The Town of Vienna finished installing the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at two crosswalks on Beulah Road recently just before school begins. Located at MacArthur Ave. NE and Ayr Hill Ave. NE, these solar-powered flashing signals will give pedestrians a new level of safety when crossing Beulah Road.
NEVCA initiated improving these crosswalks in 2015 when volunteers went door to door asking nearby homeowners to sign a petition requesting the Transportation Safety Commission improve pedestrian safety along Beulah Road. About ten residents voiced supports at the TSC meeting when the petition was presented.
After considerable debate including one TSC member questioning why people needed to cross the street at those locations, the TSC agreed to have an engineering firm put together some hard data. The study was conducted in October 2015 and showed over 12,000 daily trips on Beulah Road and interesting speed data.
The crosswalks were striped in 2016 by the Department of Public Works. These new crosswalks allowed a new level of pedestrian safety, and were marked by crosswalk bollards along the center line to increase visibility.
The bollards were knocked down every time they were installed.
NEVCA does give credit to the Vienna Town Council for asking DPW to look into alternatives for the ineffective bollards. And the DPW recommended adding the RRFBs at Ayr Hill, MacArthur and Creek Crossing.
A half-dozen members of NEVCA attended the Vienna Town Council budget work session in March 2017 to show support for installing RRFBs. In April, NEVCA president Bob McCahill received an email from the Town that funding for RRFBs was eligible under a 2016 Capital Improvement Bond, and that DPW was going to order the necessary equipment for installation.
Pedestrian safety in Vienna is extremely important as sidewalks are completed and residents spend more time outside in our walk-able community. Vienna residents do need to be proactive when they see dangerous crosswalks or streets in need of established traffic calming measures. NEVCA efforts involved many people and persistent efforts over two years.
The results are significant pedestrian safety upgrades that benefit all residents of Vienna.
After moving to Vienna, VA I started on a small garden venture that has grown tenfold this year. When I started out, planting my first Milkweed plant, I never thought I’d be so successful attracting so many Monarch butterflies to my yard.
We would get to watch them lay their eggs, see them turn into caterpillars, and chow down on the milkweed leaves. I had no idea that harvesting caterpillars to help repopulate the diminishing monarch population was going to be so rewarding, and so frustrating at the same time. I have learned so much through my two seasons helping the Monarchs.
Inspire you to start a Monarch butterfly garden too
I hope to inspire others to start their own Monarch butterfly gardens, and help Vienna repopulate this threatened insect.
To give you a little bit of background, I have always been an advocate for our animals and our environment. One of my ventures, a few years back, was creating the Colorado Green Action Network. When I wasn’t busy being a speech pathologist or a full time mommy, I was dedicated to improving the health of our community.
The network worked with local, and state representatives to help protect our environment. It also helped to educate the community about coming together to make a safer, healthier environment for us, our children and our animals. Our network saved everything from burrowing owls, to coyotes and helped move prairie dogs by hand when their habitat was threatened.
Moving to Vienna Virginia was a perfect fit for me…
After moving back to the East Coast, it seems I haven’t lost my interest in this area. Moving to Vienna Virginia was a perfect fit for me with the parks, green spaces and the town’s goal to become a Wildlife Habitat town.
So, when a friend told me about pitching in to help save the Monarchs, it was a no brainer!
In doing some research, I found out we needed to plant milkweed plants. But, they couldn’t just be any milkweed plant. They have found even the slightest amount of pesticides in the plants or the seeds of the milkweed plants will kill the Monarchs (and any other pollinators that land on it!)
One common pesticide used by many homeowners and around schools and buildings, called neonicotinoids, are problematic for many of our pollinators as the poison is systemic. It is spread throughout the whole plant. So when bees, Monarchs and other pollinators come to feed on the plants, they die.
Another problem that may deter butterflies from your garden and your neighbor’s garden is the use of weed killers such as Roundup. Roundup has had a significant impact on the Monarch population as it kills the very thing it needs to survive, the Milkweed!
I do have to say, that I was so nervous and frustrated throughout this process, as many in the town still use companies to spray pesticides and herbicides, and the drift can be so toxic on some days. I’ve also seen many just spray their beautiful flowers with chemicals freely and I don’t think they are aware the poison just doesn’t kill the pests, it kills everything that lands on the plant. It also has adverse effects on our health and the health of our pets.
