Click to enlarge Photo

New Twilight Stroll at Meadowlark 7/20/14 by Leon

Along with 48 other avid nature freaks, I enjoyed a guided tour Sunday evening through our local treasure trove, the Meadowlark Gardens. Co-hosted by Park Manager Keith Tomlinson, and childhood advocate author and lecturer, Jenifer Joy Madden, the tour was timed to take in the peace and calm of day's end. Bird calls and frogs added some punctuation to the relaxed and friendly company.

Jenifer made a convincing case for letting children, at a very young age, experience the natural world at every opportunity. "It is only through one's own senses that the world can be understood," she said. "Curiosity and exploration, freedom to follow random ideas is all important."

And a natural environment like Meadowlark is an ideal place to make it happen.

Click the fish for other photos of Meadowlark.

Keith filled in specifics on park history, fauna and foliage species, maintenance, and plans. Meadowlark is part of the Regional Park System, which was developed privately by people who jointly realized the downside to uncontrolled urbanization. They bought up and set aside land for such retreats. The W&OD Trail is another of the Regional Park's Inventory.

A highlight of the tour was the ringing of an enormous bronze bell in the Korean Garden. Normally not heard except for Summer Solstice and diplomatic events, this is a sound you will not forget. The bell weighs over two tons, and when struck on the side by a large log suspended by chains, reverberates for over a minute.

NEW Freeman House
1st in Vienna

The Freeman House is the first 3-D Vienna
building in Google Earth.

If you are familiar with the remarkable free computer program Google Earth, this will be just a note of passing interest. But if you are not familiar, and you download it, your life will be changed forever. You may start spending all your waking hours learning more about our world than you ever thought possible.

Virtually every square inch of the world has now been photographed in high resolution, many times over. Google Earth puts all these photos onto a virtual globe, and gives you the tools to fly anywhere, and zoom in on the details. You can see your house and your car in the driveway. You can "drive" down streets and experience the streetscapes in seamless photography.

You can also see 3 dimensional buildings from above. The Freeman House is the first such building in Vienna. Note the caboose in the lower left is just a blob on the ground, as is the roof of Dr. Gannon's office in the upper left. But the Freeman House has been enhanced, and you can circle around it like a bird, seeing all sides accurately from the point of view of your location above it. Almost all large buildings in downtown Washington DC are now rendered in 3-D.



Continues to be a Crowd Pleaser

Tonight it was the Country Rock Group, Stealin' the Deal connecting old favorites to a distinctive dancible beat.
What's next this summer? Click HERE to see the schedule

Children-friendly, no alcohol or dogs please.

Be a Friend of the Town Green!

Grab a blanket or lawn chair, meet
up with friends for a fun show!


NEW Repaving in Tight Quarters 7/10/14

The stretch of Old Courhouse Road in Westbriar Zone D between Westbriar Drive and the top of Freedom Hill is

being repaved. This is causing delays because of the high traffic volume coupled with the narrowness of the road. It is challenging task.

This narrow steep road section is notorious to its nearby residents and the commuters who use it. In summer, the vegetation along the road makes for a blind curve. In winter, snowmelt across it often makes it slippery. But worst of all, it is between two wide stretches of road, which tempts speeding. Often drivers are well above safe speed when coming down the hill, and many accidents have occured.

Despite efforts to calm the speeding with pavement marks and a flashing yellow warning sign, the problem persists. Solutions seem be be elusive.

Zone C Sidewalks Project Moves Along

As promised, the trees along Maple Avenue are back. A few finishing touches to go. Next up is a sidewalk along Westbriar Drive from Maple Avenue to Old Courthouse Road.

NEW Westbriar Road Project Wrong, Claims Nearby Residents 7/8/14

Follin Lane, which is a border of Westbriar Zone B, is an isolated, shady tunnel of 80 foot trees on both sides which meet each other high above. Most of its traffic is generated by the Navy Federal Credit Union, and three other high-tech buildings close by.

A plan is in the works to widen Follin between Hine Street and Maple Avenue to add an extra lane for northbound cars. This would help in relieving a traffic pile up every workday when the Credit Union employees are home-bound. But this plan is not universally seen as an improvement by nearby residents.

