Although the 400-year anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown is still three years away, Vienna’s “Virginia 2007 Community Committee” is already planning the town’s celebration.
One of the first tasks the committee has planned is the renovation of the plot of land with the Freeman Building on the back corner of Church Street and Mill Street, next to the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad regional park, which was discussed at a planning meeting Thursday afternoon at the Marco Polo restaurant.
“These are early plans. They’ve been through one session with the Town Council and will most likely be revised several times before anything happens,” said Cathy Salgado of the Vienna Parks and Recreation department. “We’ve started meeting with an architectural firm on a conceptual plan for the park, which will probably come on line in plenty of time for the festival."
Three concepts are being considered for the park, all of which feature a memorial grove and some sort of permanent performance structure to be built in the park, Salgado said.
“The building on the corner of Maple Avenue and Mill Street will be torn down in February of 2006, which gives us plenty of time to build something new,” she said. The Town purchased the property from the owner a few years ago and planned to wait until the current tenants’ leases are up to demolish the building.
The Freeman House sits on the opposite end of the plot of land, which, Salgado said, “creates a vista between Maple Avenue and the train station.”
The first concept for the park has a grove that “cuts off the end of the park, and we don’t like not being able to look from one end to the other,” Salgado said. Maintaining green space in the park and in the town is a priority in the plans as well, she said.
THE SECOND concept features a performance area with tiered seating built into the park, Salgado said, but it is more expensive than the other two options.
“The third plan is for a meandering park. The seating for the stage area would be less formal and maybe lowered to protect from street noise,” she said. “We want to put something on Maple Avenue, maybe a clock tower or water feature of some kind.”
Salgado added that the planning for the property would evolve over time, but that the planning committee did not want to change the Freeman House or the property around it.
Vienna mayor M. Jane Seeman said that she hoped to keep the park free from “structures, keep it as green as possible. Maybe we can use a portable stage. We want to keep the feel of openness."
“The park is important for many reasons,” said Paul Snodgrass, chairman of the Vienna Planning Committee. “There are 20 different ideas to explore, and we’re so glad to have this presentation,” he said.
SWITCHING TO a timelier topic, Snodgrass said that the committee will be working on its submission to the Vienna Halloween Parade soon.
“The clock is ticking,” he said. “What I had in mind is to have our segment of people carrying a banner, with people walking behind them carrying signs with short words or phrases that relate to Jamestown.”
The plans need to be submitted to the parade committee by Oct. 1, he said. “We need to get families to join us, bring out their children. We need to make our presence known. It would be great to have people dressed in period costumes from different eras of the past 400 years."
Also, the committee is trying to gather pictures from Vienna’s history to include in a pictorial directory of the town, Snodgrass said.
Jean Johnston from the Patrick Henry Library said that as word gets out, she hopes more pictures will come in.
“People are concerned," Johnston said. "They want to lend their pictures, not donate them, but I’m not sure how long to tell them we’d keep the pictures before we can give them back.”
“We can scan the pictures and save it on a disk and get it back to them within a week,” Snodgrass said. “Technology is wonderful.”
Anyone with photographs of old Vienna that he would like to include in the directory is asked to call the Patrick Henry Library at 703-938-0405 or Historic Vienna Inc. at 703-938-5187. Residents interested in participating in the committee can attend the meetings, held at 2 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Marco Polo restaurant on Maple Avenue.
The McLean/Great Falls Celebrate Virginia 1607-2007 Committee, one of the first pilot communities to join the program, has already conducted a historic photograph contest and a tour of historic homes, said Carol Herrick, co-chairwoman of the committee.
“People don’t realize how much history we have here,” she said. “We’re so far from Richmond we get lost in everything.
“Hopefully in 2006, the McLean Women’s Club will do another historic house tour,” she said. “We’re hoping to do a time line of the history in the area through a series of bronze plaques, and we’d like to do a pageant to get the youth involved. We’d also like to plaque and identify historic homes and trees in Great Falls and McLean,” Herrick said.
“There are six trees at the Dolly Madison library that have been removed, and depending on how the bond issue goes in November, the library will be renovated or rebuilt. Those six trees are going to be replaced in the parking lot, possibly by cuttings from trees at Montpelier,” she said.