Neighborhood groups serve to strengthen small communities. The Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association, or LHAIA, takes that concept a step further, acting as an umbrella group for all neighborhood and homeowner associations and crime watch groups. Overseeing the LHAIA takes an intimate knowledge of the area and a willingness to throw heart and soul into enhancing its residents’ quality of life. As new association president, neighbor Jack White thinks he’s up to the task.  

How well do you know Lake Highlands?
My wife and I both graduated from LHHS in ’83. I work as a Realtor in the area, and am active in my [Highland Meadows] neighborhood association. My daughter Lucy is in the fourth grade at Wallace Elementary, and son, Evan, is in the seventh grade at Lake Highlands Junior High. I am president of the Dads Club Tomorrow Fund … work closely with neighborhood schools … have been secretary of the LHAIA … I think I have a pretty good grasp of Lake Highlands, old and new.

How has the LHAIA had an impact on our neighborhood as of late?
Over the last couple years, membership has increased. We now have 34 neighborhood and crime watch groups. With that kind of unity, we can more effectively make our voices heard at city hall. We were vocal for example, about our desire to see the ARMORY returned to the parks department, and we are seeing results. There are three main areas of focus — crime watch, code enforcement and economic development. We try to devise a unified plan and implement it.

What about when neighbors disagree about what they want?
All-in-all, I think, we are trying to work toward the same thing. But sometimes we have different ideas about how to get there. Rather than taking sides in zoning and development issues, we try to be a conduit of information … educating people so they can make informed choices about what they want for the area.

Tell me about some LHAIA projects.
In the past, the LHAIA worked tirelessly to get a community prosecutor and code enforcement officers, and worked with police to focus on property crimes problem. We’ve worked with the last several District 10 council representatives to increase economic development … to keep people informed, dispel rumors and set the groundwork for development once the economy strengthens. A good example is LH businesses such as T. Hee Greetings and Highlands Café rallying neighbors to speak out about what we want for run down shopping centers. On a smaller scale, for example, we are working to boost the Northlake postal office. A lot of folks don’t know it’s even there because they have no advertising, no signage … we want to hopefully increase awareness, get students out there for tours and so forth and make them stronger.   

This sounds like a lot of work.
Yes, but there are a lot of people doing the work together. And when it’s something that you are enthusiastic about, it isn’t a burden — it’s worth the work. —Christina Hughes Babb