Saturdayy, I spent an hour and a half picking up litter at the commuter lot on Dale Boulevard and Gemini Way. I really only finished the front part of the lot, where the Winter Farmer’s Market is held on Sunday.
I try to make a pass by this lot most Saturdays because the Farmer’s Market is a real jewel for our community and I think it should look as welcoming and attractive as possible.
That thinking is what made me and some friends and volunteers work to remove the old, overgrown, unkempt vegetation in the front of the lot (by the sidewalk) and replace with 44 rosebushes. It was a big job and a lot of work to remove one tree and all the old bushes, poison ivy and honeysuckle vines. It required coordination with several county agencies, VDOT, and our supervisor. We volunteers pooled our money, solicited donations and got good pricing through the friend of one of our volunteers.
You’ll be seeing them bloom again soon, as warmer temperatures are beginning to entice the rosebushes to produce new leaves. Those roses are symbolic of what I see in Dale City:
There was a space that was once beautiful. It had been planted with Red Twig Dogwood, a type of bush, that when cared for properly would have produced color in three seasons and would even have shown an interesting color in bare branches in the winter.
Unfortunately, like nearly everything that concerns care, low maintenance does not mean “no maintenance.” Funding for landscaping is a low priority for VDOT, and that is certainly understandable. After all, we want our roads paved and our potholes fixed and that is certainly more important than taking care of some old bushes!
Left alone, with only minimal pruning, those dogwood bushes languished. They ceased blooming, and became overgrown with wild honeysuckle. Weeds moved in and people threw their trash into the bushes. It looked like no one cared about that space.
That scenario is equivalent to all of Dale City. We started with beautiful, new homes that were modestly priced and were the pride and joy of many new owners. A community evolved, mostly from military folks who were stationed nearby. Neighbors all knew each other and often watched their home being built. Can you imagine how exciting it must have been, seeing houses rise from land that had never been anything but vacant space? When stores and shopping nearby were added it must have seemed such luxury not to have to drive all the way to Woodbridge to go to the Giant supermarket!
Years passed and Dale City continued adding new homes farther and farther down Dale Boulevard. We love “shiny and new” in America! We trade our cars every few years, we buy new clothes, and we try new hairstyles. What happens to the old? We neglect the old. We ignore the old. We don’t do the maintenance and renovation needed to keep things in new condition.
There are some exceptions to the rule: There are the original homeowners who remain and still love their homes. They take great care and expense to maintain them. There are some people who have a natural sense of pride and know their homes and yards reflect their character.
We know we can’t go back in time. That’s a fact. We need to take a good, long look at our current situation in Dale City and start planning for a better future. That’s what we’re going to be working on in the Neabsco Action Alliance. We’re going to be setting some goals, and working with neighbors, business and government to improve our community.
We are still in the formative stage: defining the shared vision. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, April 10, at 6:00 PM in Room 107B at the Development Services Building at the County Complex. We invite anyone who has a desire to see improvement, has concern for their community, wants to see a brighter future, and hopes to improve property value to join us. You can also visit us on Facebook and find us on Google+ or LinkedIn.