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Council Approves Trailers

Town Council agrees while criticizing School Board.

Town council members approved the continued presence of five trailers at Marshall Road Elementary Monday night, but they did not do it with a smile.

Town Manager John Schoeberlein said he had received a call from the Marshall Road principal last year requesting town approval for the latest two trailers as they were en route to the school. He said he had grudgingly granted the permission and had subsequently asked that the School Board promptly bring the matter before the Town Council.

Now, nearly a year later, the trailers were finally being addressed, he said, adding that the School Board needed to be brought to understand that this was “not acceptable to the town.”

Sunny Sarna, civil engineer with Fairfax County Public Schools, apologetically said the new law requiring council approval of school trailers had not been fully understood by county school officials.

Councilmember Maud Robinson asked Sarna if there were any additions planned for the school in the future and was told that there were 10 new classrooms expected for 2010 or 2011. However, upon questioning by Councilmember Laurie Cole, it came to light that those classrooms would likely be in the modular building that has been planned in order to accommodate a population increase from the expected MetroWest development.

Through further questioning by Cole, the council learned from Sarna that the trailers, which are being used as classrooms, do not have fire exits but do meet fire code, are not all wheelchair accessible but can be made so if the need arises, are connected to the school by an unsheltered walkway and do not have restroom facilities.

The council ultimately granted two out of a possible three years of approval for the trailers’ presence.

Schoeberlein again pointed out that he and the town did not appreciate receiving phone calls from principals and PTA members because of mistakes on the part of the School Board. “Someone at the School Board dropped the ball, and no one will admit it,” he said.

Robinson suggested that a letter be written to the School Board, but Councilmember George Lovelace offered, “I think maybe we should identify who is ultimately responsible and sit down with them.”

Cole pointed out that Marshall Road students are already eating lunch at 10:30 in the morning, “so there comes a point where more trailers are not the answer.”

THE COUNCIL ALSO adopted the proposed cable franchise it had offered Verizon at the previous meeting, although Town Attorney Steve Briglia noted that negotiations with the telecommunications company were underway, and the town may want to repeal the proposal and approve an agreed-upon franchise in the future. The agreement being hammered out, he said is similar in terms to Verizon’s franchise with Fairfax County.

John Knapp, director of government affairs for Verizon Virginia, made an appearance and told the council that when the company had indicated it was not interested in a franchise with the town that was based on its agreement with the county, its officials had not realized that Fairfax County also administered cable for Vienna.

Other council actions included:

* Approval of a zoning change from commercial to park and recreational for the block at 144 Maple Ave. that is to become Vienna’s Town Green, as well as a site plan modification that moved the proposed restroom area further from the street.

* Naming of the neighborhood park at the corner of Nutley and Knoll streets Sarah Walker Mercer Park, as per a request by the Malcolm-Windover Heights Civic Association.

* Authorization to spend $60,000 in Water and Sewage funds to purchase Sensus water meters from Hughes Supply Inc., the only known company that makes water meters that meet town specifications and are compatible with the town’s handheld Touch Reading devices.

* Approval of a $119,704 contract with Moseley Architects P.C. for a study to explore future possibilities for the Vienna Police Station. The study will include an assessment of the department’s needs, consideration of three different locations for the future police department, including the current location, and a suggested plan for space allocation at the chosen site.

* Authorization to award a $38,000 contract with the engineering firm Whitman, Requardt and Associates for engineering services including, but not limited to surveying, engineering studies, environmental issues, geo-technical analysis, and water and sewer analysis.

* Authorization to approve a proposal from the same firm to spend $29,992 on improvements at the water booster pumping stations at Frederick and Nutley streets.

* Authorization for the emergency purchase of two sewer ejector pumps for the police station from Gunnell and Sons Inc. for $20,475. Council members Cole and Kelleher voted "nay," because the contract had not been posted for other bids.

* Authorization to ride a Virginia contract with Abacus Corporation for temporary help at the Sanitation Division of the Department of Public Works, at an estimated cost of $20,000.

* Authorization to spend an estimated $17,000 on clothing, uniforms and accessories from Safeware Inc. for the Department of Public Works.

* Setting a date of July 3 for a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Town Code regarding erosion and siltation control in order to conform to amendments to the state’s Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook.

* Adoption of increased water and sewer rates for the coming fiscal year. The in-town water rate will increase by 11 cents to $3.44 per thousand gallons; the out-of-town water rate will also increase by 11 cents to $3.82 per thousand gallons. The sewer service rate will increase for all users by 9 cents to $4.54 per thousand gallons. Council members Kelleher and Verinder voted nay. Kelleher has expressed a desire to do away with the town water company and have the town’s water supplied by the county water company.

* Approval of a bundle of items including: printing and mailing of the town newsletter; contract renewal for tree maintenance and removal; continuing to ride a county contract for auto parts, service and warranty work; riding a county contract for stone, gravel and sand for street work; continuing to ride a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority contract for diesel fuel; continuing to ride a county contract for tires and inner tubes; riding a state contract for industrial supplies, HVAC supplies and lamps; continuing to ride an Arlington contract for underground utility marking; riding a Herndon contract for a replacement asphalt paver; and continuing to ride a county contract for traffic signs, blank signs, border tape and pole accessories.

* Acceptance of a letter of withdrawal from Steele Knudson as an appointee to the Transportation Safety Commission.

* Acceptance of a letter of resignation from Edward Umbrell from the Planning Commission.

* Reappointment of John Schoeberlein as the town manager, Steve Briglia as the town attorney, Phil Grant as the town treasurer and Carol Orndorff as the town clerk.