Activities bond Belle Haven neighbors


Lucy Lamb lets her five children ride their bikes on the streets of Belle Haven and set up their lemonade stand there. Caroline, 10, is the star salesperson. I like doing the lemonade stand; one time, there was a line of about five people, boasted the young entrepreneur.

The Lambs 1940s-era house was chosen recently to be a set for an episode of The West Wing. The crew came in and moved furniture around before they started the cameras rolling, Lamb recalled.

It was quite the event, Ive never seen anything like it, she said. Word got around, and her home is now known as the West Wing house around the neighborhood.

Its all typical of the sense of togetherness that extends throughout Belle Haven. Nancy Burns, the president of the garden club, said this feeling is generated by the hobbies and clubs that the neighbors share.

You know people according to what you do, she said. The garden club, which Burns re-established in 2000, is just one form of networking in Belle Haven. Other community catalysts include Fort Willard, Belle Haven Country Club, Belle Haven Marina, and Pats Market on Belle Haven Road.

Lucy Lamb liked the community so much, she bought the home she grew up in.
I was five when we moved in here, she said. When Lamb and her husband were looking for houses and her parents were trying to downsize, it was a perfect fit. I only wanted to live here, she said. Dad knew I loved it, and theyre very happy Im here, she said.

When not either peddling lemonade or pedaling their bikes, the children enjoy the country club, too.

Mary Elizabeth Duke was a childhood acquaintance of Lambs who also moved back to Belle Haven. With two children, she is now president of the Belle Haven Womens Club and a country club member.

I loved the neighborhood, I grew up here and I thought it would be a good place for my children to grow up, since  it seemed to have everything we needed, Duke said. One of her children recently attended a neighbors birthday party at the country club.

It was a pool party with swimming, pizza and ice cream, Duke recalled. It was fun. The family also enjoys the marina, the bike trail and the wildlife at the Dyke Marsh Trail.

George Stevens manages the marina, which is a national park between the Mount Vernon Bike Trail and the Potomac River. Stevens runs the boat slip rentals, boat ramp and sailing school, where Belle Haven residents have taken classes through the years. This is a great resource for them, he said.

One local man, Mike Martin, started going to the sailing school at age eight. He became almost an Olympic competitor in sailing, Stevens said. When the Park Service almost closed the marina, the residents of Belle Haven were very vocal, he recalled.

Pats Market, on Belle Haven Blvd. next to the golf course, is a gathering place as well as a quick stop for necessities. Tommy Garrett, a boat owner who launches at the marina, has been coming to Pats for at least 30 years. Everybody gets pizza, he said.

Thats a complement to owner Manuel Hernandez. Pat, the namesake of the market, sold the store in 1975, and it changed hands a few times since. Hernandez does all the cooking but, he said, the place will always be Pats.
It is a landmark for customers, he explained. Thats why I didnt change the name: People would get mad.

Yet another gathering spot is Fort Willard, the ruins of an old Colonial fort located in the middle of the community and maintained by the Fairfax County Park Authority.

Part of Washington D.C.s defenses in the 1800s, the fort more recently was the site of the neighbors July 4 picnic.