0
Votes

A Patch of Green

Council reviews Town Green project.

Vienna Town Councilmembers described the Town Green as a "vista." When it is constructed, the view from Maple Avenue at Mill Street looking toward Church Street would extend across a plaza, lawn and amphitheater.

At a Town Council work session on Monday, Sept. 19, Valerie Mosley of Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, PC presented a concept of the Town Green project to Mayor M. Jane Seeman, Town manager John Schoeberlein and members of Town Council.

The council approved Lardner/Klein for the Town Green project at its June 20 meeting. The project is a large one, not least of all because it involves the demolition of the existing building and parking lot at Maple Avenue and Mill Street. The cost for the entire project is nearly $1.8 million, according to a draft cost statement prepared by Lardner/Klein.

"I think the tapered look to the park is very nice because it emphasizes the perspective of the park opening up," said Councilmember Laurie Genevro Cole.

According to the concept plan, the Town Green would begin with a paved plaza at Maple Avenue, from the W&OD Trail crossing to Mill Street. The plaza would have an 18-foot "water feature" sponsored by the Vienna Rotary Club, as well as trees and benches. Back toward Church Street, the paved plaza would give way to a lawn that sits 18 inches lower than the plaza. On the lawn beside the plaza, the town would plant a winter holiday tree.

A paved walking path will run from Maple Avenue to Church Street, said Mosley, crossing from the W&OD Trail side of the green to the Mill Street side, curving back around to connect with the Freeman House walkway, and branching off to the old Vienna Library on Mill Street. The 8-foot-wide path would be lined with trees, she said.

An amphitheater, in the form of a sloped lawn surrounding a covered stage for outdoor concerts and performances, would be located on the other side of the pathway facing Church Street. Closer to the Freeman House, paved walkways would run from the house to the amphitheater, from the house to the library, and from Mill Street to the library.

Parking along the W&OD Trail would be reconfigured into angled spaces. Three to four handicapped spaces would be available, near the Church Street entrance and parallel to the Mill Street entrance to the park, midway between Maple Avenue and Church Street. Restrooms would be provided at this entrance as well, along with a drop-off space for cars and school buses.

ARCHITECTURAL ASPECTS of the Town Green, such as the restroom facility, walls and walkways, would reflect the structures already there, said Cathy Salgado, director of the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department. The restroom facility would be built with white clapboard, like the Freeman House and library, she said, and the stonework would incorporate stone and brick.

Councilmembers expressed concerns about tree lines, parking and the ability to make a turn off Mill Street.

"I want to be able, when I’m on Maple Avenue, to look all the way to Church Street," said Councilmember Maud Robinson, who was concerned that the trees lining the pathway would obstruct this view. Once the trees matured and grew taller, said Mosley, the view would open up more and still provide shade along the pathway.

The architects expect that the path will see heavy usage, said Mosely, which is why it was designed so wide.

"Usage will come from several directions," she said. "There’s going to be lots of parking."

Councilmember Edythe Kelleher wondered what would count as available parking spaces in the immediate area of the Town Green, since it would be surrounded by several business parking lots, a church lot and spaces on the street. According to Salgado, anything within 400 feet of the Town Green entrance counts as parking.

At Mill Street, the project proposes to widen the intersection at Maple Avenue. Councilmembers discussed the narrow size of Mill Street and the difficulty commercial trucks and other vehicles have turning onto it. They considered some factors to mitigate the problem: making the street right-turn only onto Maple Avenue, restricting truck access or making Mill Street one-way.

The project’s price tag includes paving, structures such as the stage and restrooms, site furnishings like benches and water fountains, demolition of the existing building, widening Mill Street, and redoing parking on the W&OD Trail side of the green.

Some of the costs could be defrayed by asking town businesses and residents to sponsor features of the Town Green, such as the holiday tree, trash cans or benches, said Seeman.

To get the process started, the Town Green concept is on the agenda of the Monday, Sept. 26 Town Council meeting. According to Salgado, the project should ideally be out to bid by February 2006.

MOVING FROM the Town Green to artificial green, Mark Meana of Vienna Youth Inc. brought up a project to replace the grass on Waters Field with synthetic turf. At their July 11 meeting, councilmembers said they would explore financing issues further.

Beyond replacing the turf, said Salgado, the renovation includes moving the field lights and replacing the fence around the field. It would cost $100,000, she said. The council placed the funds for the turf project on the agenda for Monday, Sept. 26.

"The only option at this point is to borrow against the [$4.9 million] bond that is scheduled to go out next spring," said Schoeberlein, since the project came up in the middle of the budget cycle. The amount will be repaid when the bonds are sold, he said.

The project is "ready to move," said Meana, and even in the worst case scenario where VYI and the Greater Vienna Babe Ruth League could not find funding, he would still find a way to complete the project.

"We don’t want to lose a season out of this, and we are going to stick our neck out and take a chance," said Meana. "But I feel confident about this."

The town will also draft an ordinance prohibiting people from parking watercrafts and residential vehicles on public streets. The council discussed the matter in Monday’s work session in response to many citizen complaints, said Seeman.

"We’ve got very narrow streets in a lot of parts of town. This is very dangerous," she said, of large vehicles and watercrafts sticking out into the road and blocking the view for drivers.

Some town residents don’t have driveways, and this ordinance could be limiting to them, said Cole.

"We’ve got to be fair," said Councilmember George Lovelace. "This [ordinance] needs to be applied all over."

The ordinance will be applied to all public streets throughout the town, even in commercial districts, said town attorney Steven Briglia.

A