As many of you already know, Mount Vernon is a wonderful place to live, offering many amenities to its residents. However, newcomers may not be aware of all our area has to offer.
If you haven't already done so, be sure to visit the home of our first president. I encourage this because Mount Vernon is the cornerstone of our community. This landmark is not only our district's namesake, but is an ever-evolving neighborhood where history lives and grows. If you are a history buff, you will also enjoy a visit to Gunston Hall, home of George Mason, and Woodlawn Plantation on the other side of Richmond Highway.
The Mount Vernon Community is one which encourages participation on all levels. If you have young children, the PTA may be your first avenue of involvement. Hopefully those youngsters are active and like taking part in sports. Whether this happens through the school system, scouting, parks, recreation and community services or on one of the many soccer, baseball, softball or basketball leagues depends on your joint decision with your children. Our high schools offer a plethora of choices in after-school activities as well.
For those with a desire for less structure, there are two Fairfax County Park Authority-managed recreation centers available for residents. The Mount Vernon Recreation Center located on Fort Hunt Road and Belle View Boulevard offers a wide range of exercise programs, ice skating, water aerobics and swimming. The smaller George Washington Center, located next door to the Riverside Elementary School on Old Mount Vernon Road, offers a variety of water activities, treadmills and stationary bikes.
If you'd just like to take a walk, try the trail along the Mount Vernon Parkway early one morning with the Potomac River by your side. The fall foliage is beautiful, the vistas breathtaking and the sight of egrets, blue herons and wild ducks will take you away from your daily cares. If your heart's desire is sailboating, you can do this into early fall at the National Park Service's Belle Haven Marina. For those who like to fish, the Potomac River is one of the best bass fishing areas on the East Coast.
Just off the Mount Vernon Parkway is Fort Hunt Park, owned and operated by the National Park Service. On a warm summer Sunday evening, many of our residents gather at the Park to hear free concerts sponsored by the Park Service by artists offering a wide range of music from classical to country and western to Chinese.
ON RICHMOND HIGHWAY, a new county facility was recently completed. This five-story building, known as the South County Center, offers an array of programs -- senior day care, senior and teen centers, conference facilities for neighborhood organizations, e-government facilities and other service agencies to help those most in need. New housing developments have replaced once underutilized sites. We are an ever-expanding, energized part of Fairfax County.
In the southern portion of Mount Vernon District, we are fortunate to have two major parks and a fish and wildlife refuge. Mason Neck State Park and Pohick Regional Park offer opportunities for camping, hiking, boating, swimming and golfing. At the National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, canoeing and bird watching are common activities. The Refuge provides a natural habitat for the American Bald Eagle, where this majestic bird is frequently seen nesting or flying overhead.
Soon, the approximately 3,000 acres where once stood the D.C. Correctional Facility in Lorton, now known as Laurel Hill, will be resplendent with parks, trails, museums, new homes, schools, an arts center, a new high school, and a championship golf course.
Perhaps you want to try your hand in civic matters. The Mount Vernon District has more than 150 civic and homeowners associations, each of which is not reluctant to let me know if something goes awry in their communities. Many of these associations belong to one of two umbrella groups -- the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations or the South County Federation in the southern part of Mount Vernon District. Through their elected officers and board members, civic associations participate in and influence outcomes on land use, transportation, school, environmental, and county budgetary issues.
One event of significance to residents is the Mount Vernon Annual Town Meeting which I have been sponsoring since I was elected in 1987. In the year 2005, Feb. 5 to be exact, we will hold our 18th Annual Town Meeting, at which citizens will have an opportunity to hear from and ask questions of the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, County Executive, School Superintendent, and Police Captains from both Mount Vernon and Franconia. The Town Meeting will be publicized in detail as we move closer to that date.
Just for the fun of it, the Mount Vernon Coalition holds Mount Vernon’s own “Community Day” each spring at the Walt Whitman Middle School. In June, following this event, plan to take your family to the Fairfax Fair for a day of pure entertainment from county displays to carnival and pony rides, arts and crafts and laser light shows. In the evening, popular performers present a wide choice of musical entertainment.
One of the special features Mount Vernon has to offer from mid-May to mid-November is the Farmer's Market held in the parking lot of our wonderful Sherwood Regional Library (one of three excellent libraries we are fortunate to have in our district) each Tuesday from 8 a.m. - Noon. Fresh produce, flowers, plants, herbs, and baked goods are provided by local growers.
FINALLY, ANYTHING you want to know about Fairfax County can be found at our website -- www.fairfaxcounty.gov. Current information on the Mount Vernon District is available by navigating to our site from the Fairfax County home page, or by going directly to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/gov/bos/mvd/mvd.htm. And if you can’t find it there, don't have access to a computer, or simply would prefer to talk with someone, please call my office at 703-780-7518. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We can also be reached through e-mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, I hope my enthusiasm has stimulated you to participate in your community and its many activities. If you are a newcomer reading this message, I welcome you wholeheartedly. If you already are a resident of the Mount Vernon District, I don't have to convince you of the benefits of living here and hope that you continue to enjoy all the best that our district offers.