Mount Washington is a neighborhood in the northwest corner of Independence. North of U.S. 24 and east of Brookside Avenue is an area with strong community ties between residents, churches, lodge, and Fairmount Community Center. The old Mount Washington Elementary School and Library building has been converted to 47 senior apartments. The roads have been recently paved and striped. The street lighting appears adequate along old Independence Avenue. These elements have contributed to a sense of community in a place where it might not be expected.

Here are some statistics of the area, per Neighborhood Scout. The median real estate price is less expensive than 97 percent of all U.S. neighborhoods. Our vacancy rate is 34 percent. The per capita income is less than 95 percent than all other U.S. neighborhoods. Our culture includes 36 percent Mexican, 10 percent Irish, and nearly 8 percent French ancestry. Fifteen percent were born in another country. Seventy percent of the population speak English primarily in the home.

We have a lot of reasons to be dysfunctional, but there is a sense of community in this part of the neighborhood. The four churches reach out to the community in various ways. Meals are plentiful and free to all. Book bags were filled with school supplies and distributed to students just heading back to school. The Masonic Lodge contributes to the effort as well. A strong Community Center in nearby Fairmount reaches out with programs and lunches geared primarily to the elderly and to those in need.

I think a good community should be able to fend for itself without increased police patrols and a hand-out from the government. We could use their guidance, though!

I would like to see more neighbors leave their outside lights on at night. Perhaps we could organize an LED light program to make it more affordable to our residents. Better lighting would provide more security in the area. Weeds, unmown grass, and trash can attract pests and pestilence. We need to be vigilant in keeping these problem under control.

I’m glad to be living here, in a challenging time. Without the spirit of community that we have today, we will likely fail in our neighborhood tomorrow.