Strawberry 1 HOA for HOA of the Year

CAP Management has just completed the application for our Strawberry 1 at HeatherRidge association to be the Community Association Institute – Rocky Mountain Chapter’s HOA of the Year 2013.  This award aims to recognize one homeowners association in Colorado that is in some way a shining example for all other HOAs to follow; a pioneer in some novel or substantial practice or development.  In our eyes, Strawberry certainly meets these criteria.

While other homeowners associations may have emerged from financial despair or brought together the community through some sort of event, Strawberry has set itself as an example for something very meaningful and lasting: suburban sustainability.  The gains in water conservation and locally produced food really have left the association acting as a model for all other Aurora HOAs to refer to in their own environmentally motivated aspirations.

The conservation of water through the replacement of outdated five-gallon-per-flush toilets has created massive savings in the amount of the resource used and the costs needed to pay for it.  The new ultra high-efficiency toilets consume less than 20% of what was previously being used.  Replacing non-native turf grass with more appropriate xeric landscaping, such as low-moisture perennials and hardy shrubs, has furthered these savings.  In addition, comprehensive irrigation reform will have the association using only what it needs to water the remaining turf.  This ensures that the property will consume the bare minimum needed for this use.

To complement all of the great water-saving initiatives, the association has constructed a large community garden on its property.  While this may not save much water, it does act to increase the sense of community togetherness at Strawberry and is something tangible for the entire community to enjoy as the new toilets, for example, are out of public view.  This garden isn’t just for a few homeowners with green thumbs to enjoy, but truly exists for the benefit of the entire community.  From shared dinners post-harvest to monthly events at the garden site, this little oasis has really given the community something to talk about, and even more importantly, to share.

While there is a clear emphasis on environmental sustainability with the presence of this garden, because so much food is being produced close to the kitchen and does not have to be trucked in from distant lands, the principle value for the purposes of the HOA of the Year contest is the community togetherness the garden creates – the shared celebration.  So many homeowners associations in Colorado suffer from damaging internal disputes or some other negative quality that makes the association seem broken or the residents detached from any sense of ‘community.’  While by no measure to the extent as is experienced by some other associations, Strawberry had a small share of hard feelings amongst some residents.  No more.  The community garden has really reunited the association.  For this reason, in combination with the very significant reduction in water consumption, CAP Management feels that the Strawberry 1 at HeatherRidge association should be HOA of the Year 2013.