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A Healthy Middle Neighborhood

By Ruth Danis  – 2009 Co—Chair of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association
(taken from The Buzz – February , 2009 – Vol 8 Issue 2)

Crawford Street SycamoresThe Highland Park Neighborhood Association requires a clear and realistic description as to why residents move into the neighborhood and why they invest their time and money in maintaining their homes and contributing to the community. It is important to be able to communicate to others, as well as to have an understanding ourselves, as to why we want to live here.

Homeowners want to protect their investment and ensure the attributes of their community are valued by others. Healthy neighborhoods contribute to healthy cities. When accommodations are requested we also need to understand what attributes of the neighborhood need to be sustained to ensure a continuation of our quality of life and what kind of compromises will enhance not detract from our area.

David Boehike, is author and a proponent of a “healthy neighborhoods” philosophy. His ideas have been successfully applied in a number of urban areas. A “healthy neighborhood” according to Boehike is one in which residents “build home equity and strengthen the social fabric of the community.” He calls these neighborhood “middle neighborhoods,” because of the affordability and desirability of their older homes. He believes Americans have choices. The “unique assets and amenities of an older area, its affordability, and evidence of a civic pride which connects people, generates personal investment. These attributes help predict the “sustainability” of a neighborhood.”

The Highland Park Neighborhood is a “middle neighborhood” because it consists of a mix of working people across Crawford Sycamoresprofessions. The population cannot be type cast in respect to age, ethnicity, or race. Homes built in the mid nineteenth century for workers at the Ellwanger—Barry Nursery co—exist with the early 20th century real estate sold by owners of this famous nursery (who donated land that is now Highland Park to the city of Rochester). Our neighborhood sustains the historic connections so necessary to the sustainability of our neighborhood.

Highland Park, local gardens, and a well maintained playground contribute to the much appreciated green space which residents value. People sit on their front porches during the spring and summer and engage with neighbors walking by. The ability to walk to work and stores from one’s home has become a marketable attribute for homebuyers since the 1990’s. Institutions such as the University of Rochester and Colgate Divinity School, in addition to hospitals, a nursing home, schools and early childhood centers are within walking distance of the neighborhood. Stores , restaurants, bakeries, laundries and a movie theatre are accessible from a majority of homes without needing to drive.

The Highland Park Neighborhood Association would like residents to become informed about the characteristics that contribute to our community in order to sustain and enhance the attributes that make our area a “healthy middle neighborhood.”

Meig Street Panorama

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