Taking Back the Neighborhood

Beverly Windsor doesn’t just walk when out for her daily exercise – she moves with pride through her neighborhood near Randol Mill Park, taking in the chirping birds, the landscapes, the greenery, the buzz of busy park activity.

Didn’t use to be this way.

Windsor and other walkers had to pay more attention to something far less pleasant: moving vehicles.

Before a sidewalk was extended along Oakwood Street as it curved at a near 90-degree angle, trying to get from the neighborhood to the park, and back, was a little like playing Russian Roulette.

“It’s a blind curve,” said Windsor.

Drivers coming around the corner wouldn’t see a walker – and the walker wouldn’t see the car – until it was too late. With no sidewalk, walkers would tiptoe along the guardrail, like tightrope performers.

“Talk about dangerous,” said Sue Perkins, a patrol member for the neighborhood.

Changes came when Windsor, Randol Mill Park West Citizens on Patrol president, and Perkins collaborated to secure grants that spearheaded a neighborhood offensive on the curve by applying for not one, but two Arlington Tomorrow Foundation Grants over spring and fall grant cycles in 2010.  The combined passion for the cause these two neighbors shared along with Sue’s skills in the grant-writing process proved to be very successful.

Both of their grant requests were awarded – $20,000 for one, $15,000 for the other – giving their Oakwood Sidewalk Improvement Project enough money to extend a sidewalk that keeps walkers shielded on the other side of the guardrail.

Now pedestrians have a nice sidewalk on which to stroll and less fear of cars barreling at them. Plus, a project bonus: new benches along the sidewalk where neighbors can sit and visit.

“We get lots of compliments, lots of thank yous, lots of ‘I love this,’” said Perkins.

Just another way to connect this tight-knit neighborhood.

“It enhances what’s already a very active and friendly neighborhood,” Windsor said. “I mean, we even know the names of everyone’s dogs.”

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