Tom Holman is the President of the Battery Heights Homeowners Association. He and his wife and have the distinct honor and privilege to have the Battery Heights Conservation Area at their back door. The Battery Heights Conservation Easement came into existence in 2002 as a result of the collaboration of builder Carr Homes, the City of Alexandria Office of Planning, the Alexandria Archaeological Office and NVCT, prior to the occupancy of the six homes that make up the HOA. The creation of the easement was, no doubt, benefited through the
encouragement and support of the many vocal neighbors who had come to appreciate the therapeutic value of this densely wooded area for many years. The property contained in the easement is owned by the Battery Heights HOA, which willingly accepts the responsibility for its preservation.
The conservation area consists of approximately 3 acres that are steeply wooded and, at its highest point, contains an earthwork Civil War Battery and rifle pit. The Battery was constructed as a part of President Lincoln’s plan to build a series of interconnected fortifications to defend Washington DC from attack by the rebel armies. This particular battery is located between what was then Fort Worth and Fort Williams. In the event of an attack, troops and field pieces would have been moved into position and enemy troops entering the ravine below would have been raked by crossfire from this battery and a similar fortified hill to the northwest. The earthworks are clearly visible today and the HOA is actively engaged in preserving them with the oversight of the Alexandria Archaeological Office.
On most evenings, weather permitting, you can find Tom and his wife on their patio taking in the setting sun and the abundant wildlife that appear throughout the year. Deer, fox, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels and many species of birds are frequent visitors. Recently they have observed a Barred Owl and its young offspring, who is slowly trying to perfect its hunting skills. Over the years they have welcomed many generations of young fox families that have denned nearby. Last Summer a young fox kit had to be rescued from their basement window well, not once, but twice. It is not unusual to see 3-5 fox kits playing and attacking each other during the Spring. On two occasions, they have observed adult foxes take squirrels who had gotten too far from the safety of a tree. A crow also met its demise when a sharp-shinned hawk took it out of midair. The hawk spent several minutes on the ground with the crow while being attacked by other crows. We have also seen many bald-headed male Cardinals at our bird feeder repeatedly over the years. We don’t know if their condition is the result of mites, disease, or of a genetic origin. The females seem to be unaffected.
Tom said the conservation easement has afforded him and his wife wonderful and unique opportunities to enjoy nature and wildlife up close. The tall trees are particularly beautiful in the early evening when the fading and dappled sunlight shines through and it’s not hard to imagine you are on a mountain top. Tom enjoys his breakfast on the patio whenever weather permits and is frequently visited by a very busy chipmunk looking for handouts. Tom said, “As you can imagine, this setting has contributed immensely to our sense of well-being throughout the years. It seems to wash away the ordinary trappings of city life.”
“Our experiences in dealing with the representatives of NVCT could not have been more pleasant and productive.” Said Tom Holman, President of Battery Heights HOA. “Their visits to the easement are always welcome and enriching and we are very grateful for their effort in making the easement a reality.”