In setting out on this venture, I didn’t know if my caterpillars would survive.
I started out with ten milkweed plants I bought at the local nursery. We tracked the plants back to their origin and made sure they were pesticide/insecticide free. I planted them in early summer in my front garden. Almost magically, little tiny white, yellow and black caterpillars appeared. Since I wanted to have a better chance of survival rate for these guys, I decided to harvest the caterpillars when they were large enough and bring them in. I snipped the leaves the caterpillars were munching on and placed the caterpillar in a pet container. (Beware, the milkweed plant has latex. I would tend to use gloves when snipping the leaves and buds, and was careful to wash after.) I found the pet containers in the small habitat area at Petco/Petsmart for $10 apiece. They came with a removable top that was perfect for the caterpillars to attach their cocoons to.
What a great real-life science lesson for the kiddos!
I laid paper towels on the bottom of the cages for their well, caterpillar poop, and replaced them with new towels every morning. I placed fresh leaves and milkweed pods in the containers every day and removed the wilted leaves.
Out of my first year’s 13 caterpillars, 11 were released as butterflies.
I loved watching them emerge from their cocoons, and what a great real-life science lesson for the kiddos!
But I have to admit, I was the most excited one. It feels amazing to let the butterflies crawl on your finger, bring them outside and watch them fly away.
This year our milkweed plants took off and we had more than 20 plants! Because of that, we took in over 90 caterpillars. I set free all, but one. What a success!! I have heard in the wild only 10% of the caterpillars actually make it to the butterfly stage. I am not sure how much truth there is to that.
It will be interesting to see what next year brings!
We have recently transplanted some milkweed to the back yard to let it spread there. I can’t wait to see how any plants we will have next year. We continue to be a pesticide free zone and in doing so, we are able to help the Monarchs repopulate! We hope that you join us, as well, in becoming pesticide/herbicide free.
If you would like to learn more about using fewer pesticides and saving the Monarchs, I would love to share my experiences with you.
I hope with each newsletter to provide information to help others in the community add to their wildlife habitat in a way that is safe to all, animals, people and the environment. I look forward to taking you on other adventures, as we continue to add to and enhance our wildlife habitat!
NEVCA is involved in many community programs in Vienna and is always looking for volunteers to help out. Contact us if you have some spare time!
This Earth Day and Arbor Day, consider making a donation to the Town’s “Tree Vienna Donation Program” to support the Town’s effort to plant additional trees on Town property.
Established a few years ago, the program allows the Parks Department to buy larger trees to replace trees lost to bad weather, disease, or age. Larger caliper trees will enhance the tree canopy sooner.
When the Parks and Recreation Director discussed with the Community Enhancement Commission that they were planting 90 trees a year, but removing 110, it was easy to recognize that the tree canopy needed attention.
The recommendation was made to create a way for Vienna residents to easily participate and donate funds. All funds will go to buying additional trees.
Vienna’s tree canopy is an integral part of the Town’s charm. Please do your part and donate today.
All are welcome to attend the general membership meeting of the North East Vienna Citizens Association on Tuesday November 15th at 7:30 at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Station.
NEVCA has invited Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman to talk about the Vienna Community Center expansion project that is currently underway. Leslie will talk about progress, estimated completion date, and features of this important project.
Please join us in a question and answer session.
Also speaking will be Town Council Member Doug Noble speaking specifically about issues of Maple Avenue zoning and transportation, a topic of interest to all residents of the Town of Vienna.
Join us for a question and answer session after his presentation.
There will be door prizes provided by Great Harvest Bread Company , a long time sponsor of NEVCA meetings. Great Harvest Bread Company is located at 132 Church Street NW in Vienna.
The community is invited to attend this meeting. We hope to see you there!
On Tuesday evening, May 17th at 8pm at the Vienna Arts Society, 115 Pleasant St NW, NEVCA will hold a General Membership meeting. The agenda is attached. Yearly Board elections will be held. The treasurer’s post remains open. I encourage you to let me know if you are interested in serving.
