Not every neighborhood in Omaha can say it has its own nature reserve.
Quail Hollow, near 162nd Avenue and W Street, can boast about that. The wetlands are the pride of the 13-year-old subdivision. They're teeming with wildlife and provide a welcome green space.
Residents also say they like the area's clean look — no junk or clutter in these yards. They're fond of the many young trees. They use the network of walking paths that connect the nature reserve, its private park, popular Black Elk Park on the subdivision's southern edge and the wide sidewalks that meander throughout the housing development.
Walkers and joggers come from all over, says resident Karen Kaiser.
“It's because it's flat.”
Have a dog? Every house here seems to have one ... or two.
You'll find a range of residents in Quail Hollow: There are Josh and Charissa Beckner, for example, a couple in their 30s with a 2-year-old daughter. And 60-ish Ted Simpson and his wife, Mary Sue Eldon, who have lived in the subdivision for 11 years.
Everyone raves about having great neighbors.
“They bring cookies to you when you move in and let you know if there's something to watch out for,” Charissa Beckner says.
We spent a couple evenings walking the streets, observing neighborhood activities, talking to folks and taking notes and photos.
» It's clean. You won't see trash and there's nothing piled up in yards. Even the garbage cans placed out for pickup usually tucked out of sight looked neat.
» Lawns are bright green. Men and women were out mowing their lawns; so were hired yard crews.
» There are few fences and no garden sheds because covenants restrict them. Backyards have the usual swing sets and grills.
» It has quite a few trees for a fairly young housing development, but they're not very big. You'll see few mature trees. If you're looking for shade, you won't find it in most yards.
» Yards also aren't flush with flowers, but that could be because of the cold, wet spring.
» Schools are in the Millard district. St. Stephen the Martyr School and Skutt High School also are nearby.
Who lives here?
Quail Hollow SID: Nearly 13 years old with 229 lots (about 30 are still open)
From a census tract (which covers a larger area than just Quail Hollow, 156th to 168th Streets, Q to Harrison Streets)
» Median age: 32.2
» Racial makeup: 90 percent white, 6 percent Asian
» 55 percent of households are families with children
» Majority of homes are owner-occupied
Sales data (since Jan. 1, 2012)
» Median house price: $243,000
» Average house price: $240,171
Black Elk Park
It's the place to gather when the weather is nice, and the park gets used a lot. It's where four neighborhoods come together, so Quail Hollow residents have to share.
On a recent evening, it was full of moms pushing strollers, dads playing catch, dog owners with their pets, couples fitness walking, teens skateboarding and little kids swinging, climbing on playground equipment or playing in the sand.
Mostly two-story homes with some ranches, often with walkout basements. Many have three-car garages, which helps with storage when you're forbidden from having a backyard shed.
Color schemes: Exteriors have earth-tone walls although an occasional blue or gray sneaks in among the cream beiges, rosy tans, pale olives, forest greens and rich ochres. The homes also have clay-fired brick or stonework accents.
Construction of new homes continues.
They're everywhere big, tiny, you name it. On a nice evening, you see droves of dog walkers.
Don't speed! There's a speed bump every other block on almost every street.
Convenience, great neighbors, the neighborhood's clean look.
Recreation with a YMCA nearby; Zorinsky Lake is practically on its doorstep and Chalco Hills Recreation Area isn't far away.
Any resident who works downtown has a fairly long commute at least 20 minutes, especially during rush hours. But people who have moved here from other cities say they've had worse and don't see the drive as too onerous.
Most hated covenant
The covenant residents dislike most is the ban on above-ground swimming pools.
Pride and joy
Quail Hollow is proud of its own private park and its nature reserve. The protected wetlands draw all kinds of birds eagles, owls, hawks, ducks, geese and cardinals are favorites as well as raccoons, squirrels and other animals.
Residents are mostly young families with a mix of retirees or empty-nesters thrown in.
People we interviewed said their neighbors are the kind of people who bake cookies for newcomers, warn others if there's a particular neighborhood problem, watch the house next door if the family is out of town, dog-sit or run errands for each other.
The Quail Hollow Homeowners Association is active. Bryan Bush is president.
It sponsors an annual picnic, a Fourth of July parade, an Easter egg hunt and a holiday lights contest.
It also organizes cleanups, including a monthly pickup day where residents take a 30-minute walk and pick up any trash.
The subdivision is covered by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. Residents say they feel safe and well-served.
On several drives through the neighborhood, all we heard were lawn mowers and shrieking kids at play. No loud music or revving engines.
"Everyone has each other's backs," said Karen Kaiser on why she likes the neighborhood. "We manage to work things through."
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