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The former Faith Baptist Church building in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Faith Baptist Church that has occupied 301 Center Street South in Vienna for about seven decades will officially be torn down.

Faced with increasing maintenance costs, the Vienna Town Council voted unanimously on Monday (June 5) to demolish the entire two-story building, which was originally built in the 1950s, according to Fairfax County records.

The town purchased the 3-acre property in 2020 in part to have a temporary base for the Vienna Police Department during the construction of its new headquarters. Chartered in 1952, the church had opted to close its doors and sell to support the creation of a new network of “connection groups” in Northern Virginia, per its website.

Some council members previously suggested keeping the church’s gym, but that would cost between $2.9 million and $3.3 million, Director of Parks and Recreation Leslie Herman reported in a May 24 memo.

After seeing those new numbers, which exceeded the $1 million that an earlier study estimated would be needed to convert the building into a usable recreational facility, the decision to send the church to “house heaven” became a “no-brainer,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said.

“I think get the damn building down, because it’s just costing us too much money right now,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said. “It gives us a clean slate there, and every time we turn around, another price jumps up.”

A total demolition will cost $250,000, according to town staff. The town hasn’t determined yet when the demolition will take place or how long it will take.

“There are still a lot of details that need to be worked out, including the bidding process for a contractor to do the demolition, permitting for demolition, etc., plans for how to use the property once the building comes down,” Vienna Public Information Director Karen Thayer said by email.

The property’s long-term future also remains up in the air.

The council decided to postpone a decision on whether to spend an additional $23,500 on a business planning and operational costs study recommended by consultants Kimmel Bogrette Architecture and Kimley Horn.

Hired in November, the consultants found clear support in the community for turning the site — now called the Annex — into a recreational facility, especially one with a swimming pool or fitness center, based on an online survey and public workshop.

The proposed study would give the town more concrete numbers for the costs and benefits of different recreational uses, Herman said. Read More

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The Vienna Town Council discusses its zoning code overhaul at a conference session on May 8, 2023 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna has set a tentative timeline for wrapping up the first overhaul of its zoning code since Richard Nixon occupied the White House.

At a May 8 conference session, the Vienna Town Council urged staff to have the rewritten code ready for adoption on Oct. 23 — its final meeting before a new council is elected on Nov. 7.

To meet that deadline, staff will present a complete draft of the new code on June 5 and schedule public hearings for July 10 and 12. Officials with the Department of Planning and Zoning had proposed waiting until late August for the public hearings, since people may be out of town during the summer.

“Staff could…use the summer break to engage with the public and educate them about the contents of the draft, so that they are more able to provide informed testimony,” Planning and Zoning Director David Levy and Deputy Director Kelly O’Brien said in a memo. “While it is likely that many people will be on vacation, staff will provide multiple opportunities both in person and online for citizens to engage when they are available.”

However, the council argued that it would prefer to hear from the public “sooner rather than later” on the update known as Code Create, whose completion was designated as a top priority for 2023.

Faced with a tight timeframe either way, council members noted that July hearings would give staff more time to incorporate the public’s feedback into the final document, and community members could still submit written comments afterwards.

“I think there’s an advantage to going out earlier, because I think I’d like to hear from the public,” Councilmember Ed Somers said.

Before spending over half an hour debating the Code Create schedule, the town council discussed potential new uses in transitional zones — which currently allow little beyond medical offices and massage therapy businesses — and how to handle the mixed-use building at 901 Glyndon Street SE.

The council was particularly split over whether to allow child care centers in transitional zones with a conditional permit. Councilmember Nisha Patel worried that the noise could drive away tenants, while Councilmember Chuck Anderson countered that having child care available in or near their office is a draw for many workers.

Council members suggested creating a zoning district specifically for 901 Glyndon, which is unique in Vienna as a condominium building with ground-floor commercial space in the middle of a single-family residential neighborhood. Town Attorney Steven Briglia warned against “grandfathering” as a “slippery slope.”

“[The building is] always going to be a square peg in a round hole,” he said.

The discussions hinted at the myriad issues that still need to be settled before that Oct. 23 deadline for Code Create, which has been underway since September 2020. The rewrite will shape the town’s future look and development, dictating everything from new zoning districts to lighting standards and bicycle parking requirements.

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A tree on Branch Road in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna is ready to turn over a new leaf in its commitment to tree plantings and preservation.

