Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election, 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 Roy Baldwin, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council.
Bio: I have been a homeowner in Vienna for 40 years. I am married to Sharon, who for many years taught voice to area students in her studio in our home. I am a father to Nathaniel, who attended Vienna Elementary, Louise Archer, Madison High School and went on to William & Mary and West Virginia Law School, and is now one of my associates in The Baldwin Law Firm in Oakton, where I concentrate on estate planning and administration and family law cases.
I have been a parishioner of the Church of the Holy Comforter for many years, serving on the Vestry, as a Sunday School teacher and as a lay reader. I was a board member of the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce but then decided to switch to the Vienna Business Association several years ago. I have served in several capacities in the Town of Vienna, where I am chairman of the Board of Architectural Review (member for 14 years).
Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?
I like Vienna just as it is and don’t feel obliged to change just because Tysons becomes more densely developed. Vienna should continue to be a convenient, lower cost option for people who work in Tysons and who want a single-family house or townhouse as opposed to a high rise. Our shops, restaurants, and activities can prosper as Tysons’ population grows, if we as a town take good care of them and allow them to offer experiences that are different from those that can be had in Tysons.
What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?
Since Maple Avenue congestion at rush hours is caused overwhelmingly by commuters from the west using it as a short cut to get to and from Tysons, I don’t think we should try to make Maple Avenue more attractive to them. If we do so, they will just come in greater numbers. I favor timing traffic lights to allow traffic to cycle through town, so that town residents will be able to move about more freely.
As for cut-through traffic, I feel deeply for residents along Church Street, Ayr Hill, Locust, Windover, and similar streets and am willing to explore solutions with them, up to and including making them one way streets that would switch direction twice a day to be always against the flow of rush hour traffic.
Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?
My hope is that, in 20 years or so, when you get in your flying car (yes, we will have them by then) and make your way over Northern Virginia, you’ll see the towers of Reston Town Center to the west and the 500-foot-tall skyscrapers of Tysons to the east and in between you’ll see this little town that looks like it’s in a valley between two mountain ranges. It’s Vienna’s small town feel that attracted Sharon and me back in 1980, and we want the same for everyone who lives here.
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?
I want to take advantage of the recent legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor that hopefully will make it more feasible for homeowners to install solar panels. I would like to explore the possibility of switching to a “super can” system of trash collection. Once our current contract for recycling expires, I would like to see a return to recycling of glass.
I continue to be distressed by wholesale destruction of established trees when an older home gets bulldozed — I would like to strengthen our tree ordinance along the lines of Arlington County’s ordinance, which allows their county arborist to nominate special trees for protection (with the consent of the landowner in the case of private property, of course). I would like to see real bike lanes installed on Park Street, Beulah Road, Courthouse Road, and other arterials.
I was really impressed with how Denmark has integrated bike lanes on a recent trip. For a number of reasons, I do not think it would be a good idea to allow homes to cover more of their lots than is currently allowed, including because doing so would increase runoff into local streams after rainstorms.
What do you want to see happen for parking when Parking Henry Library gets moved and rebuilt?
When the county is ready to decide what to do with the Patrick Henry Library (which may not be for a long time given the lasting effect of the coronavirus emergency), I want the town to get the most parking spaces we can for the best price possible. On the Board of Architectural Review, we were just beginning to review the options, which included as many as three floors of parking, when the pandemic shut everything down.
When things pick up again, I want to advocate for a design that doesn’t monopolize the block or scream “parking garage.” The parking facility in Williamsburg is a good example of what would work here, with some modifications. Our Maple Avenue and Church Street merchants deserve and need this facility and, after letting two other sites slip away, we should do our best to make it happen this time. It’s not an ideal site, but I don’t see any better one available.
What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance?
I am ready to sit down around a table with my fellow Vienna residents to arrive at these ideals (when we can again do that sort of thing). Heading into such meetings I will not try to dictate my personal views or to impose them on others. I am not in favor of just doing away with the Maple Avenue Corridor (“MAC”) Ordinance, because many of our fellow Vienna residents worked long hours for many years to bring it into being. Our experience with the first several developments under its terms haven’t been satisfactory, but that’s a reason to fix it, not to abandon it.
If we as a town still believe that mixed-use developments are appropriate along Maple Avenue, we must give the owners of those parcels the incentive to do what we want them to do. If four story buildings are allowed, their top floors should be set back from the street to avoid a “canyon” like feel.
People interested in learning more about Baldwin’s campaign can check out his Facebook.
Photo courtesy Roy Baldwin