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Neighborhood works to foster sense of pride

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By Matt Gunn

A trip through the Columbine West neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon finds families playing at the Dutch Creek Elementary playground, couples walking their dogs and neighbors enjoying a quiet day.

Nestled north of West Coal Mine Avenue and east of South Wadsworth Boulevard, Columbine West is a mature neighborhood where many residents have stayed after raising their families. And the sense of community is genuine, as those involved with the neighborhood’s civic association work to keep a close-knit feeling.

“There certainly is (a sense of community),” said Natasha McCombs, a 30-year resident. “We’re looking at trying to improve the community by a number of strategies.”

In recent years, there have been efforts to maintain the sense of community pride, something that can be fleeting as residents come and go.

“It was an eye-opener to our three boys as they got out into the world and found out that that’s not how all neighborhoods are,” McCombs said. “And that’s been a blessing to all of us — not just the neighbors, but to the kids too.”

At the center of Columbine West is Dutch Creek Elementary, which is adjacent to the Columbine West Park and Pool, a Foothills Park and Recreation District amenity. Greenbelts and trails nearby form a network that starts there and continues throughout the community.

“They’ve been a real integral part with some of the walking trails here,” said Patrice Thomas, who raised her family in the neighborhood. “I walk with some of my friends, not just in this neighborhood, but I walk a 5-mile trek on some of the trails that connect neighborhoods.”

And a network of support has evolved among homeowners. An architectural control committee watches covenants, while the Columbine West Garden Club has recently worked to beautify the neighborhood’s entrances.

The various projects amount to a positive change.

“One of the things, too — it’s kind of a resurgence lately,” Thomas said. “There’s been a real resurgence in pride in the neighborhood, and there’s been some great leadership in the civic association.”

One group in Columbine West, the neighborhood improvement committee, is looking at ways to help neighbors keep things looking ship-shape.

“We have a number of homes that have older owners now, and it becomes difficult for them sometimes to get their driveways shoveled, or some weeds pulled or even their lawn mowed in the summer,” McCombs said. “So we’re working on some kind of service to help with those things.”

She did acknowledge that all aging neighborhoods deal with challenges.

“The houses are older, the yards, the fences, upkeep is needed, and most people do take care of their homes,” McCombs said. “But there are those who tend to let them go.”

It would seem more Columbine West residents have taken stock in their community lately than not. That’s one of the things that Thomas said drew her to the area in 1989, and has kept her there since.

“Generally it was well-kept and clean, and space between the houses,” Thomas said. “Maybe it wasn’t the newest or fanciest houses available, but there was space between the yards.”

Conact Matt Gunn at matt@evergreenco.com. For breaking news and updates, visit www.columbinecourier.com