Vienna Town Council members on July 1 voted 7-0 in favor of having the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department apply for grant moneys to make improvements along sections of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Regional Trail within the town.
Hoped-for upgrades would include removal of invasive plants, replantings made with native species, trail lighting and improved intersections where the trail crosses Park Street, S.E., Maple Avenue, E., Church Street, N.E., and Ayr Hill Avenue, N.E.
The up-to-$500,000 Recreational Trails Program grant, funded by the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, would require a 20-percent match from the town. Grant applications are due by Aug. 2 and will be reviewed and scored by the Virginia Recreational Trails Program Advisory Committee.
Vienna officials will examine the improvements’ costs and perhaps conduct them in phases, as the town of Herndon has done alone its section of the trail, said Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman.
Parks and Recreation Department officials initially will concentrate their efforts on the trail’s central section in town between Park Street, S.E., and the Dominion Energy power substation north of Ayr Hill Avenue, N.E.
Town officials plan to get price quotes from Musco Lighting, the same company that provides light-emitting-diode (LED) illumination for the town’s athletic fields, Herman said. Eventually, officials hope to light the W&OD trail from Cedar Lane, S.E., all the way to the town’s border at Northside Park, Herman said.
Some Council members were hesitant about the prospects for trail lighting.
“I’m concerned,” said Council member Linda Colbert. “I think that our residents are not going to want lighting on the trail.”
Herman and Council member Nisha Patel said lighting would provide extra security and safety for trail users, but Council member Steve Potter had a different viewpoint.
“The reverse of that would be that it could increase activity and it may not be good,” he said.
Mayor Laurie DiRocco said the project’s initial section is located mostly in the commercial zone and will give town officials the chance to evaluating the lighting’s impact before extending it elsewhere along the trail.
Council member Pasha Majdi, who had been told new lighting at the recently renovated Vienna Community Center would not adversely affect residents, said he was dismayed at how the illumination of the center’s parking lot was affecting the nearby Park Terrace neighborhood.
Arlington County has vast experience with trail lighting and had installed dimmable LED lights that adjust according to the ambient lighting, said Council member Douglas Noble.
“The brightness is much more attenuated than it already would [be],” Noble said.