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Respecting the Neighborhood

Burke Centre and Kings Park West homeowners recognized for thoughtful design and upkeep of their homes.

The Burke Centre Conservancy and the residents at two Kings Park West homes picked up Best of Braddock awards for their contribution toward keeping the Braddock District safe, attractive and vital — the topic of Supervisor Sharon Bulova’s (D-Braddock) recent spring town meeting.

While the meeting dealt primarily with enforcing zoning laws and cleaning up the neighborhoods where zoning violators were detracting from the overall beauty of the community, the BOB winners did, and continue to do, their share of increasing the overall appearance of the community.

Bulova said the awards help spread good deeds by recognizing those who have "really gone out of their way to make the Braddock District the special place it is."

"By telling the stories of what people have done, and the examples they set,

"I find that you’re inspiring other people to follow suit," she said. "Good deeds are contagious."

Russell and Ruth Hall and Kevin and Sylvia Gladd, each won in the neighborhood enhancement or beautification category for individual homeowners. The four homeowners did extensive work that really fit in with the surrounding community, said Bulova. Keeping things in character with the rest of the neighborhood is a goal the homeowners sought to achieve.

"We have spent the better part of the last two years completely rebuilding the house," said Russell Hall. "We wanted the house to look new and updated, but not so that it would stick out."

THE HALLS moved to Kings Park West about nine years ago as renters. The family didn’t think they’d be in the area long enough to buy, since Russell Hall only expected to be stationed at the Pentagon for about two years before going back out on assignment with the U.S. Air Force. He ended up working at the Pentagon for about four years, and then decided to retire after 32 years with the Air Force.

"We really like the Burke area and we think Kings Park West is a wonderful community," he said.

The Halls bought the home they were renting, but its age was showing. Built in 1967 and lived in by renters for the majority of the time since, their home needed some improvements. The original, single-pane windows were still intact, and the home hadn’t been painted routinely.

"The house was just an energy nightmare; tragically inefficient," said Russell Hall.

Russell Hall and his son did a lot of the work, and a neighborhood teen and another neighbor also helped him with some of the construction. He said virtually every inch of the home was touched with some kind of upgrade or repair, so keeping things in character with the neighborhood was not a sure thing with that much work to be done.

"While we can’t legislate aesthetics, and we cant legislate the design of homes, we can encourage people to build in a way that’s compatible and attractive," said Bulova. "And that’s what these homeowners have done."

KEVIN AND Sylvia Gladd also wanted to upgrade their home, but their reasoning was more for space than anything else. They wanted more of it, but after looking around, they chose not to leave the Kings Park West neighborhood. So the couple decided to build an addition to their home.

"Our goal was to have it fit nicely into the neighborhood, and look like it belonged there," said Sylvia Gladd. "It’s a great neighborhood, and I only want to see it change for the better."

Sylvia Gladd said there are certain things you look for in a new home, and the Gladds wanted those things, but they wanted them in their existing home and neighborhood.

"They modernized and made more room for themselves," said Bulova. "But they did so in a way that architecturally compatible and compatible in size and scale with the rest of the community, and that’s exactly what we want to see in Fairfax County."

The Burke Centre Conservancy won the community association category for neighborhood enhancement or beautification. The Conservancy takes great pride in the upkeep of each of its five neighborhoods, by narrowing its focus to what it refers to as clusters, or smaller neighborhoods within each neighborhood. From litter patrol along the Burke Centre Parkway, to a wetlands remediation project, Burke Centre does what it can to keep the neighborhood clean and attractive, said Patrick Gloyd, Burke Centre’s executive director.

"We have a very active architectural review board," said Gloyd. "It makes sure things in the community are harmonious."

One method that has been effective, said Gloyd, is the inspection process. When a neighbor complains about a home on his or her block, the Conservancy inspects the entire street. A resale of a home also triggers inspections of the entire street.

"It’s one of the basic reasons to have a homeowners’ association; to have architectural control in order to maintain [or increase] home values," said Gloyd.