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Council Begins Strategic Planning Process for Town

Members use four-hour session to set goals, guidelines for strategic planning committee

In a four-hour session, council members detailed their goals, priorities and visions for the future of the Town of Vienna — the first step in a months-long strategic planning process that will provide a road map for future officials.

"We've been very fortunate in Vienna. I think maybe the people in office before us maybe had a vision that got us started," Mayor Jane Seeman said. "We need something now to continue down the road, to keep successful. We don't want to rely on dumb luck. We need a plan."

Officials met at James Madison High School for the Oct. 15 session, which Julia Novak and Catherine Tuck Parrish of Novak Consulting Group facilitated.  as a way to chart the town's future and drive initiatives and funding.

The council members, along with limited input from Town Manager Mercury Payton and other key officials who will serve on the strategic planning committee, agreed the town's vision should include smart growth strategies to maintain its small-town feel. The members also noted the town's desire to remain as autonomous from the Fairfax County government as it is now.

Several members pointed to the Maple Avenue Vision, which is in the process of being created, as an important project for the town — one that would impact the town's character and future development. 

While the council largely spoke in general terms about the vision, they did take time to pick out projects and issues they considered a priority — such as keeping town elections in May; revising the emergency preparedness plan; continuing the sidewalk project; implementing the new water plan; and completing process for parking garage proposal.

The council's input from the Oct. 15 planning session will be passed on to the Strategic Planning Committee members, many of whom observed the meeting, to be considered when drafting a strategic plan. The committee is scheduled to present a draft strategic plan in January.

"Details matter ... and getting things right matters. Working within our limits matters," Councilwoman Lori Cole said. "We're going to have different ideas of what right is in the end, about the big-picture right, but I think if we work the right way and come to the decisions in a good way, then the ultimate answer reflects that."

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