Spring Hill Community Association was named Community Association of the Year in the Medium Category. They are managed by Gates Hudson Community Management, AAMC. This is the essay submitted with the community’s application.
By Pat Davidson
Built on the grounds of the former Lorton Prison, the Spring Hill community has a colorful past and a bright future. The federal government sold the facility to Fairfax County with the stipulation that existing buildings be preserved and surrounding land be used for open spaces, parks, housing, and recreation. One parcel was set aside to build the Spring Hill Senior Campus.
In March 2006, the “pioneers” moved into Spring Hill. Amid the construction and unfinished streets, they fashioned an active lifestyle and forged a community that residents proudly call home.
Spring Hill offers residents who moved here from down the street, across the country, and over the ocean choices of living in single-family homes, condominiums, villas, apartments in historically preserved prison buildings, or assisted-living and memory care residences. Our residents, who speak 25 languages, have learned to understand and value the customs of others at international club-sponsored dinners and have shared their diverse cultures. Our professor started a speakers’ series where George Mason University professors discuss a variety of topics. Our artists, knitters, and Laughing Yoga gurus have conducted classes to share their particular talents. Our lawyers, engineers, nurses, accountants, gardeners, and singers have contributed their expertise to shape Spring Hill into a vibrant and harmonious community.
Remaining a great community is a continuing process. Our board had the foresight to create a strategic planning committee. Armed with CAI best practices, skilled and determined residents started to “imagine the possibilities.” First, the community conducted a baseline survey that generated an incredible 61 percent response rate and identified where we were and where we wanted to go as a community. Second, residents participated in focus group sessions and identified our community’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Residents brainstormed over 300 ideas that were organized, analyzed, and normalized in a residents’ request list. Requests that weren’t strategic were addressed with minimal expense. Third, the findings were presented at a standing-room-only town hall meeting. Over the last two years, we upgraded the fitness equipment, installed ADA-compliant doors, established a caring group based on the village concept, developed an emergency preparedness plan, and hired an activities director. The residents are the strategic plan’s real authors.
A key community value encourages residents to be involved in the community, its environment, and the greater metropolitan area. We obtained a grant from Fairfax County’s Neighborhood Enhancement Partnership Program to construct a rain garden. Residents and two grandchildren donated 275 hours of love, sweat, and labor to transform a nondescript piece of land into a place of community pride. Our project leader received the County’s Environmental Excellence Award. When it snows, we apply sand not chemicals on the streets and sidewalks. We celebrated Earth Day 2019 with speakers who talked about recycling, efforts to save the Eastern Bluebird from extinction, and solar energy benefits. A fifth grader appealed to us that we remain active in saving the environment.
As stewards of the land, our residents are committed to leaving the world a better place for our grandchildren.