It would have been easy for Libby and Peter Price just to enjoy living in their new home in the Hillside Avenue Historic District, but in April they took on the challenge of reviving the district association. At a reorganization meeting on Jan. 17, the new group was able to share a litany of accomplishments, ranging from restoring its fiscal health to getting city approval for 4-way stops that improve traffic safety.
Each of the city's six residential historic districts - Hillside, Van Wyck Brooks, Broadway, Netherwood Heights, Putnam-Watchung and Crescent Area - are meant to have associations to uphold the goals of the city's Historic Preservation Ordinance, in conjunction with the Historic Preservation Commission. Associations also help publicize the city's rich architectural heritage with house tours and other events that draw visitors from all over, another reason to keep them strong.
But as people come and go, associations may weaken or disband. Another goal in reviving the Hillside group was to use social media both to foster camaraderie and to keep up communication. There is now a Facebook page, a Hillside Avenue District website and a district email account. The group also initiated dialogue with city officials, which is ongoing and helped with projects such as new street and stop signs and the first-ever 4-way stops. High public interest led to city establishment of other 4-way stops at dangerous intersections.
As association president, Peter Price reported all the innovations at the Jan. 17 meeting, including improved street lighting and deer crossing signs.
Price was re-elected to serve as president for 2016, along with Dawn Jenkin as vice president, Nathan Vaughn as treasurer and Mike Seganish as secretary.
City Council President Cory Storch, who represents the Second Ward, commended the group for its work and gave updates on city redevelopment, code enforcement and road repair plans. HPC Chairman Bill Michelson and Vice Chairman Larry Quirk conveyed the commission's delight at having the district active again and said the HPC is is working with homeowners in historic districts to provide help and guidance on rails, stairs and fences.(See the HPC's complete Design Guidelines here.)
Two district homes will be featured venues for special events later in 2016.