Shared from the 8/6/2018 The Virginian-Pilot eEdition

Atlantic Shores Retirement Community named area’s first Pearl Neighborhood for conservation

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COURTESY PHOTOS

A vegetable garden, above, and rain barrel, below, used by residents of Atlantic Shores Retirement Community.

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The Atlantic Shores Retirement Community has at least 30 percent of its homeowners who have received the Pearl Homes designation through Lynnhaven River NOW.

Residents and staff at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community are working to conserve, re-use and recycle natural resources.

The 55-and-older active adult community, which sits on 100 acres adjacent to Red Wing Lake in Virginia Beach, was named the first official Pearl Neighborhood in South Hampton Roads by the Lynn-haven River NOW partnership.

The title is given to residential communities that show they care about the environment and establish programs to help restore and protect Virginia Beach waterways.

Kathy Parks, director of residential services, said the residents want to do better with the environment.

“And they want to help Atlantic Shores be more green,” Parks said.

Helen Kuhns, assistant director and Pearl program coordinator for Lynnhaven River NOW, said residents were eager to be the first to earn the designation for the newly launched program.

“They took the ball and ran with it,” Kuhns said.

In January, residents formed the Atlantic Shores Green Committee which is a group of about 10 residents dedicated to making a positive impact on the local environment.

The committee was instrumental in helping the community get its certification, which included hosting a Lynnhaven River NOW educational opportunity, at least 30 percent of the community established as Pearl Homes and created at least one environmentally-focused community project.

Donna Hudgins, committee chair, said in a news release they are passionate and committed both as a group and as individuals and want to do what they can to preserve the planet.

“This will only become more important as time goes on, so we know this legacy will be carried on by future Atlantic Shores residents,” Hudgins said.

The first project – a system of rain barrels used to convert roof run-off into a water source for courtyard garden irrigation – is in place. Residents joined together to plant and tend 65 garden plots in the community’s Victory Garden.

Lynnhaven River NOW has fostered public/private partnerships since 2002 to decrease pollution along the Lynnhaven River. The organization also has Pearl Homes, Pearl Schools and Pearl Faith programs. A Pearl Business Awards program was recently instituted, too.

More than 30 percent – or 140 residents at Atlantic Shores – worked to make their residences a designated Pearl Home by installing programmable thermostats, sealing ductwork, and by using biodegradable products, reusable grocery bags and reusable water bottles.

On the exterior of their homes, they are scooping the poop, replacing turf grass with mulched beds and native plants, reducing pesticides and fertilizers and installing rain barrels and rain gardens.

Some residents, such as Ashby and Yvette Franklin, are taking on other roles. The couple is tracking the health of Redwing Lake and ponds in the community by using the Lynnhaven River NOW water quality monitoring program.

“It is our responsibility to keep it (Red Wing Lake) and the surrounding precious waters as pristine as we can,” Ashby Franklin said. “We also agree that this work must be done now to preserve these habitats for future generations.”

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