By Chuck Foster
Each spring, a pair of geese sets up a nest in my neighbor’s yard. This starts a multi-month relationship between the couple, me, my wife, and my neighbor. Daddy Goose is a constant and aggressive defender of the safety of his mate and their eggs. His near-constant patrol inside a roughly 100-yard perimeter and his aggressive manner toward trespassing geese is very impressive to watch. Daddy Goose appears to be on duty 24/7. We humans have learned to speak to him in a gentle tone, avoid eye contact, and stay at least four yards away from the nest. This approach allows us to go about our business without the risk of being attacked.
Unlike Daddy Goose, your Board of Directors is not constantly patrolling the neighborhood looking for violations of cluster rules, violations of Reston Association rules, and violations of county and state laws. This responsibility applies to us all. We are all Daddy Geese.
Periodically, the Board receives suggestions, concerns, and complaints. We welcome this dialogue because it encourages us to take a hard look at our priorities, our decisions, our practices, and the policies and rules that apply to cluster residents and their guests. For example, the Board recently revised several sections of the Lakeport Handbook (to be distributed via email). The revisions directly reflect dialogue we have had with residents about the interpretation, breadth, and enforcement of cluster rules.
Is the Handbook perfect? Of course not. A resident recently relayed a concern about a situation that is not specifically addressed in the cluster rules. In such a case, the Board welcomes a resident drafting a proposed change to address an area of concern. Some potential rules can be tricky to write and difficult to enforce, which means the Board could use help in the careful evaluation and drafting of a new rule. In addition, if a resident has a concern that is outside the scope of the cluster rules, the Board welcomes the communication. Actual examples include observing non-residents (primarily middle-schoolers) using a resident’s kayak without permission, littering, and throwing stones into the lake that were purchased to manage erosion around the common dock. In cases such as these, the cluster relies on everyone to be observant of unusual activities. One of these examples was resolved by the witness taking photos of the perpetrators from a safe distance and having them shared with the local School Resource Officer (SRO). The SRO recognized the students in the photo and spoke with their parents about the unacceptable behavior.
While discussing revisions to the rules, the Board had a hearty discussion about the importance of neighbors speaking directly with each other about concerns they may have. Sometimes calling on the Board to address an issue that can be resolved between residents is not the best approach. Of course, there are scenarios in which involving the Board is necessary. Alternatively, making your first call to the Board is not prudent if you witness activity or behavior that appears to be illegal and/or threatens injury or death. Your first call should be to the police. One example is coming across someone that appears to be experiencing a medical emergency. Another is finding your car door open and the contents of the vehicle removed.
There is no doubt we are all caring residents of this community, and we should work together to keep Lakeport a cluster that maximizes harmony, beauty, community spirit, and safety. We are all Daddy Geese.