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Through the Woods

Burke Centre neighborhood offers small-town feeling in large community.

From a historic building, to trails, a pond and easy access to public transportation, the Woods community has it all.

The neighborhood is one of five in Burke Centre, a planned residential community with 5,862 residences. The Woods has about 1,200 of those homes, all of which are relatively affordable compared to the rest of Fairfax County, said Kala Quintana, the Woods neighborhood trustee on Burke Centre’s Board of Trustees.

“The nice thing about the Woods area is it’s a nice mix of single family homes, duplexes and townhomes,” said Quintana.

Since the home prices in the Woods are not sky-high, a lot of younger families have moved into the neighborhood, she said. In addition to young families with children, the community has a large military presence as well, which adds to the amount of volunteerism, said Quintana.

Among the 1,200 residences are miniature neighborhoods. The Woods community is made up of subsections, or clusters, that are organized based on residences with similar size and design features. The Woods community has 18 clusters, all of which provide a small-town kind of feel, said Robert Bennett, the Coffer Woods cluster representative.

“When you think about over 5,000 homes [in Burke Centre], it seems huge,” said Bennett. “When you break it down to the smaller increments, it makes for a nice little gathering. Most everybody here knows everybody.”

The Coffer Woods cluster consists of about 25 homes. Residents of the cluster get together for an annual party each summer, said Bennett, just as many of the clusters also do. Burke Centre offers activities and events on a grander scale, said Bennett, but the more localized events are what make the community feel more personal and quaint.

“Sometimes you feel isolated in this [Northern Virginia] suburban jungle,” said Quintana. “The reality is you at least know your neighbors in your particular row [or cluster].”

SOME ISSUES THE Woods neighborhood has been dealing with is the renovation project to its historic community center. The 18th-century building is almost cleared for an addition and renovation project that will make it Burke Centre’s largest community center. The Conservancy ran into a small delay when the county required it to file a Planned Residential Community site plan late last year. That plan is almost through its process, and once it is, construction can begin.

“It’s a positive benefit for the whole community,” said Quintana. “This will provide a nice venue in the community for any larger events that need to take place.”

Town hall-style meetings or community meetings by elected officials at the local, state or federal level will be able to take place in the new Woods center, she said. Enough space will also be available receptions for all kinds of events.

AN EXTENSIVE TRAIL system winds its way through all of Burke Centre’s five neighborhoods. The trails in the Woods community lead everywhere, said Bennett. They connect the Woods to Burke Centre’s other neighborhoods, and they also connect residents to local shopping centers and the Virginia Railway Express station.

“When we have these icy snow-days, you can’t really get snowed in,” said Bennett. “You can walk to all of the stores.”

Part of the construction process for the Burke Centre VRE parking garage, which is currently in phase two, includes adding paved trails to the VRE station via the Woods neighborhood. The community backs up to the tracks, said Quintana, so the additional trails will hopefully encourage more people to walk to the station, rather than drive, park and ride. A few walking bridges are also planned, since streams snake through the area.

In addition, the Woods residents enjoy the variety of activities provided through the Conservancy. From dance and yoga lessons, to art and sports, “there’s something for everybody,” said Quintana.

As for parks, the neighborhood doesn’t really have any that are designated. But the trails, woods and amenities at the community center provide just as much as a park would, said Bennett.