Residents celebrate conservation victory at Gilbert’s Corner

Concerned residents raised $5 million to preserve this 141-acre farm in Aldie, Va., from development. They gave the land to the Piedmont Environmental Council. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

ALDIE, Va. – Residents in this rural Loudoun County community celebrated their efforts to save 141 acres of quintessential Piedmont farmland from development Friday.

The battle to preserve the property at Gilbert’s Corner has taken nearly 20 years and more than $5 million.

“This view welcomes many of us home and is kind of an iconic part of the Virginia landscape,” says Scott Kasprowicz. He and 28 other concerned residents raised the money to buy the property, which lies at the intersection of Routes 50 and 15 in Aldie.

The area is named for a man who owned a gas station, which opened in 1927, and a restaurant at the intersection. The gas station shutdown in the 1980s but is still standing.

Eventually the land was headed for commercial development, slated to be turned into a residential subdivision along with a strip mall.

“We had to do what we did in a very short period of time,” Kasprowicz says.

Last year, the group of residents bought the land and donated it to the Piedmont Environmental Council, which will preserve the land forever.

Chris Miller, president of of the council, says the organization picked the first sunny day in May to celebrate the community’s conservation of a sizable piece of land.

The permanent protection doesn’t just preserve green space, but also protects the experience of entering the countryside and watching the landscape shift from suburban Loudoun County to the Piedmont and the mountains beyond, Miller says.

The farm, which is southeast of the intersection, is across the street from previously protected land that is slated to become a park.

In 2009, the state completed construction of several roundabouts to improve traffic flow in the area without adding lanes, part of efforts to protect the area from development that date back to the mid 1990s, according to the council.

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