At last night's Council meeting, Loretta Roby and her neighbor Sean McClorey expressed their concerns about the project based on safety, traffic flow, and the damage to the striking, unique tree canopy, slated for removal.

There is little question that speeding is a problem on Follin Lane. In fact, the intersection of Follin and Hine has been a favorite post for police radar.

"It is a dangerous intersection," said McClorey, who lives right on the intersection, and has seen many accidents there. The last one was only ten days ago, and the tire ruts are still fresh where the car left the road, bounced across a deep ditch, and crashed through his back yard fence.

"Our concerns are for our children," he said, expressing his belief that widening the road will only invite more speeding.

Roby and McClorey asked the Town Council to revisit this issue, and consider the safety aspects more closely.



The Town Council last night awarded a $44,000 contract to The Arlington-based Lukmire Partnership to perform detailed design of an extension of the Vienna Community Center on Park Street. The design features a gymnasiam on the western end. The gym would contain a full size basketball court. The court would be designed to also accomodate volleyball, badmitten as well as other community needs.



The gymnasium extension is depicted in this satellite photo by the red rectangle above. The addition will also involve a minor alignment change in the W&OD Trail.

Existing rear exterior of Community Center, seen from the baseball field.


Center Street South is closed to traffic for a while.

Center Street between Maple and Locust is getting a complete rebuild, starting today.

"There have been so many resurfacings on this stretch, that another simple resurfacing will not work," explained Jennifer Sigler of the Vienna Department of Public Works. "The road now has a severe crown to the center, and forces of traffic break it apart."

The roadway also does not line up well with the driveway serving the Town Hall and the school, posing problems sometimes for larger vehicles. The entire road surface, along with the curb and gutter will be removed and replaced, after the grading is improved.

The entire project will take about eight weeks. "Hopefully, less," said Sigler.


A pneumatic tool breaks up the concrete curbing at the Town Hall entrance.


The Vienna Town Council is studying a recommendation made by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to install a traffic light at the intersection of Old Courthouse Road and Westbriar Drive. This is one of three intersection items currently proposed.

The question is whether giving Westbriar Drive light-controlled access to OCHR is really worth the cost involved. A speed hump installed on OCHR near the intersection has been very helpful in allowing access from Westbriar Drive.

What do YOU think? Do you feel that a light at this intersection is a good investment? Let us know your thoughts. Email us.

SILVER LINE Opening 6/23/14

Metro announced the date of the first passenger service will be Saturday, July 29. While the construction and safety issues are nearly finished, there remains some documentation tasks.

Five years in the making, and the subject of contention and design concept clashes, the new line will provide direct service between the region's two largest economic centers: Tysons and the District of Columbia.

Information Officer Appointed 6/23/14

Town Manager Mercury Payton announced the appointment of Ken Kroski as Vienna's new Public Information Officer.

Kroski was selected from 121 candidates. "Ken's communication and leadership abilities, along with decades of experience working with government and private sectors, will prove to be of great value to Vienna," said Payton.

Swearing-In Ceremony 6/16/16

May 6 election winners were sworn into office last night at the Vienna Town Hall. At left, Mayor Laurie DiRocco takes the oath from Judge Brett Kassabian.

Also sworn in were Council Members Edythe Kelleher, Pasha Majdi, and Linda Colbert.

The new officials begin their duties on July 1.

Notes from the County

Meals Tax? (update 6/24/14) Probably Not ... at least for now

During deliberation on the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, a number of individuals and organizations have urged Fairfax County to revisit a restaurant meals tax. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, towns and cities are permitted to have a meals tax subject to an affirmative vote by the governing body, and most have done so. Counties, however, may establish a meals tax only if a referendum is approved by the voters. The last time this proposal was put on the ballot (unsuccessful) in Fairfax County was in April 1992.