Linda Ebersole is stepping down as 2nd vice president, a position she has held for many years. Thanks Linda for all you have done for NEVCA and the residents of NE Vienna! Given her long & active participation in things NEVCA, she is in fact our resident historian!
As always, non-members are welcome to join us at our meetings, so tell your friends!
If your membership is up for renewal, you may pay your dues (still only $10) at the meeting. If you cannot attend, feel free to contact me with any concerns or suggestions you may have to improve NE Vienna.
Hope to see you on May 17th at 115 Pleasant St NW Vienna VA 22180!
The North East Vienna Citizens Association is pleased to host a 2016 Candidates Forum for those running for mayor and town council. This year’s forum will be held on Thursday, April 21, from 7:30-9:30pm at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, 400 Center St South, and is open to anyone.
As with previous forums, each candidate will be invited to open with brief remarks, followed by a structured question and answer period, questions being collected by a panel of NEVCA officers and handed to our own past NEVCA president Dan Mulville, who has graciously agreed to moderate.
Vienna Town Council Elections: May 3, 2016
Mayor Laurie DiRocco is running unopposed while five candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for three Town Council seats in the May 3 Town of Vienna elections.
The TSC Meeting is on February 23, 2016 at 8:00 in Vienna Town Hall
At the request of the community, the Vienna Transportation Safety Commission authorized a traffic study along Beulah Road NE in Vienna to measure current automobile, pedestrian and bike traffic along the corridor from Maple Avenue to the Town line which is located just before Wolftrap Elementary School.
A table from the report:
Gorove / Slade Associates was hired to conduct the study. Automatic Traffic Recorders were installed and data was collected at multiple locations along Beulah Road from September 17th to September 28th, 2015. The report was intended to give traffic calming recommendations to the TSC.
Data showed a range between 11,320 to 12,146 vehicles per day on Beulah Road.
The posted speed limit is 25mph, and the data showed an average speed of 31mph.
Vienna residents who walk through Northside Park may have noticed some gnawed trees along Piney Branch this fall. Yes, it was the handiwork of at least one beaver who is hoping to stake a claim where Piney Branch runs parallel to the W&OD Trail.
NEVCA member and wildlife photographer Bob Meyers was able to capture the Piney Branch beaver recently when walking along the trail with his camera. Beavers are more active at night, but Bob was able to capture this little guy and shared some shots with us.
Known as “Nature Engineers,” beavers are considered a keystone species according to the Fairfax County Park Authority. My wife and I saw a beaver paddling up Piney Branch about 15 years ago from the W&OD Trail just past the Clarkes Crossing soccer fields, so I know how Bob must have been super excited to see this little beaver.
Beavers are North America’s largest rodents and are typically no threat to humans or pets. Although cute, you must remember that this is a wild animal and it should not be approached.
Northside Park is a 26 acre undeveloped park with a few walking trails. There is a paved trail from an access point at the top of Glyndon Street NE next to the Town of Vienna property yard. The paved trail connects to the W&OD Trail across an aluminum bridge at the town line. Parking is limited.
It is worth noting that the W&OD Trail will undergo repair work in early 2016. Piney Branch has caused extensive erosion and all trail traffic will be temporarily routed along the horse trail which runs parallel on the opposite side. Projections are for a March 2016 start date.
The Vienna Community and Learning Garden was enjoyed by many this summer, with lots of wonderful compliments. We are just now starting close it down for fall. The growing season started cool and very rainy, in July when former Vienna Parks and Rec Director Cathy Salgado left, the fence was moved, and then put back by the Town disrupting more than half the garden,
August dealt us a super hot dry month which made watering a challenge, as the water supply was mysteriously often not “on”.
But despite all that, two other knowledgeable key volunteers helped make the garden look beautiful, interesting and eye catching.
The new overhead sign was installed, however, the other two scouts working on the kiosk and compost bin have not yet started their projects.
More and more people inquire about volunteering, the interest and intention is there, but coming back to volunteer some time has only happened once. So, volunteers are needed.
I recently met with Leslie Herman, the Director of The Town of Vienna Parks and Rec Department to discuss the history and future of the garden. Anyone who is interested in volunteering should call or email Leslie.
If you are on the W&OD Trail near the Vienna Community Center, please stop and take a look, and hopefully it will inspire you to volunteer some time to this wonderful project.