In the hopes of reversing a significant decline in canopy coverage over the past decade, staff proposed a tree conservation ordinance to the Vienna Town Council last week that would require developers to preserve existing trees when possible.

An ordinance would put the town in line with Fairfax County, which has had conservation rules since the General Assembly extended that authority to Northern Virginia localities in 1990. Right now, Vienna only requires that developers replace eliminated trees to meet canopy standards.

“This is the kind of thing that’s so big, so impactful that I would like to hear from the community on and…is absolutely worthy of a public hearing. It’s a big idea that could have big results,” Councilmember Ed Somers said after the May 8 presentation.

Current canopy requirements vary across zoning districts, but for the single-family residential lots that dominate most of Vienna, builders must provide enough trees to cover at least 20% of the lot after 20 years.

A conservation ordinance would raise that 20-year standard to 25%, require developers to “make an effort” to preserve any trees likely to survive, and let developers unable to meet their on-site canopy requirement contribute to a fund for trees plantings elsewhere in the town.

“If you can’t meet your tree requirements through tree preservation, you supplement that through tree planting, as opposed to what Vienna has right now, where a builder can cut down all the trees if they want and then just replace them with new trees later,” Brian Land, a Vienna resident and Kirkland & Ellis LLP attorney, explained.

The town hired Kirkland & Ellis and the Ramboll US Corporation, a consulting company, in September 2020 for a pro bono project to analyze its tree program and those of other jurisdictions in Virginia.

In addition to a conservation ordinance, the consultants recommend that Vienna create a tree commission to supplement its Conservation and Sustainability Commission and track and publish plantings data on an annual basis.

Town staff have already started to make progress on the tracking recommendation, thanks to a town-wide tree inventory now underway.

Building off an urban tree canopy assessment released in October, the now-complete first phase of the inventory identified 8,640 sites in town that either have a tree or are suitable for future plantings. Of the 7,224 existing trees, 306 were dead, and 689 others were in poor condition, town staff told the council.

Conducted by consultant PlanIT Geo, the project’s second phase will consist of parks that weren’t already surveyed. A final report is expected to be presented to the town council on June 12.

The inventory data, including the health and species of each tree, is being assembled into a dashboard that staff will be able to update in real time and that will be accessible to the public through the town’s website.

While the inventory will provide valuable information, more staff and money are needed to actually plant and maintain trees, Vienna Park Maintenance Superintendent Jeremy Edwards said.

According to Edwards, the town’s annual tree maintenance budget has jumped from $30,000 just two years ago to $80,000 this year, and the council approved $250,000 in federal Covid relief funds for a street tree replacement project on May 1.

However, Vienna has no staff dedicated to tree maintenance, and with hundreds of trees in need of removal or pruning, those funds start to look pretty paltry.

“If trees are important, which I think they are, we do need to build a staff of competent workers that can not just cut trees, but know how to prune them, how to maintain them so we can manage them much better going forward,” Edwards said. “A lot of people can just cut. That’s what we’ve been doing so far, but knowing the proper cuts, that’s the skilled staff we need right now.”

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Vienna’s former Faith Baptist Church, now known as the Annex (via Town of Vienna)

The Vienna Town Council appears inclined to raze the former Faith Baptist Church, as a study continues to sift through ideas for the long-term future of the site now known as the Annex.

A vote on whether to demolish the now-vacant building at 301 Center Street South has been set for June 5. While no decision was made, a majority of council members indicated at a conference session Monday (May 8) that they would rather knock down the structure than invest money in maintaining it.

Council members Howard Springsteen and Ed Somers seemed open to keeping the church gymnasium — another option suggested by the consultants conducting the study — but it was unclear how much that would cost compared to replacing the 1950s-era building with new, temporary recreational facilities.

Martin Kimmel, president of the consulting firm Kimmel Bogrette Architecture + Site, confirmed the team could provide “rough” cost estimates in time for the June vote.

“It’s going to come down to cost,” Councilmember Steve Potter said. “I’m leaning toward don’t put good money into bad. I think the best thing would be to demolish the building, but I’m having a hard time making a decision because we don’t have all the information.”

It will cost about $250,000 to fully demolish the church and remove the resulting debris, town staff estimated.

The town purchased the former church on Aug. 31, 2020, turning it into a temporary base for the Vienna Police Department until its new headquarters was built. The move-in process was completed in January.

