As you can read in my just-prior posting, the Town surprised me by posting the video from last night’s meeting in a very timely fashion. For those of you who would rather not watch the entire video, here’s my “index” of the video. It’s an Excel workbook (.xls) showing times within the Town meeting video, and my brief notes for what was being said at that time, by whom. You can scan it for items of interest, then go to the video to see what was said.
Use this along with the Town’s video. You can find the Town’s video at this link. On my computer, the only browser that will play the video is Chrome.
I suppose that, because I did the work, I can use this index to point out a few things. Please keep in mind that times are approximate, and may be off by a few seconds here or there.
At 47:22 in the video, Councilman Noble discusses the fact that both of the pending MAC proposals have five floors. You can see my five-floor writeup at this link.
You can go to various times (Noble, 20:04, 27:35; Springsteen, 21:30, 26:21; Majdi 27:55, and there are others), about needing the results of the Town’s traffic study before proceeding with MAC. I think they’re kidding themselves about what that traffic study is about, and what use it will be for assessing future MAC-generated traffic on Maple. (Search for “The critical traffic study … that the Town is not doing.”)
You can hear concerns about how the visual preference survey results are being interpreted, ending with “the elephant in the room” at 41:45. (Most articulate about potential problems was Noble at 34:42, followed by Majdi at 40:09). I won’t even bother to link to my writeups of what I think of the visual preference survey approach, just to say, it’s not what I would have done in order to figure out what Vienna citizens want. (Hint: Just ask them.)
FYI, if you want to read some solid reporting about the Town’s visual preference survey, you should read this article in the Tyson’s Reporter, by Vernon Miles. Let me quote one paragraph:
"The most popular facade, with an average rating of 3.28, is based on Keene, New Hampshire. The downtown area depicted shows a series of square, brick buildings more reminiscent of Old Town Alexandria than Tysons. All of the buildings that scored above an average of three stars were the square, red-brick buildings commonly associated with older downtowns."
So Town staff’s interpretation of the survey is based on ten pictures with mean score of 3 or higher, where the best-scoring picture got …. 3.28. Hmmm.
Continuing with the video:
Councilman Noble gave the staff a bit of grief for not analyzing the comments from the visual preference survey (33:52), because then some third-party joker went ahead and did the analysis that the staff refused to do.
And then there are always surprises. Parking meters? (43:39).
But after I digested this a bit, and did the work to produce that index, there’s a big-picture point that really should not be missed. Just count all the times that the clearly pro-MAC Town Council members piped up. So, Councilwoman Sienicki thanked the staff for doing the visual preference survey (32:54). The Mayor cut discussion short in a few places. And that’s it.
I’m not quite sure what to make of that. Could be that if you’ve won, and know the dice are loaded in your favor, with Town staff clearly on your side, you don’t have to say anything. With all of that push behind it, it’s not like they have to do much of anything to railroad this next MAC round through. Could be I just heard what I wanted to hear. In any case, I think the silence from the pro-MAC Town Council members was clear. I think that’s a fact. I just have no clue what it means.