The idea that the Heideloff mansion on Edgewater Drive could be demolished initially prompted a group of residents along the lakefront to form a neighborhood association.
But that was just the beginning.
Starting with just six members late last year, the Overlook Park Neighborhood Association now has 167 members out of about 260 residents in the neighborhood it encompasses.
The association includes the streets stretching from Nicholson to Belle avenues and is bordered by Lake Avenue and Lake Erie to the north.
Gaynel Mellino, a resident of Edgewater Drive and president of the organization, said the idea of the neighborhood association came about because of the possibility that the Heideloff estate could be demolished.
But the scope of the association quickly evolved.
“There were a lot of people in the neighborhood that were upset about losing another mansion,” Mellino said. “I started thinking we could do something else with the property, like maybe creating a club or a bed and breakfast.
“Then I stumbled across an article in the Huffington Post about forming neighborhood associations,” she added. “It got me thinking — it just seemed like the next right thing to do.”
The organization’s website will also offer a quarterly newsletter, directory, block watch and social functions.
Neighbors’ participation in the association is voluntary, and open to all of the residents in the neighborhood. The dues are $50 per year.
“We want to make it a more cohesive neighborhood,” Mellino said. “It’s been a process.”
“This is totally Lakewood.”
The website posts several key points in the organization’s mission statement. They include:
- To promote the general welfare of the Neighborhood;
- To encourage social functions among members of the Neighborhood;
- To establish and maintain an open line of communication and liaison among the Neighborhood, government agencies and other neighborhoods;
- To promote safety in the Neighborhood;
- To give special attention to public improvements and all that is related to the betterment of the Neighborhood and the convenience and comfort of the residents;
- To promote beautification of the Neighborhood.
“The purpose behind our neighborhood association is to come together as one Identity and increase Communication, Social Interaction and Long Term Planning within our borders,” according to the organization’s website.
“Together, we share a bond that is essential any day and age — community.”
Bryce Sylvester, city planner for Lakewood, said that some in the organization have approached city officials about posting customized street signs, which would likely be paid for by the organization.
“The idea is no different than the identities of Birdtown, Downtown Lakewood or Clifton Park,” he said.
Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, said supports the residents in their effort.
“I think anytime neighbors are trying together to help each other out, to keep others informed about what’s going on in the neighborhood, and work to build community, then that’s a good thing,” he said.