Forest Hill will smile again
Other than the azaleas and blossoming trees in Forest Hill, the best thing here is the homeowners association, regardless of what has been said in an ongoing dialogue. The "fuss" has been the private crusade of less than six people. Neighborhoods will always have "cranks," but ours has been extremely aggressive. Since the 1950s, the association has nurtured the historic serenity of this area.
In the 1950s, post-war couples worked hard to get ahead, and bought in Forest Hill, then an exclusive neighborhood. The residents were the movers and shakers of the city.
We are now an amazingly diverse population. Some treasure the historic value of our properties; some don't and won't. No mandatory "dues" will change their outlook. What Forest Hill really needs is a stronger sense of "community"—individuals engaged in matters relevant to living here.
The problem in any organization is that there will always be individuals who don't agree with the majority. They will leave, and, in the case of Forest Hill, try to splinter and divide those who want to enjoy peace and harmony. The Forest Hill Home Owners Association (FHHO) now seeks a new direction focused on peace, harmony and the involvement of residents who are smart, relatively affluent, and willing to put things back into balance.
To do this, there are plans to advertise our community in high-profile publications (such as orchestra programs) and participate more fully in city efforts, such as FutureHeights and representation at city hall for our concerns. As a cost savings, FHHO hopes to distribute timely information via e-mail rather than USPS, but people must provide their e-mails.
There must be more dialogue between side-by-side and across-the-street neighbors. We must find common interests and better understand differences. On every walk I take and run into someone I do not know, I find out the most amazing things. I suggest a weekly (at least) walk around your block in different directions. I also find that many residents are dealing with housebound family members and/or their own restrictive health issues. These restrictions are often reflected in the less than perfect care of the property.
I can count on one hand the number of original owners still here. A number of homes have been passed on to children or other relatives who have no interest in the neighborhood or their responsibility to maintain the property. Other owners see no need to pay their mortgage or taxes. Homes go into foreclosure. The process is slow, and meanwhile the property deteriorates.
Last month (June) was designated “Neighbor Month” in Forest Hill. Events were planned for each week, and residents were encouraged to have “pop up” parties on their front lawn, inviting passer-bys to stop and chat. Some people had refreshments, some did not, but conversation was the focus.
I am convinced that more frequent interaction between neighbors and understanding each other’s circumstances can unify our beloved Forest Hill going into the future.
Jan Milic has been a Forest Hill resident for 42 years, and is a past-president of FHHO.