Options for Oakton
June 2023 Survey Results
Options for Oakton released a survey on May 8, 2023 to gather data regarding Oakton residents' concerns about the EYA proposal and also about the level of communication about the development plans. The survey remained open until June 9, and O4O has analyzed the results. See our charts below. See also the full PDF Report.
Survey Question No. 1: Provide your Zip Code
This question was geared towards ensuring that most of the survey responses came from residents within the 22124 zip code. Five hundred and thirty five (535) of the responses did come from the main Oakton zip code. An additional 51 responses were submitted from residents in the 22181 zip code, which includes residents that live by Oakton High School. The remaining 62 responses came from a variety of zip codes and included two Vienna residents who own property near the AT&T site, at least two entries with typo errors and one zip code from California.
Survey Question No. 2
Survey Question No. 2 aimed at pinning down when Oakton residents learned about the EYA proposal for AT&T site development. Although the County had begun the SSPA process in October 2022, only 5% of respondents learned of the proposal at that time. The vast majority (65%) of survey respondents did not learn of the existence of the proposal until before the March 2023 workshop, and more than 34% of respondents learned of the proposal while taking the O4O survey.
Survey Question No. 3
Survey Question No. 3 sought to gauge the timing of residents’ awareness about the development plans. More than 63% of respondents did not find out about the proposal until just before the March 23 meeting, or once they learned of the survey. Only 5% of the respondents stated that they knew about the proposal when it was initially submitted to the County in October 2022.
Survey Question No. 4
This question presented a limited list of concerns and asked respondents to assess their level of concern for each. The following charts illustrate survey responses. Many respondents chose to reiterate these concerns in the write-in portion of the survey. Some of these comments are highlighted below.
The issues of most concern to survey respondents related to traffic and the lack of a good transportation infrastructure in Oakton. An increase in the number of cars in Oakton concerned 82% of all respondents. In addition, 44% chose to reiterate that concern in the write-in portion of the survey by specifically citing “traffic” as a concern.
A twin concern to the overall number of cars that the development would bring to Oakton was the increased possibility of dangerous traffic accidents. Eighty-six (86) percent of respondents expressed concern over the possibility that the development would bring more car accidents to Oakton, with 67% “very concerned” about the possibility.
Several respondents chose to write-in about the recent tragic, fatal accident involving Oakton High School students in 2022, and the lack of an adequate solution to the problem of dangerous and fatal encounters between pedestrians and cars in our area.
The story of Oakton’s lacking transportation infrastructure is well known by residents of the area, many of whom believe that current infrastructure does not support existing residents, let alone the addition of potentially thousands of new residents with the cars that will be necessary for them to work and live in the area. Oakton is still very much a suburban enclave, with the infrastructure common to that kind of neighborhood organization.
Survey respondents expressed themselves with regard to the lack of transportation infrastructure, with 82% of respondents considering it a concern. Furthermore, 6% of respondents included infrastructure concerns in their write-in comments.
Beyond traffic, survey respondents most often expressed concerns over general density and overcrowding in Oakton. For instance, the number of residential units initially proposed for the AT&T site development was either “very concerning” or “somewhat concerning” to 84% of respondents. In addition, 31% of respondents chose to write-in a concern related either to density or overcrowding.
Overcrowding of area schools was a concern for 83% of all respondents. In addition, 13% of respondents reiterated their concerns regarding school overcrowding in the write-in comments. Several residents wondered how the additional students would be incorporated into already overcrowded schools.
Another overcrowding concern for many residents related to the impact of AT&T site development on Borge Street Park, one of the only parks of size in the Oakton area. Sixty-eight (68%) of survey respondents expressed their concern that the park could be overwhelmed by the influx of new residents. In addition to overcrowding concerns, many survey respondents, including those supportive of development, expressed in the write-in comments that Borge Street Park should be expanded or otherwise protected during any future development of the AT&T site.
In addition to concerns related to the already existing park near the AT&T site, 85% of survey respondents expressed their concern over the loss of green space in general. More than 9% of the write-in comments reiterated this concern.
Although the survey did not directly address more specific environmental concerns related to the development, several respondents chose to highlight these concerns in the write-in comments. Almost 12% wrote comments regarding noise and air pollution, as well as a variety of environmental concerns, including the preservation of the small stream on the property.
Tied to the loss of green space was the twin desire to preserve mature trees all over the AT&T property. The developer’s initial proposal did state the intention to preserve the lines of mature trees along Chain Bridge Road, as well as the wooded “buffer” between the property and Borge Street Park. Regardless, 85% of respondents expressed concern that the trees would not be preserved, or that they would be lost in some way to the development.
Related to the loss of green space was the loss of open space of any kind in Oakton. The AT&T campus represents the last acreage in Oakton not designated as a park that has not been filled-in with either more residential or more dense commercial space. Although the survey did not directly ask how residents felt about open space in Oakton, 4% of respondents chose to mention it in their write-in comments.
The survey sought to gauge resident’s concerns regarding how development of the AT&T site would fit in with the character of Oakton. Officially, Oakton is an unincorporated, “census designated area” within Fairfax County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it has a population of roughly 36,000 people. Despite the lack of town status, many Oakton residents expressed pride in the area and worried that development of a “town center” on the AT&T site would damage the character of Oakton.
More than 69% of respondents expressed such a concern, while 13% of respondents reiterated and elaborated upon this concern in the write-in comments.
Due to its unique structure, age and pedigree, the AT&T building is more than just a commercial space. It was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF), one of the largest architecture firms in New York City, shortly after the creation of the firm in the mid-1970s. KPF came to prominence in 1976 when ABC hired them to redesign their studios in the City. AT&T then commissioned the firm to design the building in Oakton as one of their new suburban headquarters.
Although the AT&T building is technically not listed for historical preservation, research by O4O members has revealed that it is considered very important to KPF. Love the design or hate it, at least 63% of respondents were concerned about the loss of the structure.
While none of the write-in comments reiterated concerns about the loss of the building, several respondents described how the AT&T campus could be re-envisioned as a community center for Oakton