Group fights for neighborhood's rights

Owning one's own home is part and parcel of the American dream.

In the United States, the country with the single greatest incidence of home ownership, approximately 65 percent of families have achieved that dream.

Ownership of a home, or, for that matter, virtually anything of considerable value creates a sense of proprietorship on the part of the owner that confers dividends beyond that of actual ownership. A teen who works for and purchases his or her first car, for example, and (perhaps) pays for the insurance, is likely to drive with greater care. A homeowner is more likely to care for the yard and take pride in the appearance of the home. In either case, benefits extend beyond the teenage car owner or homeowner. The streets are safer, and the property value of the gardener's neighbors is boosted.

The development of a neighborhood association such as the Garden District Neighborhood Alliance, or GDNA, is a direct outgrowth of the ownership mystique. Indeed, neighborhood groups like the GDNA exist, as one would expect, all over the country. The GDNA is neither first nor far from the last.
The mission of the GDNA is first and foremost to work toward the enhancement and preservation of the very qualities that motivated most owners in the neighborhood to "buy into" the district in the first place. High on that list is quality of life and protection of the home value that, for the overwhelming majority of home-owning families, represents their single largest family asset.

The GDNA naturally takes an active interest in projects that affect neighborhood places, that potentially affect traffic density, that affect amenities that influenced residents' choice of the neighborhood and that affect the desirability (read "property value") of the neighborhood.

The GDNA was naturally interested in the planned development of additional tennis courts in Forsythe Park and the proposed driving range in the Forsythe Park golf course. (The park is one of those amenities.)

Of course we did our homework. After learning more about the proposed projects, the GDNA chose to support both and (for the tennis courts) even attended the Monroe City Council meeting to show our support.

Occasionally, the GDNA takes an opposing position, as it does with the proposed Forsythe location of a fourth bridge. The GDNA is also opposed to crime and speeding in the neighborhood. We have actively lobbied for speed control and crime prevention measures throughout the neighborhood.

The GDNA encourages creation of homeowners associations in any neighborhood with an abiding interest in protecting the sanctity and value of "life at home." Owning one's home is the American Dream.

Protection, preservation and enhancement of that dream are American rights.

MICHAEL C. ECHOLS is president of the Garden District Neighborhood Association.

Originally published in The News-Star on July 26, 2006