Two pre-teen boys, one of them on the neighborhood swim team since he was 4 years old, have been banned from the pool, playground and common areas in Bristow’s Kingsbrooke neighborhood for years after their part in vandalizing a little free library.
The vandalism occurred last fall and involved the two boys, then 11 and 13 years old, and a friend around the same age from another neighborhood. The boys say their friend punched out the plexiglass cover on the Kingsbrooke association's free library kiosk, then threw books into the woods, according to their parents.
Police were called after the vandalism, but did not place charges, opting instead to let the boys' parents handle the situation.
The Kingsbrooke HOA, however, held a disciplinary hearing -- and the punishment was harsh, according to the parents.
One of the boys, who admitted to throwing a book, has been banned from Kingsbrooke’s common grounds, playgrounds, pool, parking lots and tennis courts until he is 18 years old. He’s now 12.
The other boy was banned from the same areas until at least May 2022, when the board will review the situation. He had been a member of the Kingsbrooke swim team since before kindergarten.
Neither had any prior issues with the HOA.
The children were also ordered to write “a meaningful essay on the value of the Little Free Library,” and their parents were ordered to pay $125 each for damages and books, according to the ruling.
Their parents say they find the decision to prohibit the kids from all community amenities for years extreme -- and possibly against the HOA’s own covenants.
“It’s seven years. It’s over the top,” said Joni Blue, the younger boy’s mother. “Even the police didn’t move forward with pressing charges.”
The older boy’s father, Jon Gadbois, said it appears HOA officials have violated their own bylaws with the extended bans.
“The KHOA Board of Directors does not have the power to ban any resident for more than 60 days as stated in the [Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions],” he wrote to the association. “I understand that the Board of Directors is voluntary and I appreciate everything they do to keep our community running but should understand the CCR’s and the hierarchy of precedents and how they will be viewed in a court of law.”
The families have hired an attorney to pursue legal action.
The Kingsbrooke Homeowners Association did not return requests for comment from InsideNoVa, but did send a letter to residents after NBCWashington aired a story this week about the incident.
“The Board does not believe it appropriate to discuss circumstances involving the conduct of individual owners and residents of our community,” the letter reads. “The Board is aware that there have been postings and dialogue on social media. The Board declines to participate in those exchanges as our policy requires.”
The letter included the association’s statement to NBCWashington, which reads:
"Kingsbrooke Homeowners Association, Inc. is a private community of more than 900 homes in Prince William County, Virginia. The Association Board of Directors is responsible for maintaining and preserving association property for the benefit of all members and residents. The Board approaches this responsibility with care and attention, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of each community member with the goal of treating all community members with fairness and respect. The Board is charged with the responsibility to take all necessary and appropriate action according to established authority to preserve Association interests, mindful of all Association members’ rights and responsibilities."