The Washington Post
In a busy world, this community offers ways to slow down
People of all ages are attracted to this ‘sanctuary of nature’
When Cindy Crist prepared to move from Maryland to Vienna nearly 25 years ago to be closer to her sister, her priorities were simple: a house convenient to Washington and access to nature.
The Tanglewood subdivision provided that and more, she said, comparing the neighborhood to the TV sitcom “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.” Crist, president of the Tanglewood Community Association ( TCA), called it a friendly community with people of all ages and beautiful wildlife.
The community has 149 Colonial and split-level homes built in the 1960s and ’ 70s. Bisecting the neighborhood is 10-acre Tanglewood Park, with walking paths and a bridge across part of the Difficult Run stream. The park, owned by the TCA, was designated in 2022 as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, recognizing that it has food, water, shelter and places to raise young, and that it employs human practices that support wildlife. Volunteers will soon install Certified Wildlife Habitat signs throughout the park.
“We are sensitive to keeping the park as natural as possible,” Crist said. The TCA organizes an annual spring park cleanup for residents to clear debris. It has also started working with Fairfax County authorities to teach a plant-education program to help future landscaping.
Another example of community involvement in the park is the installation of benches and picnic tables to honor former residents and park volunteers. In 2022, a bench donated in memory of Don Swinney was delivered unassembled, and volunteers quickly arrived to build it.
“When something needs to be done, members hear about it, and they just go do it,” Crist said. “I feel very safe, and I know neighbors are looking out for me.”
Crist does the same for others. When Stephanie Nunez, who moved in just over a year ago, recently messaged Crist about a lightbulb being out in one of the lampposts, Crist promptly replaced it, Nunez said.
Nunez, who has two sons, said children can walk to Flint Hill Elementary and James Madison High schools. Residents also greet each other on the street, Nunez said. “We’ve lived in neighborhoods in Vienna where that’s not the case.”
Lots of neighbors attended TCA’S annual meeting, demonstrating that “people want to know their neighbors, and they care about what’s happening in the neighborhood,” Nunez said. “To me, that speaks really highly.”
After moving in, Nunez and her husband found papers containing the email of their home’s original owner. They reached out with questions about the construction of the house, thinking a reply would be a “long shot,” Nunez said, but they connected and talked on the phone for more than an hour. “It was such a nice conversation. It just sort of added to the character of the house itself and Tanglewood.”
The park is home to deer, fox and various birds. “It’s incredible,” Nunez said. “My husband is originally from Georgia, and he didn’t think that he would find this much nature in the [area].”
The deer annoy some residents, because they feed on hostas, azaleas and other plants, but Kelly Olafsson, a resident since 2020 and a local real estate agent, enjoys them. “It’s just spectacular to look out your window and see them sleep in the yard,” she said. The community is “a sanctuary of nature,” said Olafsson, who grew up in Great Falls.
One of the reasons she and her husband moved to Tanglewood is because of the public Peterson Lane Park at the end of their street — the perfect spot for their Thanksgiving football game, Olafsson said. That park is about 51/ acres and is owned
2 jointly by the town of Vienna and the Fairfax County Park Authority.
It’s also easy to walk to downtown Vienna, especially because Tanglewood has sidewalks, unlike some other Vienna neighborhoods, Olafsson said. “My husband and I have never been huge walkers,” she said, but they now sometimes walk a few miles a day, often to a coffee shop or one of the many local restaurants.
The town also holds various events, such as its Chillin’ on Church block party, Viva Vienna festival, Oktoberfest and Halloween parade. “Most towns don’t have all of that,” Olafsson said. “It’s the town that hasn’t been lost in the busy world of today.”
TCA’S annual dues are $150, which go toward maintaining Tanglewood Park and hosting community events.
Living there: Tanglewood is bordered by the Lawyers North neighborhood and Lawyers Road to the northeast, Peterson Lane Park to the southeast and Vale Road to the west.
Olafsson, a real estate agent with Re/max Distinctive, said no houses are on the market. Over the past 12 months, eight houses have sold. The highest-priced was a five-bedroom, four-bathroom home for $1,495,000, and the lowest-priced was a fourbedroom, three-bathroom home for $901,000. The average sales price over the past 12 months was $1,061,203.
Schools: Flint Hill Elementary (for homes west of Tanglewood Park) or Louise Archer Elementary (for homes east of Tanglewood Park), Thoreau Middle and James Madison High.
Transit: Residents have easy access to Interstate 66, Dulles Toll Road, and the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. The Vienna/fairfax- GMU Metro station on the Orange Line is about three miles away. Dulles International Airport is about 10 miles away.