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How Do We Look?

Try looking at our community like it’s the first time you’ve seen it.

Last week I explained the broken windows theory and how crime can be invited to a neighborhood that looks like no one cares. It’s not just our neighborhoods that show a lack of respect and care, but the primary entrances to our communities also reflect a poor image.

I often wonder if I am the only one who sees our surroundings in this manner. Certainly, I don’t hear many people complain about community maintenance. I think we become immune to our surroundings and don’t notice issues like walks, curbs and gutters, overgrown foliage, signs, and litter because we see it every day. We become oblivious because it is so common.

In an attempt to engage people to see with “new eyes,” my husband and I created the “Welcome to Dale City from Minnieville and Prince William Parkway” video, in an effort to raise awareness. I hope as you watch this short film, you will see what people entering Dale City for the first time will see. In two minutes time, you can see the difference between property that is maintained and property that is not.

Now, if you didn’t agree with the theory that unkempt property invites crime, I hope you’ll note the many instances of graffiti (a crime) that have occurred on this stretch of road. I am not saying that if all the sidewalks were clean and edged, all the litter picked up, all the fences maintained and all the street gutters were clear there would be no crime…but I promise you that if the trees and weeds that obscure the fences were removed, the area looked clean and was well lit, the likelihood of graffiti would be small.

If crime still doesn’t concern you, consider this: How many of you have mortgages that are underwater? Would you refinance if you could? Have you considered selling your house, but can’t afford to take the loss? Did you consider your home part of your retirement income, think you could sell it to pay for elder care or use the equity to make major repairs?

Community appearance plays a huge role in property values. Just like it is important to have quality schools to attract new homeowners, it is important to have clean, welcoming neighborhoods. Here’s a good article to explain just what it means to live next to a neighbor who is not maintaining their property.

Everyone knows when you apply for a job, one wears their best clothes. If you’re going to church, you wash your hair, maybe men shave, and women wear makeup. When company is coming, you clean house, make sure everything is picked up. Why do we do these things? I do them because I respect my guests, my family, my neighbors and myself. Surely Dale City deserves the same respect!

If we want our property values to rise we simply have to put our best foot forward. New homeowners are not going to want to look in “the Dales” when there are so many communities out there that are shiny and new.

We Dale City residents have something wonderful…we have neighborhoods where people know each other and help each other. Unfortunately, we also have a lot of vacant homes and rental homes. If you want to change that, fill those homes with neighbors who have similar values, it can be done. First you have to see what newcomers see…and then we have to fix it.

Rich Anderson October 22, 2011 at 12:12 PM
As always, Connie gives us a thought-provoking piece with fresh perspective. Our community and the DCCA is blessed by her leadership! Del. Rich Anderson 51st House District
Cindy Brookshire October 22, 2011 at 02:49 PM
Clipping & cleaning up your yard and beyond...is a great way to add value to your property and your community -- just like clipping coupons and going a little further to donate food adds value to your grocery shopping & helps others. I hope more people will follow Connie's lead and take just one action for yourself and your neighborhood today. I nominate Connie for best use of a flip camera in creating a compelling video.
Lizzie M. Johnson October 22, 2011 at 03:25 PM
I am really feeling you on that because I hate to see paper, bags from mcdonalds , cans and bottles thrown on the ground, over flowing trash cans at bus stops. I find myself picking up trash as I walk down the street. I live in Rippon Landing off Forest Grove and i see very little of it because our maintenence people keep things up pretty good. I care about where I live.
Ginger Kopecky October 23, 2011 at 12:55 PM
You are so right Connie! This area is traveled by thousands of people daily and very much in need of repair. How a community presents itself affects not only the residents that live there but the potential newcomers. Long and Foster Realtors and Remax Realtors are both located along that stretch so people interested in buying in Dale City are getting their first impression of our community daily!
Connie Moser October 23, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Thanks to all of your for your support! Please share the article and the video. If enough people take notice we can get something done. Delegate Anderson, much of this is a VDOT responsibility. Volunteers have done a lot in this area, but it is a dangerous stretch of road.
Rich Anderson October 24, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Connie: Please send an email with specifics to Del. Luke Torian (he represents the 52nd District, which includes this section of Minnieville Road), your supervisor, and me (DelRAnderson@house.virginia.gov). Together, we can engage with VDOT to see what is possible. Even though this isn't part of the 51st District (which I represent), I will happily support the efforts of Del. Torian and your Supervisor--we all live in the same community. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Connie!
Connie Moser October 24, 2011 at 09:31 AM
Thank you for your suggestion, Delegate Anderson! I'll take your advice and send that out today. Citizens know VDOT has had to cut funding repeatedly and this may not be a priority issue for VDOT, but it certainly should be a priority for residents and businesses of Dale City.

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