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Community Life in Kings Park West

A 35-year-old housing development offers neighborly love, activities

In Kings Park West, it’s all about community togetherness and the children.

It is the only community in the county where all three schools — the elementary, middle and secondary— exist in the same neighborhood, said Tony Vellucci, president of the Kings Park West Civic Association.

“Life in the community revolves around the schools,” he said.

It’s a place where people take pride in where they live, by pitching in and helping each other keep the neighborhood safe and clean. It’s a community that is involved.

Nestled between George Mason University to the north and Lake Royal to the south, 35-year-old Kings Park West offers parks, recreation and proximity. It’s close to the Burke Virginia Railway Express station, a large university, schools, restaurants and shopping.

“I think it’s probably a bit more of a close-knit community than I think you’d typically find around the Washington D.C.-area,” said Paul Gross, vice president of the Kings Park West Civic association. “There are communities within communities.”

Kings Park West Civic Association leaders draft a set of goals at the start of each fiscal year, in October. This year, the association wants to continue the increase in memberships. About 62 percent, or 1,154, of the 1, 864 homes in the community are members. Dues are just $15 per year, and they go toward benefiting the community as a whole, said Vellucci. The 2007 goal is to increase that membership number to about 80 percent of the total homes, which would bring in an additional $5,200 in revenue.

“Everybody loves the neighborhood,” he said.

VOLUNTEERS IN THE community often serve as “block captains.” The more than 100 captains represent his or her respective blocks. The civic association views them as the glue that holds the community together. They are also valuable recruiters for new members to the association and for volunteers.

This year, Vellucci said he hopes more volunteers will come forward for things like PTA, boy and girl scouts, pools and the civic association’s committees and block captains. He hopes to get about 20 volunteers for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which formed last year to better prepare the community for natural or man-made disasters.

“We’re a pretty big community, so we need more volunteers,” said Vellucci.

Another volunteer-driven area of the community is Royal Lake. Volunteers keep the lake and surrounding trails clean, said Gross, and this year they are expected to renovate trails and create new ones.

“That’s the kind of volunteering to overall improve Kings Park West and maintain it as a nice place to live,” said Gross.

SOME OF THE community’s concerns this year have to do with George Mason University’s future growth. The civic association has volunteers participating in the George Mason-Braddock Community Forum, as well as volunteers encouraging members to petition the university to move the large, bright sign the school put up at the corner of Braddock and Sideburn Roads. Encouraging legislators to support Del. David Bulova’s (D-37) legislation that would prevent future signs from going up without first following the county code is also a priority.

A new idea brought forth this year is increasing the amount of scholarship money the association awards to students each year. Since the dollar amount has not changed in more than 20 years, Vellucci said inflation alone should be grounds for an increase. The association currently awards three to four $1,000 scholarships each year, based on a student’s demonstrated abilities, not financial need. Ideas regarding changing criteria and increasing the number and/or the amount of the awards are being entertained, said Vellucci.