Make the most of your neighborhood association
"The purpose of our neighborhood association is communication between neighbors and building a community.”
A couple weeks ago, we offered tips for new residents in a homeowners association . But if you live outside of a gated neighborhood, you’re more likely to find yourself in one of Rochester’s many neighborhood associations.
There are fewer hard-and-fast rules involved with neighborhoods (no fees, and no contracts), but we still asked some of Med City’s most-involved how to make the most of their new communities.
This isn’t an HOA. While homeowners associations involve agreements and fees to maintain a cohesive aesthetic in a given area, neighborhood associations are different — they’re free, for one, and generally concern themselves with social activities and maintaining neighborhood-specific projects.
Beth Hostetter , of the Country Club Manor Neighborhood Association , said there was some confusion when her neighborhood association was first introduced. "There were concerns we were going to charge a fee (we don’t), or that we were going to set rules about their property, such as landscaping," she said. "The purpose of our neighborhood association is communication between neighbors and building a community.”
Caitlin Doran, president of the Slatterly Park Neighborhood Association, added: “It’s not just about the places where our houses are. It’s about the whole area. … We have this more holistic view of what our mission is … making the neighborhood welcoming, friendly, connected and inclusive.”
They do care about looks. “A lot of our projects are about making things pretty and attractive,” Doran said. “It lifts spirits and makes people glad to live here.” Slatterly Park’s association plants flowers on the Sixth Street bridge, for example, and routinely leads efforts to clean up the local park. Country Club Manor created pollinator gardens in nearby parks and restored a historic sign, Hostetter said.
Reach out. You may have received information about your neighborhood association when you moved in. But if not, check www.rneighbors.org/neighborhood-associations to find out more about your area.
Rene Halasy, executive director of RNeighbors, said many associations use the same ordinance booklet to welcome new residents. You can find the highlights and a guide to local resources here: www.rneighbors.org/neighborhood-resources/city-of-rochester-mn-ordinance-highlights . Keep an eye out for social media groups and pages, as well — Hostetter said her association’s Facebook page is an excellent place to connect.
Get involved! Neighborhood associations meet regularly, and anyone is welcome to attend. You can volunteer for projects, and get as involved as you like. But if you’re already feeling overwhelmed with a new move, there’s no pressure to take on more heavy lifting, Doran said.
“We just want to positively impact them in some way,” she said. “But just by living here, we consider you a member of our association.”