Where We Live

Can-Do Spirit Keeps Leewood Looking Sharp

By Ann Cameron Siegal
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, November 8, 2008

Living with four dogs in a townhouse isn't easy, but Rose Weber and her canine friends can take their twice-daily romps in any of five well-maintained pocket parks tucked throughout Springfield's Leewood community.

In fact, most of Leewood's solid brick, three-story townhouses back to these oak-shaded grassy areas rather than to other townhouses.

Weber, who moved to Leewood five years ago while she was in the Marines, said it was such unexpected open spaces that drew her to the community, nestled on 18 acres just off the intersection of Braddock and Backlick roads.

Noting that Leewood was built three decades ago, she said, "The property's in good shape and has lots of original owners. That says something about the continuity and stability of the neighborhood."

Now, as secretary of the homeowners association, Weber touts another plus to the community: There's no management company. "We are strictly volunteer run. We're out and about and do much of our own work."

A landscape company mows the common grounds and small front yards, but residents do much of the fence mending, landscaping and bush trimming.

Not having to fuss with mowing a lawn drew Janet Rourke to Leewood in 1978. She had outgrown her high-rise apartment building but didn't want a single-family house.

"I traveled a lot then and wanted to lock and go," she said. With the yard mowed, "You can be gone for a month and no one would know."

Mandatory dues of $175 per quarter allow the association to keep the setting well-groomed, collect trash and cover other community expenses. "As the community has developed, we've wanted to do more," Rourke said. Recently, lighting was added to the common areas. An active online message board encourages communication among residents.

Newcomers receive a welcome packet that includes the usual resident directory as well as a list of contractors with good track records.

Residents invariably mention the quality of construction throughout Leewood, which was built in the late 1970s. There are five townhouse models, each with several variations. All have hardwood floors and at least three bedrooms. Some have walkout basements and most have wood-burning fireplaces. Brick firewalls between units extend above the rooflines.

Leewood's architectural review board conducts periodic inspections of townhouse exteriors. The board's goal, Weber said, is to be "helpful rather than just enforcers" when it comes to encouraging adherence to rules and guidelines.

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