After a review found that it would take $500,000 just to bring the existing building up to code, the council commissioned Kimmel Bogrette and fellow consultant Kimley Horn to help the town develop a long-term vision before it makes any short-term commitments.

Based on initial public input, including a still-open online survey and an in-person workshop, community members would love to see recreational amenities of some kind — particularly an indoor pool or other aquatics facility — in the Annex’s future.

Active recreation emerged as easily the top choice for future uses of the Annex at a March 28 workshop (via Town of Vienna)

“There was no doubt the word ‘pool’ jumped out” as a use that should be evaluated, Somers said, referencing a word cloud in the consultant team’s presentation.

An exercise or fitness facility, pickleball courts and meeting space also got solid support as potential uses at the March 28 workshop, which was held in the new police station.

With the police station costing about $14.1 million, it will likely be at least a decade before the town can implement another project of that magnitude. That may not be as far off as it seems, given the amount of time needed for planning, design and construction, Town Manager Mercury Payton noted.

Springsteen said a pool seems “cost-prohibitive” when the town already has millions of dollars worth of capital projects to address, from road improvements to sewer upgrades. Other council members suggested all options should remain open until they get a clearer idea of the costs.

Kimmel Bogrette proposed bringing in another consultant that could conduct a market and operational analysis. For an additional $23,500, the analysis would evaluate different possible uses for the site and project potential demand, construction and operational costs, and revenue.

Some council members expressed skepticism at the need for that analysis, though Payton said the consultant would be able to provide a more detailed, informed review than what town staff could manage. The proposal will come up for a vote on June 5.

“I don’t know what we’d wait for. We have to know what the costs are,” Mayor Linda Colbert said.

In the meantime, Kimmel’s study will proceed with more community engagement events at the Vienna Community Center from 4-7 p.m. today (Wednesday) and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday (May 13).

A final recommendation is scheduled to be presented to the council on June 12.

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The word “stop” will be painted before the stop sign at the Echols Street SE and Berry Street intersection (via Google Maps)

The drive down Echols Street SE is about to get bumpier — and, the Town of Vienna hopes, a little slower.

After some initial skepticism, the Vienna Town Council gave its support on April 24 to traffic-calming measures designed to force drivers to slow down on the two-lane residential street, which crosses over Wolftrap Creek.

Town staff and the Transportation Safety Commission recommended installing three speed tables between Branch Road SE and Follin Lane, adding solid white parking lane lines on both sides of the roadway, and painting the word “Stop” before the three-way stop sign at the Berry Street SE intersection.

The recommendations are based on a traffic study conducted last year that showed 85% of vehicles driving up to 31 mph on the 25-mph street, Vienna’s acting public works director Christine Horner told the town council.

Some council members questioned whether those speeds are enough to need traffic calming.

“I’ve gone to the street a couple of times,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said. “I personally would prefer to go with two [speed tables]. I think three is potentially excessive for that street.”

Echols Street just meets Vienna’s threshold for traffic calming, staff said. The town’s street safety guide states that physical measures can be considered if the 85th percentile average speed is 31 mph or higher, along with other criteria based on the type of road and traffic volumes.

Vienna Transportation Engineer Andrew Jinks noted that there was an additional police presence on the street when the traffic study was conducted on Nov. 3-10 last year, so typical speeds are likely higher than what was recorded.

Requested by a resident petition, the study counted a total of 3,765 vehicles in front of 509 Echols Street and 18,250 vehicles at the Wolftrap Creek crossing that week, observing speeds from 3 to 55 mph. The average speed at the creek was 27.2 mph.

“Basically, half the cars are going above the speed limit,” Councilmember Ray Brill observed.

According to a staff proposal, the speed tables will be located just before the Delano Drive SE intersection and on either side of the E Street intersection.

Speed tables are raised like speed bumps, but they’re wider and have a flat top, making them less disruptive to the passing vehicles. They can reduce speeds by around 6-9 mph on average, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s traffic calming guide.

Multiple tables are often needed for them to be effective, Jinks said. VDOT recommends placing the tables about 200 to 500 feet apart.

“If staff says it takes three to get the proper spacing to make an effect, I have to defer to staff on this,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said, as Springsteen ultimately agreed.

