|At right, Heidi Deger and her friend Meghan Blaul, both 6, enjoy an early spring day outside at Hallcrest Heights in McLean.|
|Photo Credit: Photos Ann Cameron Siegal For The Washington Post|
In the mid-1990s, Hallcrest Heights in McLean appeared to be heading downhill.
Annual meetings at the 158-unit townhouse community were sparsely attended, leaning more toward gripe sessions than productive events. The houses and grounds were looking dreary. Semi-annual walk-throughs by the architectural board were christened "the parade of the picky people." The newcomers' welcome kit was an impersonal list of community rules.
And relationships between the board of directors and residents weren't so hot. "The old board spent $11,000 on lawyer's fees," said Clark Tyler, association president. "As soon as members had a problem, they'd call a lawyer."
Today, Hallcrest Heights has blossomed into a lively, attractive community where annual meetings draw more than 100 enthusiastic residents, architectural board walk-throughs are known for the kudos received, and newcomers receive a personal welcome along with a well-designed, informative packet of information.
The homeowners association could serve as a model, and residents credit Tyler, who assumed office in 1999, with much of the turnaround. His secret: Focus on the big picture and let the petty things go.