While it may have been coincidence that brought the three families together, the stable lifestyle they have enjoyed in the Prince George’s County neighborhood has kept them there for more than 20 years. Glen Allen has also evolved over that period, from a stark landscape of newly built homes to a mature neighborhood with large, leafy trees and landscaped lawns. A number of the original homeowners still live in the 400-house subdivision, built in phases.
On a recent weekend, Schult and Paquin were installing a light fixture at Sikorsky’s home. “We’re best friends. [The] wives do everything together,” said Sikorsky, 53, a teacher at St. Pius X School in Bowie. Paquin noted that six children living nearby were born in 1994. “They all hung out together growing up. . . . The kids played together, and the parents played together, too,” said Paquin, 49, whose four children are now 23, 20, 18 and 15. Those children took vacations together growing up, Schult said, and the families are also active at nearby St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church.
When it came time to raise their own families, the Paquins, Schults and Sikorskys were attracted to Glen Allen, one of the “new Bowie” subdivisions along Mitchellville Road near U.S. 301. The new sections offered larger homes than those in the original Levitt developments north of Route 50. “A lot of people in [Glen Allen] moved from other parts of Bowie,” said Paquin, who lived in the Kenilworth section of Bowie as a youngster.
Will Johnson, 45, and his wife, Karen, had lived in a Bowie townhouse before having their Glen Allen house built in 2000. On a recent Saturday, Johnson was talking in his front yard with his wife and two sons, 15 and 13, after his youngest son’s youth football game. “This neighborhood is good for kids,” said Johnson, 45, a train operator for Metro. “People are nice, very respectful. They keep up their properties.”
Adavi and Jyothsna Venkat, original Glen Allen homeowners, also moved from a Bowie townhouse in 1990. Over the years, they battled commuter traffic to jobs in Northern Virginia and considered moving there. But they would have had to pay considerably more for housing in Virginia, Adavi Venkat said. When their son, Rohit, was accepted into Eleanor Roosevelt High School’s magnet program and eventually went off to college, the Venkats decided to stay in Glen Allen. Adavi Venkat, 57, a native of India, has come to appreciate the neighborhood’s diversity. “From day one, we have been welcomed,” Adavi Venkat said. Even when he travels to India, “I just don’t get the feeling of home until I come back to Bowie. . . . Half of my life has been spent here.”
Those Glen Allen homes have managed to maintain value, despite a number of short sales and foreclosures in the neighborhood, said Roxanne Calloway, an agent with Long & Foster. Regular sales are going for about $350,000, while short sales have ranged from $219,000 to $285,000. “There are nice-sized homes for families,” Calloway said, noting that the neighborhood is just minutes from the Bowie Town Center and other shopping areas.
Karen and Bob DeFazio, now retired, had been looking for a bigger house within reasonable commuting distance to their jobs in Prince George’s County at the Census Bureau and NASA when they moved from nearby Kettering to Glen Allen in 1991. They were returning from a festival in Bowie one year, “took a wrong turn and found a neighborhood we didn’t know existed,” Karen DeFazio said. They got the sizeable home they were seeking, built to their specifications, in a neighborhood where the houses were relatively close together.
“I’m not one of those who wants to live out in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors,” said Karen DeFazio, 64. She and Bob, 67, quickly reached out to the other families on the street, organizing an ice cream social that has turned into an annual progressive dinner involving families from their immediate neighborhood.
Many newer subdivisions host such events, but the dinner has been held for the past 15 years, as the DeFazios have kept it going, according to other residents. “It’s great to take an afternoon to relax and catch up with the neighbors,” Schult said. “We’ve seen the kids grow up,” said Bob DeFazio.
Karen DeFazio is also the president of the homeowners association, which reviews any proposed changes and additions, such as decks, to the properties. Annual dues are $159, a relatively low fee made possible, DeFazio says, because the neighborhood lacks a pool or other facilities that often drive up homeowners’ fees. Trash and snow removal are handled by the city of Bowie. The association’s board is trying to restart a neighborhood watch program to augment city police protection but hasn’t received much interest. “We are a pretty secure little community,” Karen DeFazio said.
The neighborhood has a park near Mitchellville Road, and there are playgrounds nearby. Paved bike paths wind throughout Glen Allen, and nearby Allen Pond Park is one of Bowie’s biggest recreational facilities, a magnet for children and families throughout the city.
The first Glen Allen generations are growing older; the Schults’ daughters now attend Salisbury University and the University of Maryland. Steve Schult is grateful for the neighborhood, which provided them a good place in which to grow up. “There’s always been a strong sense of family values and community values,” he said.
Jim Brocker is a freelance writer.