Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election this year, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As this week in the order we received the responses.
Featured here is Chris Wright, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council.
Bio: Chris Wright has lived in the Town of Vienna since 2004. He lives with his wife, Calli, and two boys who attend Vienna Elementary School. Born and raised in Lynchburg, VA, he graduated from James Madison University with a BBA and currently works as a partner in a local consulting firm based out of Merrifield. Chris volunteers with Shelter House and coaches in Vienna Little League, I9 Sports, as well as Vienna Youth Basketball.
Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?
In short, I will do everything I can to ensure that Vienna’s identity does not change as a result of Tysons’ urbanization. Vienna’s small town charm is what attracted many of our residents to live and raise families here. I do not think it’s necessary to construct hundreds of condos/apartments in Vienna to compete with other D.C. areas such as Tysons or Mosaic as some have suggested in the past. The council needs members that can pro-actively and effectively work with Fairfax County and Tysons developers to ensure our current and future interests are represented.
What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?
Minimizing cut-thru traffic in our neighborhoods is not an easy task and all ideas should be on the table. I would posit that the individuals most motivated to tackle this problem are the candidates that currently have young children who are most at risk by cut-thru traffic.
In addition to safety concerns, I can say with certainty that I have never seen the roads in Vienna in this bad of shape. The intersection of Echols and Berry streets SE being one of many examples.
The obvious solutions to mitigate the safety concerns are more speed calming measures as well as finally prioritizing sidewalks. I would focus on a more pedestrian friendly town, not only with sidewalks, but also with more access to businesses via the W&OD trail, bike lanes, and incentives to encourage residents to leave their cars in the driveway.
Another idea is a small toll on Maple Ave on commuters as they travel between Oakton and Tysons with an exemption for town residents. Given the volume of traffic on Maple Ave, all options should be explored and not simply dismissed as “that’s not possible.”
Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?
“Elections have consequences” is a phrase applicable to every level of government. A couple of years ago it looked as if the Town of Vienna was headed the way of Tysons, Falls Church, Mosaic, etc. The D.C. area has many communities where someone can find that type of lifestyle.
I would argue that Vienna is extremely unique in that it does have a small town feel just a few miles from DC and it’s something that I want to preserve. Vienna should work to mordernize and encourage new vibrant businesses to settle here, while working diligently to understand the impact of that development. Then it must be effectively communicated to residents affording them the opportunity to provide feedback.
Vienna has a long history of being named a “Tree City USA.” What steps would you like to see Vienna take to become greener and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly?
Whether it’s residential or commercial, we continue to see new development replacing old all over town. The obvious downside to this is that many of our trees are removed. I would advocate that for every one tree that development knocks down that two new trees are planted to continue Vienna’s tradition of being named a “Tree City USA.” I would also work to bring more green spaces and parks to Vienna. I would support converting Beulah Road Park, which is now an industrial mulch yard, to its original intent of a park for all of Vienna to enjoy.
What do you want to see happen for parking when Parking Henry Library gets moved and rebuilt?
Vienna is going to have to recalibrate the need for a number of costly projects like a parking garage below Patrick Henry Library given the impact that COVID-19 will have on our community. That having been said, I believe that ensuring we have the best library possible combined with centrally located parking is an obvious win for the town.
Before committing substantial money and resources to a project like this, we must first understand what improvements need to be made to the existing library, approximately how many parking spaces are needed now and for the foreseeable future, and that the new structure fits in architecturally with our town.
What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance?
Given the existing traffic and school populations in Vienna, the existing height restrictions should remain in place as a rule. I do believe there are exceptions to every rule that can be evaluated on a case by case basis. Before making exceptions, Vienna should understand the traffic impact, school impact, and surrounding neighborhood impact of proposed new development. Additionally, the need for the proposed development/business should be weighed before exceptions are made and broadly communicated to our residents.
Photo courtesy Chris Wright