The project has an estimated total cost of $20,000, including $6,000 for each of the speed tables, according to Jinks. The traffic calming devices will likely be installed within the next two to three months, a town spokesperson says.

Image via Google Maps

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Vienna Town Hall (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna will reduce its real estate tax rate by a full cent for the upcoming fiscal year 2024, which begins July 1.

Approved unanimously by the town council on Monday (April 24), the reduction is bigger than the quarter-cent decrease first proposed by Town Manager Mercury Payton last month, but it still won’t be enough to completely counterbalance the rising property values most homeowners experienced this year.

The new tax rate of 19.5 cents per $100 of assessed value represents the 11th consecutive year where the town has adopted a flat or reduced rate compared to the previous year, according to a press release.

“While that rate doesn’t quite equalize everyone, it does help account for the increase in assessments,” Vienna Finance Director Marion Serfass told the town council. “…As homeowners in Vienna, we’re all pleased to know our houses are increasing in value. We’re not quite so pleased to pay increased taxes on them, but this lowering of the tax rate will offset that somewhat.”

On average, real estate assessments in Vienna increased by 10% this year, Mayor Linda Colbert said in the press release.

According to Colbert, the town council asked staff to revisit their financial forecasts to see if it would be possible to “to reduce that burden on taxpayers.”

“Thanks to conservative budgeting, no increase in health insurance rates for Town staff and an increase in other revenues reported later in the budget process, the finance staff determined that Vienna could further reduce the tax rate in the proposed budget and still operate at high standards,” Colbert said.

When presenting his proposed $50.1 million budget in March, Payton said the town anticipated getting increased revenue from business licenses, meals and sales taxes and interest rates, enabling it to address inflation and employee compensation.

Though the one-cent real estate tax rate reduction won’t stop many residents from getting higher bills, it will lower the average increase while allowing the town to maintain a rainy day fund with over 18% of the next year’s budget, the town says.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we cut the tax rate too far,” Serfass said. “We’re all worried about storms on the horizon. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, so we’re trying to be conservative.”

The proposed budget, which adds one staff position each in the public works and planning departments, is scheduled to go before the town council for a final vote on May 15.

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A Fairfax Connector bus stop and trees line the sidewalk on Maple Avenue (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna wants to bring more color to Maple Avenue and Church Street with a landscaping refresh, but new greenery won’t be in the ground until August at the earliest.

Department of Parks and Recreation staff approached the Vienna Town Council on Monday (March 20) to request $600,000 for a landscaping contractor that will help design and install new planters along the town’s main commercial streets.

However, uncertainty over how exactly those funds will be spent led the council to postpone a vote until its next meeting of April 10.

“Many of us have questions we’d like to get answers to,” Mayor Linda Colbert said.

Staff had hoped to get design options for the improvements this April and choose a final one in May so that the project could finish by the end of July, according to a request for proposals issued Jan. 12.

The town was seeking a vendor to design and install 81 landscape planters on both sides of Maple Avenue between East Street and 213 Maple Ave. West, along with 46 planters on both sides of Church Street between Mill Street NE and Lawyers Road NW.

The existing landscaping, including planters, brick sidewalks, streetlamps and bus shelters, was installed on both streets approximately 20 years ago, according to the town.

“The landscape plants have matured over the years and the uniformity of the design has waned,” the RFP said. “The trees are the predominant feature of the landscape planters while the shrub and herbaceous perennial layer is inconsistent and often absent.”

In addition to the actual plants, the requested funding would cover soil remediation, root pruning, the public engagement process, traffic control and sidewalk closings, and any needed removals of vegetation other than trees, which will be taken care of by town staff, Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman said.

The Tysons-based firm LSG Landscape Architecture, which previously assisted Vienna with a study of the Maple Avenue streetscape, was selected as the contract recipient.

Councilmember Chuck Anderson balked at the lack of details on the price of individual plants and other expenses, questioning why staff was seeking $600,000 right now when, so far, LSG has only provided a cost estimate of about $83,000 for the design portion of the project.

“I understand that the design’s not done, but we lack any leverage over pricing, so for the remaining $520,000, in theory, they could come up with whatever they wanted at whatever price,” Anderson said. “…This does not sound like to me to be sound contracting practices, particularly for a contract that’s this big. I think we need more certainty.”

According to Herman, the town believes having one firm design and install the project would be more efficient than doing separate RFPs, but after talking to LSG, staff decided they could get a more accurate estimate for the cost of implementation after the design is chosen.