There had been growing sentiment during recent years for Fairfax to once again allow the voters to decide if they wish to avail themselves of this additional source of revenue. Reasons for urging this include the desire to diversify the revenues we have available to fund schools, public safety, parks, libraries and human services. If a meals tax were adopted at the state-approved rate of 4% of the cost of the meal cost, it would generate about $88 million annually.

A Task Force of about forty county organizations and individuals, co-chaired by former Board Chairmen Kate Hanley and Tom Davis, was convened by the Board of Supervisors to study the issue and return with their recommendation on June 17th. However the Task Force did not present a straight up recommendation. Rather, they submitted an extensive report detailing the pros and cons of instituting the meals tax. At this late date in an election year, and with only tepid support on the Board, it is unlikely that the tax issue will move forward this year.

Read more details in the Washington Post HERE.

Westbriar Gets a Trim 6/6/14

High above in the 12,000 volt lines, Ken Laska deftly removes branches. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew loads the boughs into dump trucks for grinding to mulch.

Tree trimming crews have been out in force in Westbriar in the last week, and there will more to come.

Some home owners have grumbled at the severity of the cutting, in some cases using descriptors like "mangling" or "butchery." Others have said they would have liked more taken off the sides.

Trees that were planted directly under the power lines sometimes have to be carved into improbable shapes. Choosing an appropriate specie under the lines can avoid problems later.

Keeping vines and branches away from the utility lines is vital for keeping the electricty flowing. "The leading cause of non-storm outages is vegetation shorting out the high voltage feeders," said Jim Urban, crew supervisor.

Sidewalk Project Moving 6/6/14

That was fast! A few weeks ago, it was all yellow machines, mud, and sawdust.

Westbriar Zone C is in the middle of a sidewalk project, funded largely by Virginia State, and was a deal that really could not be refused. The frenzy of development only a mile up the road makes it obvious that we will be eventually urbanized to some degree.

At Monday's Town Council meeting, a resident expressed sadness at the loss of the trees which made coming down the hill into Vienna so inviting. The Mayor assured her that replacement of those trees was always part of the plan.

The trees will be replaced soon. The location for each is marked by a little orange flag. Soon, Maple Avenue will be back to its familiar look.

Whisper Has Real Wind in his Face 6/6/14

In the past, we have shared some spectacular videos of Wingsuit Flying, a sport that needs no explanation for its enthusiasts, and cannot be understood by the rest.

The Dog, Whisper, is out for more wind than he will ever get from the car window. CLICK HERE to Watch

Singing, Anyone? 6/6/14


Back by popular demand

Vienna Choral Society offers another day-long, immersive vocal workshops this summer. Led by our artistic director, Jennifer Rodgers, and accompanist Greg Graf, the workshop will be held:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

9 am to 4 pm

2589 Chain Bridge Road, Vienna, VA 22181

The workshop is designed to help singers: Improve vocal technique, enhance sight-singing skills, and strengthen musicianship. All voice types and skill levels are welcome.


Because at VCS we believe that singing isn't just for "Singers." It's for everyone who wants to be better at what they do, whether it's music or anything else.

When you sing you learn to breathe, project, be with a group, take the stage on your own, pivot when the music isn't going according to plan, connect and communicate with the audience, and find your voice.

Singing is full of life lessons. If you're a professional, get better at your craft. If you're not a professional, get better at being you.

Tickets are on sale now, but classes are limited.

email us or call at 703-349-7150



One of the best kept secrets of Vienna is known to parents of pre-schoolers who also happen to take excusions on the W&OD Trail. It is a tiny whimsical garden located between the Caboose and the historical Railroad Station, meticulously crafted and lovingly maintained for ten years by the Ayr Hill Garden Club.

The Discovery Garden is dedicated to Dorothy McDiarmid, a Virginia Delegate for 20 years.

McDiarmid's daughter is a past president of Ayr Hill Garden Club.

The Children's Discovery Garden is tucked away under a gigantic mural depicting a railroad. It is a neatly manicured collection of plants chosen specifically to stimulate the senses. There is lavender and rosemary for the nose. There are tall spikey flowers with improbably shapes for the eyes. There is aptly-named lamb's ear to delight the touch. And sprinkled all around are the garden's denizens: bunny rabbits, bears, birds, and more. There are surprises around every corner. For the basic three year old, it is pretty much unbeatable.

