ground-level pedestrian bridge linking the development to Westpark's approved development of 1,350 residential units at Westpark and Park Run drives.
Later Start Time at Madison?
In May 2003, students, parents and county school administrators got together to discuss the feasibility of starting school later at James Madison High School in Vienna.
However, instituting a later start time seems to be at a standstill at this time. The proposal, which would have gone into effect in fall 2004, is still on the table, but the issue has become inactive, said Mary Shaw of the Fairfax County Public Schools' community relations office.
Proponents of the later start time believed that teenagers suffer from inattentiveness in their morning classes due to their lack of sleep and that a later start time would improve student performance all around. But residents were also concerned about traffic near the high school because two area elementary schools would also have had similar start times.
Windover Heights Historic District Remains Intact
The Malcolm Windover Heights Historic District has merit because it preserves the character and feel of the northwest quadrant neighborhood, decided the Town of Vienna in September 2003, when a handful of property owners wanted their five properties out of the historic district.
The Covel family and the Stiches had requested that their properties of 130 Pleasant St., 200 Walnut Lane, 222 Lovers Lane, 224 Walnut Lane and 346 Windover Ave. be removed from the historic district, citing property rights and vague and arbitrary applications of the district's regulations. But area citizens, the Vienna Planning Commission and the Town disagreed, saying that those properties were too integral to the historic district to be opted out and that they added to the character and feel of the neighborhood. Furthermore, talk that those properties would become a townhouse development further worried area citizens, who felt that approving those families' requests would create a precedent for future development within the historic district.
Mosby Woods Elementary Opens New Gifted and Talented Center
In fall 2003, Mosby Woods Elementary welcomed third-graders from Marshall Road, Daniels Run, Providence and Fairfax Villa elementaries to the school's new gifted and talented (GT) center. Fairfax County Public Schools created the new GT center to relieve crowding at the GT centers at Louise Archer and Mantua elementaries.
In Harm’s Way of Hurricane Isabel
When Hurricane Isabel passed through the region in September, area families finally had uses for the bottled water, flashlights and duct tape they had bought in February due to heightened national security concerns.
Although Isabel started out as a Category 5 hurricane with 155-plus mph winds as it touched down on the North Carolina coast from the Atlantic Ocean, it appeared as a tropical storm when it arrived in the Washington metropolitan area. Even though Vienna received only 1.95 inches of rain, the continued winds caused power outages throughout Fairfax County. Indeed, Vienna and Oakton residents were among the 1.8 million Virginians and North Carolinians without electricity. Complicating the situation further was the loss of power at the county's water treatment plants, which resulted in the boiling of water by area citizens and restaurants.
Candidates Compete for State and Local Seats
On Election Day, area residents witnessed a changing of the guard on the state and local level, as all the seats in the General Assembly, as well as all the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors seats, were up for grabs.
With a 9-point margin, Providence District supervisor Gerry Connolly (D) beat Republican opponent Mychele Brickner in a bid for the chairmanship of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Connolly replaces Kate Hanley (D), a public servant veteran, who had decided earlier in 2003 not to seek re-election because she had intended to race against U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th).
Taking Connolly's place as Providence District supervisor was Democrat Linda Smyth, Providence District's planning commissioner. Smyth won 56 percent of the vote compared with her opponent, Republican Jim Hyland, who received 44 percent of the roughly 16,000 votes.
Hunter Mill supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D) got a nod from voters for a second term, when she beat out fellow Reston resident Doug Bushée, a Republican.
At the state level, Jeannemarie Devolites (R) successfully jumped from one state legislative body to another, as she became state senator for the 34th District, after having served as delegate for the 35th District since 1998. Devolites beat Democrat Ronald F. "Ron" Christian, a minister, activist and first-time campaigner.
The race to replace Devolites became one of the most "to watch" races of the state, with both Republicans and Democrats infusing hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure victory in the 35th District. In the end, Democrat and assistant commonwealth prosecutor Stephen C. "Steve" Shannon won the race over Republican Robert "Rob" McDowell, also an attorney, 53 percent to 47 percent.
<Vienna Marketplace Opens
What was once a Southern States outpost became in December 2003 a hot spot for noodles and latte with the creation of Vienna Marketplace, a multi-business development to replace the old feed and farm store. The Marketplace is on the 200 block of Maple Avenue East.
Chesapeake Bay Amendments Debated
The Vienna Town Council reluctantly approved in December 2003 three amendments to the Ordinance Provisions and the official Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas Map. Although two of the three amendments dealt with minor text changes, the Council grappled with passing the amendments. Members believed that the ordinance not only adversely affected the rights of property owners along the preservation areas but limited the power with which the town could apply the ordinance.
Several property owners had approached the Council in December, concerned that the 100-foot buffer required affects their property values.
The last amendment called for extending the terminus of the resource protection area (RPA) from Northside Park to the outfall pipe adjoining Capitol Building Supply's property at 431-435 Mill St. N.E. The change includes Piney Branch stream, which was classified as perennial, or having a continuous water flow.