A modern day “David and Goliath” story is playing out in the WMA suburb of Vienna. In this case “David” is an 87 year old widow, longtime resident of Vienna (47 years) and “Goliath” is the Virginia Department of Transportation, METRO and ineffectual or unresponsive governmental and political leaders. The battleground is a 15 foot swath of her property and the destruction of 49 trees (many of them are giant tulip poplars) that are being taken from the resident to provide a bike path adjacent to the Interstate 66 highway corridor. Over the last 40 plus years Shirley and her husband have seen their secluded cul-de-sac home become less and less tranquil as the I-66 corridor expands wider and wider and funnels more and more traffic (and noise) to and from Washington.
What makes this battle all the more traumatic is that this land grab will destroy a large section of a lifelong wildflower garden created by her deceased husband, a place of loving remembrance for her about their life together. Shirley has reached out to us for help because all of her efforts have fallen on deaf ears. Her many letters to involved agencies or officials have gone unanswered or have received “pass-the-buck” response all too typical of elected officials.
Not only will the land grab destroy trees and wildflowers, it will open up a public right away via the bike trail running adjacent to her entire previously secluded property line, raising a property and security concern that appears to be of little interest to Goliath. VDOT’s promised sound walls (promised by VDOT at public meetings of affected residents) are apparently not available for this resident because it would be too expensive or inconvenient to build. To protect the privacy, security and serenity of her long time residence and beloved wildflower garden, Shirley will have to pay for a fence, estimated at $13,000. Robert Frost said good fences make good neighbors. Apparently VDOT thinks otherwise.