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In Arlington, a neighborhood lures back the people who grew up there

Where We Live | Douglas Park in Arlington, Va.

December 12th, 2017 - Douglas Park in Arlington, Virginia The 1400 block of South Pollard Street in the Douglas Park neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia. Justin T. Gellerson for The Washington Post (Justin T. Gellerson/For The Washington Post)

Caitlin Wittig, 42, said she grew up in the Arlington, Va., neighborhood of Douglas Park from the time she was 3, and after having moved away hoped to return someday.

The middle school teacher said her dream came true last year when she and her husband, John Stewart, 47, moved into a house she learned was for sale through neighbors in Douglas Park.

Since her parents still live in the house where Wittig grew up, it was not hard to know what was going on in the neighborhood.

"My parents' neighbors are the same neighbors we had when I was growing up," Wittig said. Even when her parents lived in Geneva, for her father's job while she was in college, they kept the house. "There are people in the neighborhood who I've known for a long time," she said. "It's a friendly neighborhood," said Wittig. "And it's organized."

Indeed, Douglas Park is the kind of place where people stay.

"If people move in, they tend to be here for a good long time, if they're not transferred," said Adam Henderson, president of the Douglas Park Civic Association.

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Douglas Park, located south of Columbia Pike (Route 244) in Arlington, is a diverse neighborhood, according to Henderson, who has lived there since 1998. "It's a good mix of people who have lived here 30 to 40 years."

Green space and walkability: Newcomers continue to choose Douglas Park for its green space, convenience to the District and transportation options — Interstates 66 and 395 and Route 50. In addition, residents can walk to the Village at Shirlington and Columbia Pike, depending on where they live in the neighborhood. Ethnic eateries as well as American-fare restaurants dot the pike, as do entertainment venues and other retail outlets.

Douglas Park housing — apartments, condominiums, duplexes, townhouses and single-family homes — is as varied as the residents. "The majority of the housing is postwar — 1945 to 1955. You have a whole range of housing types, sizes," Henderson said. The community, which was laid out in 1927, combined two subdivisions once known as New Arlington and Douglas Park. A section of the original Douglas Park is now part of Nauck, an adjacent neighborhood, according to the civic association's website.

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Adam Harrington, 35, who bought his first house with his girlfriend, Geri Okeson, 34, in Douglas Park 16 months ago, agrees. "People are willing to go out of their way to help others out," he said. For example, on the community email discussion group, someone might request something simple — to borrow a rake.

Harrington, an accountant, has wanted to live in a single-family home as he did growing up in Brookeville, Md. He likes the "sense of community" he has noticed since moving to Douglas Park.

Newcomers also like the location. "It's very convenient to everything," said Jackie Massie, 37, a government contractor who works in Ballston. She was able to find child care for her daughter, Violet, 2½. "It's very family-friendly." In addition, the neighborhood itself is "very walkable," Massie said.

Parks and recreation: Within its boundaries there are three Arlington County parks: Monroe Park, Douglas Park and Doctor's Run Park, as well as a dog park.

Douglas Park at 1718 S. Quincy St. includes a playground for children, nature trails, a gazebo, a stream, a picnic shelter and a stone fireplace on five acres. Monroe Park at 1330 S. Monroe St. is a small fenced-in area with a playground. At 1301 S. George Mason Dr. is the six-acre Doctor's Run Park, with picnic tables, charcoal grills, a playground, a volleyball court and a paved trail.

An additional green space is Fort Barnard Park at 2101 S. Pollard St., with five acres near Fort Barnard Community Garden. Across the street is Fort Barnard Dog Park. The park has baseball, softball and basketball facilities as well as a paved trail and a playground. The community garden is one of seven Arlington County gardens. The annual rental fee for plots ranges from $25 to $60.

Three Arlington County community centers serve the area: the Arlington Mill Community & Senior Center at 909 S. Dinwiddie St., the Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center at 4200 S. Four Mile Run Dr. and Walter Reed Community & Senior Center at 2909 16th St.

A farmers market is held Sundays at the Walter Reed community center, and a second one is in the works for the Arlington Mill community center on Saturdays.

The civic association organizes events, including the 35-year-old Fourth of July Parade and Picnic. The Halloween Trail of Terror, a newer event, collects food for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. The Douglas Park Holiday Fund Drive raises funds and wraps gifts for students in need.

Living there: Douglas Park is a triangular-shaped neighborhood bounded by Columbia Pike to the north, South Walter Reed Drive to the east and South Four Mile Run Drive to the south and west.

According to Mike Webb, a real estate agent with Re/Max Allegiance, in the past year 54 properties sold in Douglas Park, including 28 single-family homes, three duplexes, two townhouses and 21 condominiums. They ranged from a one-bedroom, one-bath condominium for $309,900 to a five-bedroom, three-bath single-family renovated house for $970,000.

There are 15 properties on the market, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bath condominium for $314,900 to a five-bedroom, three-bath single-family house for $1.595 million.

Schools: Randolph Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Middle and Wakefield High. Students who live toward the edges of the neighborhood attend other elementary and middle schools.

Transi t: Douglas Park can be reached from the Court House Metro stop on the Orange and Silver lines by connecting to the 77 Arlington Transit bus that runs as far as Shirlington. The 84 ART bus connects Douglas Park with the Pentagon City Metro station on the Blue and Yellow lines during rush hours. Numerous Metro buses on the No. 16 route stop along Columbia Pike heading to Pentagon City and the District.

Crime: In the past 12 months, eight aggravated assaults, five burglaries and five robberies were reported in Douglas Park, according to Arlington County Police.