By: Sharon Aron Baron
The results of our competition for the Best Neighborhood are in, and out of 22 communities in Coral Springs only one soars past the competition as our winner.
With 25 percent of the vote, Oakwood came out way ahead of both Hidden Hammocks Estates with 10 percent and Whispering Woods with 9 percent. But what makes Oakwood so special? And why were the neighbors so intent on voting for their community? During nominations, as well as during the poll, many Oakwood residents made it clear that they were passionate about their community.
What Makes Oakwood Special?
Bear Webb, who moved to Oakwood six years ago with her fiancé Elyse Stelzer Clarke said, “How many neighbors do you know that go on vacation together, celebrate holidays and birthdays together, build a haunted house together, have movie night on the front lawn together, have an annual Christmas Eve driveway P.J. party together, celebrate milestones together such as five years cancer-free, and practice for months to perform a flash mob wedding proposal? I’m going to guess – not many.”
Webb considers her neighbors in Oakwood BFN’s or her “Best Friend Neighbors.” We received a few emails from residents of Oakwood referring to their neighbors as BFN’s as well.
“What an amazing feeling to open your front door and know 14 people who live on the same street are your best friends,” said Webb.
Oakwood is a 485 home community built in 1979 by Heritage Quality Construction Co, Inc. and is located west of University Drive and south of Atlantic Boulevard. The residents in our story mainly live in the 89 home section of Oakwood which is on Atlantic Boulevard. The other sections are on the north and south side of Riverside Drive. According to Realtor Sophia Cagan of Coldwell Banker, the homes are typically three to five bedrooms ranging from $380,000 to $450,000.
Cagan not only sells homes in Oakwood, she has been living there since 2006 along with her husband Ken, who is also a Realtor. Originally from Tamarac, she moved to Oakwood because of the great schools for her two children.
“We love this community. We talk about downsizing since the kids are grown, but we like it here. We fell into a community. It’s a community, it’s homey. It’s not just houses. I tell my clients – I tell them they’re buying a community.”
Cagan said homes sell quickly in Oakwood and that is because of the great schools within walking distance to their home, and the friendliness of the residents and how they help one another.
She said that as the children have gotten older, some families are moving away and downsizing.
“Four people just moved out on my block and the people that are moving in are young families from all types of professions.”
Cagan said that another benefit to living in Oakwood is that there is no homeowner’s association. “It’s very well-kept. The majority of residents keep their lawns looking good. That’s a good point – that’s a selling point. A lot of people don’t want HOA’s.”
Caryn Osborne, who moved to Oakwood over five years ago, believes she is lucky and blessed to have found a wonderful group of loving and supportive neighbors. “We are more than neighbors, we are truly real friends that are there for each other in crisis and in celebration. We’ve done it all: flash mobs, holidays, movie nights, celebrations, impromptu driveway parties, concert outings, Halloween haunted houses, cruises, barbecues. There’s no better crowd to have in our lives.”
“After Hurricane Wilma, all the neighbors shined,” said Meg Thompson who has lived in Oakwood for 14 years. “One cut down a tree in front of someones house. Our BFN, Julie just celebrated her five year cancer free anniversary. It was a celebration for all of us because we were with her through it all. We celebrate every holiday like a family, and take care of each other’s kids and pets.”
Linda Star Siegel, and her husband Glenn, who have been living in Oakwood for 12 years, moved to Coral Springs because they were seeking a perfect place to raise their two children who are now in college. They wanted a family-oriented community with diversity, parks, activities and cultural opportunities which she said they found in Coral Springs. She also wanted a neighborhood where people cared about each other, looked out for one another, and found that in Oakwood.
Webb said, “You won’t find mansions here. You won’t find a gated community here. You won’t find elaborate landscaping here. You won’t find an over the top entrance here, but you will find is a home base. Oakwood is our home base. We are safe here.”
Webb said that some of the things that she and her neighbors have done, included a surprise marriage proposal flash mob dance for her fiancée which entailed getting the friends together, as well as their kids, to deliver special clues and cards and practicing a flash mob dance for months then decorate the entire street and wearing matching shirts that said “Oakwood Mobsters,” all while keeping it a secret. Webb said that milestones are not only congratulated, but enthusiastically celebrated with his neighbors, including heading to a wedding in Georgia, and not only that, performing a surprise dance at the reception. She has even taken a cruise with 14 of her neighbors from Oakwood because she insists, that they are not her neighbors – they are her family.
“I celebrate life because of them. They are my BFN’s – best friend neighbors. I am blessed to live, laugh, and love in Oakwood.”
Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.