Sunday, April 3, 2011

A little TLC and North Broad could be like NORTH North Broad

Well, today was the second Sunday in a row I didn't go to the gym. ...But that doesn't mean I wasn't exercising!!! I couldn't imagine the thought of doing my two hours of weekend exercise inside. The weather was just way, way too gorgeous. So I bet, given the hours upon hours of yard work and dog walking, I put in a good six hours of exercise time yesterday and today. Didn't even feel like work, it was so gorgeous.

My favorite hour was this afternoon (Sunday), when I took the Squish for a walk down to Tourtellotte. I live on North Broad ... let me stop you there. This is the part where, if we were speaking face to face and I had just told you I live on North Broad, your face would light up and you would say, "Ohhh, North Broad is a beaut-" and I would immediately cut you off. "No, no," I would say. "I live on North Broad, not NORTH North Broad. I'm on the dodgy end. The ghetto. You know, the stretch between Mulberry and Madison." And you would say, "Oh, right. Yeah, well, um, there are some nice places there, too. It's really hit or miss, isn't it? But, yeah ..." And you would trail off, trying not to insult me with apologies for making assumptions that I was on the beautiful, wonderful, neighborhood-y end of North Broad.

I take the Squish up that way often in the spring and summer, and I always longingly think the same things: The lots are about the same size as they are on my end of North Broad. The houses are about the same age. The architecture of the houses is just as diverse. And, yet, NORTH North Broad is where you want to live. North Broad, by me, is where you HAVE to live when mucho moola isn't part of your day-to-day.

It's such a shame. The only difference between NORTH North and North are owners that have loved and cared for the properties. They've resodded when needed. They've painted and sided. They've replaced windows and doors. Every house the Squish and I pass is another one that is actually fun to look at and think, "Oh wow, look at that stone walkway. Gorgeous," or, "The shutters were such a good idea. They really frame those windows."

This weekend I wondered why I was one of the only people out in my yard on my block preparing for spring. It's not that the neighbors didn't have work to do. They ALL do. And yet, all was quiet. During my walk to Tourtellotte, I passed six rakers, all of whom said hello or "Nice weather, right?" Another couple were mulching and said, "Couldn't ask for a better day than this, could we?" I agreed and wished I lived next door so we could trade such pleasantries again.

Sometimes I wonder what it would take for North Broad to turn into that kind of neighborhood. Zero-interest city loans to update facades? A natural disaster to wipe out everything and have insurance foot the bill for an extreme neighborhood makeover? An investor to buy up all the dumpy rentals and flip them, thereby improving the neighborhood, upping values and maximizing his or her investment? Maybe my only hope is that, one house at a time, the few of us who care will inspire another to care. Maybe my neighbors will see it doesn't take that much money, just time and sweat, to improve curb appeal. And who wouldn't want to put that in on a day like this?

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