Editor: I live in the town of Leesburg, and I have two children who attend Catoctin Elementary. I am on the board of the PTA there, and I am also a fourth-grade teacher at a small private school in Leesburg. I know many of the children who live in Leesburg Mobile Park through volunteering at the school and friendships of my children. I am a concerned citizen, and I would like to raise awareness about this issue.
Many parents and staff at Catoctin Elementary are concerned about the families of Leesburg Mobile Park and the negative impact losing the park will have on their children. It affects their ability to focus, learn, and form important relationships with friends and teachers. The uncertainty of losing a home and community can have a long-lasting impact on a child’s social-emotional and academic development. Many of the Mobile Park’s children are English language learners, and adding the threat of home insecurity widens the gap in their ability to have academic success in school.
Dislocating residents by allowing the buyer to redevelop the property sets a bad example for all of our kids and the future of our town. When I brought my son with me to the Q&A at Leesburg Mobile Park, he immediately found friends to run around and play with. He asked me after, “Why would they take A’s home away?” I explained that someone bought the property who may want to build something new there. And he said, “How can they do that? That’s just not right.” I think we sometimes forget the important things in life, and the unfairness of it all, until we see it through the eyes of a child. We are consumed with ideas of growth, progress, development, property values; we want more, more, bigger, better. Sometimes we lose sight of what we should truly value. We forget that these are actual families, not numbers on paper. The decisions and actions we take today will impact how future generations participate in the world around them. I love Leesburg, and I know that we are better than this.
As for relocating families to other affordable housing units in Leesburg, I have my concerns. Moving families to other affordable housing units does not replace their community. It is not just the individual homes at stake, but the community as a whole. If we allow Leesburg Mobile Park to be redeveloped, these families will be displaced. The park provides a place where low-income families can live dignified lives, supporting themselves through hard work and cooperation with neighbors and friends. Not only will we lose valuable members of our workforce, we will lose an entire community that provides families with a safe place to live, work, play, and grow.
I am happy that the council is pursuing alternatives for keeping this community intact. Let’s keep up the fight.
Angie Kollman, Leesburg