Though initially skeptical, other council members ultimately agreed with Anderson that more financial information is needed after staff seemed unable to explain how they arrived at $600,000 as their proposed funding cap.

Despite her lingering questions, Colbert lauded the project’s overall goal of bringing more life and color to Vienna’s streets year-round.

“We’ve had residents come to us, email, come to our meetings and speak, businesses have talked to me about expecting Maple Avenue and Church Street to be greatly improved,” Colbert said. “It will help our businesses, and it will define our town better, I think, as people drive into town.”

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The tennis and pickleball courts at Glyndon Park in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Getting court time at Glyndon Park in Vienna may be tougher going forward for pickleball players.

In the hopes of alleviating noise complaints from nearby residents, the Vienna Town Council approved a significant reduction in playing time for the increasingly popular sport at the 11-acre park’s four courts during its Monday (Jan. 23) meeting.

However, the new schedule represents less of a reduction in days than initially proposed, allowing pickleball on four days per week instead of just three. It also eliminates shared playing times between tennis and pickleball, so hours designated for pickleball will be exclusively reserved for that sport.

“I see this as a long-term issue,” said Councilmember Chuck Anderson, who proposed the adopted schedule. “I think we all on council agree on that, that what we need to do is roll up our sleeves and take a look at capacity. This is a rapidly growing game. It’s very popular, but it also has a noise issue, and it’s something I think we need to work on and manage.

Pickleball is now limited at the park to the following hours:

Dec. 1 to the end of February

  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday

March 1 through Nov. 30

  • 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Outside of those hours, only tennis will be allowed. The courts close at 10 p.m.

As part of the approved motion, the council also directed the Department of Parks and Recreation to post signage at the park recommending that pickleball players use “quiet” paddles that supposedly make less noise.

Prior to Monday’s 5-2 vote, pickleball and tennis were both permitted at Glyndon Park (300 Glyndon Street NE) seven days a week, but they alternated during open-play hours on Monday through Thursday mornings — a schedule confusing enough that the town council spent several minutes of a Jan. 23 conference session on the proposed changes trying to get clarification.

Anderson said he had considered continuing some shared usage of the courts as part of his proposal but ultimately decided it would be too complicated. He also found that the suggestion didn’t appeal to either pickleball players or the residents who raised the noise issues.

“If you start sharing [on pickleball days], you have to do it the other way too,” he said. “On a tennis day, if the tennis courts aren’t being used and a pickleball player shows up, it would be used, and I just don’t think that’s workable.”

Since Vienna added pickleball lines to Glyndon Park’s two tennis courts in 2020, some residents have complained that the noise made by paddles hitting the plastic balls is “unbearable,” an issue that has cropped up across the country.

Town staff reduced open-play hours and introduced a reservation system for afternoons, but complaints persisted, with some residents calling for pickleball to be banned from the park altogether, Parks and Rec Director Leslie Herman told the council.

After talking with staff, the residents agreed limiting pickleball to Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays would be acceptable, leading Mayor Linda Colbert and Councilmember Ed Somers to object to the addition of a fourth day.

“I’m just concerned about adding a fourth day at this point. I might get there eventually if more people use the soft paddles, if the noise is reduced, if things change, I could get there very easily, but I’m not there right now,” Somers said to a smattering of claps from the audience.

Anderson and other supporters of the four-day schedule said it would give players more flexibility, while starting play later and ending it earlier.

“There’s just a one-hour difference, and it gives people more peace in the mornings and evenings,” Councilmember Nisha Patel noted.

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Pickleball players celebrate the opening of the courts at Glyndon Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The nationwide face-off between pickleball enthusiasts and homeowners has arrived in the Town of Vienna.

In the hopes of quieting resident noise complaints, the town council is set to vote on Monday (Jan. 30) to reduce pickleball play to three days per week at the courts in Glyndon Park (300 Glyndon Street NE).

Currently available seven days a week, the four pickleball courts would open Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays under the proposal from the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department. The hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays would remain the same, but on Saturdays, they would end at 5 p.m.

Town staff recommended an 8 a.m. start time for Saturday, but at a conference session on Jan. 23 that saw some tense back-and-forth exchanges on both the dais and from the audience, a few council members suggested considering 9 a.m. instead, since kids might want to sleep in on the weekend.

