Living In Park Owned Housing

Living In Park Owned Housing

Park manager John Melanson is lucky the 13th hole at the Burke Lake Golf Course is a short, 90-yard par three. Melanson lives in the house on the course, one of the many houses owned by Fairfax County Park Authority, and doesn't worry too much about stray golf shots hitting his house or car.

"It's such a short hole," Melanson said.

Melanson isn't the only one with parkland outside his front door. Houses dot park landscapes in the area, on the county level and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) level as well. Carol Ann Cohen, NVRPA spokesperson, said they have 10 houses within the park boundaries in their 19 parks. Fairfax County Park Authority has 17 rental properties.

BOTH FCPA and NVRPA tries to keep employees living in the houses and require all park employees that live in the houses to contribute to the park as well.

"They are expected to provide security, do exterior painting and minor repairs, and they get it at a reduced rate," Cohen said.

Judy Pederson, Fairfax County Park spokesperson, said the duties performed by residents vary as do the discounts that are taken off the rent. Some do more than others.

"We consider them to be caretakers," Pederson said.

Martin Ogle is the manager of Potomac Overlook Regional Park in Arlington. His house is on park land right in the flight line of airplanes going to Reagan National Airport.

"I enjoy it, this particular house sits right near the airport," he said.

He's had his share of maintenance and extra curricular activities. He has a tractor for snow removal as well.

"Basically I'm responsible for occasional painting, I'm responsible because I'm there. I'm the night watchman as well, as manager of the park. Over the years I've encountered many cases of parties," Ogle said.

Melanson moved in after the other Burke Lake manager moved out eight years ago and Ogle also moved in after the previous manager moved out 14 years ago. Pederson said that while they tend to rent the houses to park employees, they are available to non-park employees as well. There is a waiting list.

THE BURKE LAKE house was built in the 1920s. Ogle's house dated back to 1957. Others have more of an historic significance, according to Cohen.

"There is one in Occoquan Reservoir area that's probably pre-civil war," she said.

Cameron Run ranger John Sims is keeping his eyes open for a park house to move into.

"It's a pretty good deal, it's [the attraction] obviously the setting. I think it goes by seniority," he said.

Some parks have apartments built over their facilities, according to Melanson. A few that have apartments are Riverbend Park in Great Falls, Huntley Meadows in Alexandria and Nottaway Park.

Jeff Randolph recently moved from his park-owned house on Temple Hall Farm Park in Loudoun County. Randolph is the assistant manager of Algonkian Regional Park about 20 miles away. Temple Hall was a working farm and he lived in one of the five smaller houses on the farm. The animals played a part in his life on the 287-acre farm as well. His three children grew up there.

"We could go out at any time and see the animals, I think they'll [children] will miss it. My wife used to feed the animals on the weekends," Randolph said.

Although the house was NVRPA property, Randolph found it through a Realtor.