But delightful and inspiring as it is, the garden is in trouble. It is being eyed by the Town as a location to add some much needed parking along Dominion Drive.

Ayr Hill Garden Club members discuss their options.
L to R, Garden Chairman Kata Bartoloni-Tuazon, Club President Pamela Weiss, and Anna Marie Mulvihill

The garden club does not disagree with the critical parking problem, especially in summer when bikers and other trail users choose Vienna as their access point.

"What we want is to keep the garden going," explained club Presiden Pamela Weiss. "We want to work with the town to relocate in a way that works best for everyone."

One solution that has promise is to move it into the area around the Caboose, perhaps against the stone wall along Church Street. The club is negotiating with Parks and Recreation Director, Cathy Salgado, to see what can be done.

A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 2.


Tree Cover Improvement Voted 5/19/14

Responding to citizen concerns about the Town's deteriorating tree canopy, the Vienna Town Council approved new Town Code provisions to adopt minimum tree canopy coverage requirements for single-lot development and redevelopment. Under the new Code, single-lot development and redevelopment activity will be subject to the same requirements as new subdivisions: 20 percent lot coverage within 20 years.

"This change was started by citizens who were concerned about a disconcerting trend in the Town," said Susan Stillman, chairperson of the TownŐs Community Enhancement Commission. "Their persistence and the diligence of CEC volunteers have changed our Town for the better."

The code changes will affect new dwelling plans submitted for permits on or after May 22, 2014.


Green Dot Scam More Active Than Ever 4/16/14

Police in Vienna and Fairfax have issued alerts on a growing problem: A scam by which people are tricked or intimidated into buying a certain prepaid money transfer card. The card most often used is the Paypal Green Dot card sold by CVS Pharmacy, Walmart, and other popular businesses.

The scam is initiated by telephone, and there are many variations. For example, the victim is told that he or she has won a huge prize, and must send in a payment to cover taxes. Or the victim is told they missed showing up for jury duty, and must send a payment to avoid arrest. Or the victim is told that their grandchild is in jail in a foreign country, and he must send bail payment to get the problem solved.

Another variation is on the internet. You will be browsing, and suddenly a screen comes up that is very official looking, with FBI and Justice Department Logos. It will claim you have looked at copyrighted materials, or listened to music you had not paid for, or other violations. Your computer will be frozen on that page. Your recouse is to ... you guessed it ... to go purchase a Green Dot Money Card, and email the numbers to an address provided. Once you email the money, your computer still does not function. More demands for money are made.

The victim is told to make payment with a prepaid money card such as this. It is untraceable.



Vienna Family Fishing Rodeo, a new community event, kicked off March 29, at the newly restored Wolftrap Creek in Wildwood Park, 700 block of Follin Lane SE.

Wolftrap Creek was stocked the day before with hundreds of trout just for the occasion! Cathy Salgado and her staff from Vienna's Department of Parks and Recreation organized the event, and worked with the Fairfax County Storm Water Division, Fairfax County Public Works and Environmental Services, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Navy Federal Credit Union to make it all happen.

Click HERE for the full story.


The following stories have appeared in the Westbrier Crier:




It's Official ... (well, almost) 3/13/14

The new occupant of the long-time Magruder's Grocery Store will become Mrs. Green's Natural Market.

The vacant old Magruders, today

Update 5/20/14

Our sources at this shopping mall now tell us that the old Magruder's will actually be home to two newcomers. The other will be Chop't Creative Salad which has eight stores in Washington DC.

An artist's sketch of the new Mrs Green's

Mrs. Green's is a rather new corporation with headquarters in Scarsdale and about 18 stores concentrated near New York City east to Connecticut. It recently opened a store in nearby Fair Lakes. Vienna will be the second store in the Mid Atlantic region. The focus is on organic foods and supplements, and the stores usually have a coffee, juice, and smoothie bar. For a review of the Fair Oaks store, click HERE.







Vienna VA

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