“I don’t know that anybody is a hundred percent thrilled with this, but it is in my mind a compromise, and it’s something we can do right now,” Mayor Linda Colbert said.

Glyndon Park’s pickleball courts were welcomed with gusto by local players — including the mayor, who also partakes in tennis — when they opened in October 2020. With aid from the Vienna Pickleball Club, which paid for some of the equipment, the town added pickleball markings to the two existing tennis courts as part of a planned refurbishment.

However, players have run afoul of some nearby residents, who describe the sound of paddles hitting the plastic balls as “unbearable, loud and constant,” according to one comment in an October survey conducted by the parks department.

“The noise is unbearable,” wrote a resident of Jean Place NE, which is across the street from the courts. “The constant popping 12 hours a day 7 days a week is borderline torture. We cannot use our outdoor space anymore due to pickleball and cannot open our windows.”

The survey went to 34 households and received 17 responses, including seven from people who reported having no issues with pickleball. Parking and traffic complaints also came up, but Parks Director Leslie Herman said those “have been taken care of” with signage directing players to an overflow parking lot by the baseball diamonds.

Vienna isn’t alone in seeing clashes between homeowners and pickleball players. As the sport has grown in popularity over the past decade, so have the noise complaints, leading some communities to close courts and others to be taken to court — including in nearby Arlington County.

The sound level for pickleball is anywhere from 57 to 79 decibels, depending on proximity and the type of equipment used. That’s 25 decibels higher than a tennis racket hitting a ball, according to the Los Angeles Times.

People talking can also contribute to the noise levels, Councilmember Ray Brill said, recalling a visit to Glyndon Park where he saw dozens of people at the courts who weren’t playing.

“I love exercising, and I love playing sports outdoors, but we have neighbors we have to be considerate of,” Brill said. “There’s no shortcuts, so we have to compromise. We have to allow people to play, but they have to take steps to reduce the noise.” Read More

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A kid runs past Vienna Town Hall (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna wants to give its employees more breathing room — literally.

Some space has been freed up in town hall by the Vienna Police Department’s criminal investigations bureau relocating to its recently completed station. The department’s transition to the new station will be conclude with its communications team moving in by the end of January, according to a spokesperson.

As a result, the town is reorganizing how it uses the town hall building at 127 Center Street South to maximize efficiency and relieve cramped conditions that relegated one worker to a ventilated computer server room, Town Manager Mercury Payton told the Vienna Town Council on Jan. 9.

“[That] probably wasn’t the best thing for his health. We’re going to be moving him out of that area into a vacated space,” Payton said. “So, we’ve already kind of determined internally ourselves some of our best moves, and then we’ve kind of gone as far as we can go.”

To assist with the reconfiguration, the town council approved a $84,900 contract for PMA Architecture to conduct an office space study. The consulting firm was chosen from 10 candidates based on its “innovative yet practical ideas” and experience working with smaller governments, Vienna Finance Director Marion Serfass said.

Built almost 60 years ago, town hall was last renovated in 2014 when it got a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, but there was little consideration of workplace layout at that time — an oversight that became apparent as Covid heightened concerns about the spread of disease.

About 47 employees work out of town hall, not including the 12 recently relocated police personnel, according to a request for proposals issued by the town in August.

While there hasn’t been a huge increase in staff, the services offered by the town have evolved and expanded, Serfass said.

“We’re focusing on economic development, we’re focusing on video content, we’re adding slightly to town hall staff,” she said. “Some of these additions are temporary, but some may become permanent, so town hall staff is sort of bursting at the seams right now.”

The funds for the space study come from Vienna’s American Rescue Plan Act allotment, which can be used to prevent the spread of disease in the workplace. The town previously used federal Covid relief money to install an air filtration system and Plexiglas barriers, among other needs, according to Serfass.

In addition to reviewing room layouts, equipment and storage space, the study will take security needs into account, PMA Architecture Principal Katie Stodghill told the town council.

“I was very pleased to hear you raise the issue of public safety,” Councilmember Ed Somers said. “We live in a different era than we did years ago. We deal with a number of issues where people are frustrated about many things, and their most accessible level of government…is their local government. I do worry often about our staff that are there all the time.”

An exact timeline for the study hasn’t been established yet, but when it’s completed, a final report and the consultant’s recommended solution will be presented to the town council.

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