2020 Vienna Town Council Election: Meet Andrea Dahl

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 in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is Andrea Dahl, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council. 

Bio: I’m Andrea Dahl and I’m running for Town Council because I believe I can make a positive impact. As an energetic mom and community volunteer with 20 years of corporate experience, it’s always my mission to come up with creative ways to do things better, for less money.

Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?

I recognize that growth is inevitable and welcome much of it. However, I think that we can do a better job managing it to preserve our small-town feel and strengthen our sense of community. New growth needs to include comprehensive planning, looking at the full impact on our roads and class sizes, but also protecting the overall quality of life of our current residents. What is right for Tysons is not necessarily right for our town nor what most residents of Vienna want.

I don’t think we need another storage area in the heart of historic downtown Vienna, but there seems to be some consensus that residents would like a vibrant downtown filled with more mom and pop restaurants, taverns, outdoor cafes, galleries, and unique shops where residents can safely walk and bike around. These small businesses help differentiate our town from Tysons and would be welcomed by most residents.

Prior to this pandemic, I supported the town making strategic land acquisitions as key property becomes available because I recognize that land in the town is finite. In my opinion, the purchase of commercial property to create the Town Green was one of the best decisions ever made by the Town. Given today’s environment, we will need to look at the full impact of this pandemic on our economy and the residents and businesses within our town before moving forward with any discretionary expenditures.

What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?

Maple Avenue is already at capacity when it comes to traffic. This means that any extra traffic from Maple Avenue spills over to our residential streets. While I’m not opposed to development on Maple Avenue, I think that any future development has to make sense taking into consideration the full impact on our roads, schools, and town services. To ease cut-thru traffic and slow vehicle speeds, I support installing traffic calming measures like speed humps, speed cushions, and realigned intersections.

It would make sense for the town to work with Dominion Power to install sidewalks on certain streets at the same time that Dominion Power is burying their lines. This collaboration will save the town money and make our neighborhood streets safer, prettier, and our power service more reliable. This also helps many local home builders because Dominion Power is absorbing the cost to bury our power lines instead of developers paying to do this with any new construction.

Roundabouts at select intersections, flashing lights for pedestrians to cross busy intersections as well as adding trees and vegetation next to busy roadways are other options we can use to effectively slow traffic and make our roads safer.

Additionally, I support working with local sports leagues to minimize practices that require driving children to school practices across town, especially at the elementary school level.

Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?

According to the Collins Dictionary, “small town is used when referring to small places… where people are friendly, honest, and polite.” Small towns tend to have their own special characteristics. Since people tend to know one another and look out for each other, people living in small towns often feel safer and happier. This has never been more evident than now.

During this pandemic, I have seen all kinds of people in our town step up to help others in so many creative ways that I am proud to call Vienna home. In my opinion, the Town of Vienna is a type of oasis in the middle of the Northern Virginia sprawl. Its close knit community is what gives Vienna its small town feel and we should want to preserve that.

To best keep Vienna’s small town feel, we should continue to do things that promote building a strong sense of community as this is what differentiates Vienna from neighboring areas. Community events like the annual Halloween Parade and the Church Street Holiday Stroll are favorites that everyone looks forward to.

At a minimal cost, Vienna could offer additional events like weekly summer outdoor movies, indoor winter movies at the Community Center for kids and seniors, more concerts on the Town Green, and even a Dog Jog & Walk fundraiser to further strengthen our sense of community.

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 am very passionate about preserving our parks, trees, and green space. I would like to strengthen our town’s involvement in the “Tree City USA” Program by displaying a higher level of commitment to urban forestry.

With all the new construction, we’re losing our big old trees at an alarming pace. Often homeowners are forced to spend thousands of dollars to cut down their trees that have died primarily as a result of new construction bordering their property. Last fall, the town arborist shared with me that this is happening all over Vienna.

Our residents and our trees should be better protected. We need to develop and implement a town tree policy that replaces trees that die. Residential lot coverage requirements should remain at 25% to promote green space. We need to encourage more open space, green space, and setback requirements on all new commercial projects.

Additionally, I have a background developing and implementing recycling programs with companies nationwide which I plan to use to improve recycling in our town. We can do a better job educating our residents on what is recyclable and what is not. With China no longer taking our trash, the reality is that many recyclables are landfilled if there’s no market for them or if they’re too contaminated. We can do better.

What do you want to see happen for parking at Parking Henry Library?

I believe that these are two separate issues. Our town desperately needs a parking garage which ideally should be somewhere on Maple Avenue close enough to the Town Green and W&OD Trail. A new parking garage would eliminate the overflow parking and congestion on our neighborhood roads every time there is a community event downtown.

We also need a complete renovation of our existing Patrick Henry Library. It is too small and does not meet the needs of our community. When my children were in preschool, I would actually drive to Great Falls for programs offered at their local library because our Vienna library could not offer similar programs due to space limitations. Sadly, we are lucky if we visit the Patrick Henry Library here in Vienna more than a couple times each year.

What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance?

I support limiting our height and building sizes on Maple Avenue to three stories since Maple Avenue is already at capacity for traffic and any excess traffic spills over on to our neighborhood roads negatively impacting our residents. Where possible, I encourage site modifications and repurposing existing buildings rather than replacing them similar to what has been done with the new Bear Branch Tavern. I support enforcing setback requirements on Maple Avenue and adding green space for beautification and to slow traffic.

One of my greatest concerns is what will become of the Giant-anchored shopping center in Vienna. Around northern Virginia we are seeing large, mixed-use developments with hundreds of expensive apartments like the new Scout on the Circle project at the corner of Route 50 and Route 29. This type of development lacks setbacks, green space, and doesn’t fit our small town. Under no circumstances do I want to see anything similar where our Giant currently sits.

I support rewriting commercial codes to make them easier for everyone to understand. I also support developing a vision for future development on Maple Avenue to preserve how we want Vienna to look in the years to come.

When I worked in Michigan, I frequently represented my franchisees at town planning meetings to get approval for construction projects including signs advertising their businesses. Vienna needs to develop a vision with resident input for our commercial development to set the framework for how we should move forward.

People interested in learning more about Dahl’s campaign can check out her website.

Photo courtesy Andrea Dahl

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