The six candidates running for Vienna Town Council all point to the same problems that have dominated the town's elections for more than a decade: traffic and future land use.
Five of the candidates are vying for three council seats, and Mayor Charles A. Robinson Jr. is campaigning unopposed for a sixth term in office. The nonpartisan election is scheduled for May 6. Voting will be held at the Vienna Community Center, 120 Cherry St. SE, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Incumbent Vincent J. Olson, who is running for his sixth term as councilman, said his main concern centers on the traffic impact the Vienna Metrorail station, scheduled to open June 7, is expected to have on the town's already overloaded main thoroughfare, Maple Avenue.
Olson, 54, said the Town Council needs to keep close tabs on proposals to develop the vacant land that surrounds the station, which is just outside the town's eastern boundary and adjacent to several Vienna neighborhoods. Vienna officials have said that the town's residents will bear the brunt of the parking and traffic problems that the development around the station is expected to generate.
Fairfax County planners have proposed a mixed-use development around the station with most of the construction to be residential, although local developer John T. (Til) Hazel has proposed a predominately commercial and retail center on the nearly 175-acre site located around Nutley Street and I-66 adjacent to Metro.
"The only thing we can do is work with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and county planning staff to limit [the station's] impact," Olson said in a telephone interview. "We have no direct control over what happens outside our boundaries. We can only work to influence . . . the direction of things as they go out there."
Incumbent George E. Lovelace, 49, agrees that Vienna's small-town flavor could be tainted by sprawling commercial developments so close to its borders.
Lovelace, running for his third term on the council, predicted that two-lane Nutley Street, which runs perpendicular to the Metro station, will turn into a "highway." He said traffic from the station "will cause a long-term impact on our budget because we'll have to spend money to maintain our streets for others besides our own citizens." term on the council.
Mary Jane Cronin, who was narrowly defeated in last year's Town Council elections, said she favored a bypass around Vienna's northern edge to reroute commuter traffic from the Tysons Corner area. Cronin said a free commuter parking lot outside the town's limits with feeder bus service to the Metrorail station would also ease the traffic situation.
Cronin, 58, said she advocates more adult day-care programs for Vienna's elderly population and redevelopment of the town's downtown business district.
"Maple Avenue has no cohesiveness from an aesthetic point of view," said Cronin. She said she would support hiring a private firm to study and redesign the area for future rehabilitation and redevelopment.
Lucille C. Gasparine, 53, who also was defeated in the 1985 election, said she wanted to preserve Vienna's small town atmosphere by prohibiting new high-rise apartment and office buildings. She agreed that traffic and transportation were two central issues in the campaign.
Gasparine described Vienna as an "island" of residents who are "kind of laid-back."
Long-time Vienna resident Martha Pruett said the town's worsening traffic problems need attention from Fairfax County transportation officials, not just from Vienna's own planning staff.
Of proposed intensive developments around the new Metro station, Pruett, 67, said one way to shield adjacent residential areas from the new retail, residential and commercial buildings was with heavily landscaped buffers around the site. "We need to maintain the quality of life we have here now . . . that feeling of closeness," she said.
Mayor Charles A. Robinson Jr., running unopposed for his sixth term in office, said that "land use is the name of the game at the moment."
Robinson, 67, said that while traffic on Maple Avenue is heavy at times, it is no worse than the congestion through Fairfax City, to the south or Tysons Corner, to the north of Vienna.
"The traffic problem is indigenous to the entire Northern Virginia area," said Robinson in an interview. "Nothing we can do in Vienna can solve that problem. It has to be solved on an area-wide basis."
Robinson said he was concerned that development around the new Metro station would have a deleterious effect on nearby neighborhoods.