The Westport lake community in Denver used to be a weekend destination spot where folks would stick their feet in the water, throw out a fishing line or simply relax.
People there still do that, and more, but now it's a "mega-tropolis" of its own, said Andy Strand, 69, the president of the community association, who has lived in the neighborhood for almost 14 years. He moved from Long Island, N.Y. after retiring from a career in education administration.
When Strand first moved to the neighborhood, there were three houses on his block and all the residents were retired and 55 or older.
Now, there are about a dozen homes on his block, a school bus stop, annual trick-or-treaters, laughter on the streets from kids playing and the average age ranges from 20s to late-60s.
"And that's just a microcosm of one street undergoing a metamorphosis," Strand said.
Multimillion-dollar homes dot the lake shore and many of the former "weekend" homes have been torn down and rebuilt or renovated. Other parts of the neighborhood have condominiums, townhomes and patio homes (one-level living) being built.
"Those types of homes are going up because people want remain in Westport," Strand said. "It gives people what they're looking for on the east side of the lake, and it's not so crowded."
The 700-plus-home community has access to resort-worthy amenities year-round. There is a semi-private 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool and two waterslides at the newly constructed facility, The Club at Westport.
"It's like the Disney Land for families and friends of families," Strand said. "We have everything any major resort has. It's a very welcoming place to live.
"We have an active population from the youngest members of our community to the oldest members of our community, but it has begun to transition from a community of 'mature' adults to a community of younger families with children of all ages."
On the community's Web site, it promotes a "new style of living" where the neighborhoods are clean, neat and well-groomed, Strand said.
The community stays connected through The Westporter, a monthly community newsletter that publicizes local businesses, honors the passing of long-time residents and announces upcoming events.
Carole Rowell, 63, is the editor of the multipage publication that gets distributed to about 260 households through the mail or e-mail. And four times a year, all 700-plus homes in the community get the newsletter.
Rowell lived in Westport from 1980 to 1993 and moved back in 2007. Soon after she inherited responsibilities of the newsletter, she said.
"It just provides a communication tool that makes our neighborhood," Rowell said. "And almost weekly I'm sending out a blast e-mail that includes police reports, information about lost or found pets and even notices about community events being held by those in the Westport community. It's timely information that comes out between newsletters."
"It's the mortar that holds the community together, and it permits a sharing of information that wouldn't be attainable any other way," Strand added.
Organizers use the quarterly newsletter to offer a chance for people to join the community's association. But even if residents don't join, they still receives a variety of services, such as upkeep of common areas, provided by the group. For those who choose to join, it's $40 a year, and it has less structure than a homeowners' association and no real legal ties, Strand said.
"We use gentle persuasion and good will," Strand said. "It's the definition of neighbor-helping-neighbor to assist the growth and development of the community."
In addition to the newsletter, the community is divided into 36 areas. Ten representatives help manage more than 30 volunteer greeters that help their assigned residents locate services and answer questions about the area.
Whether you pay or not, these free services are provided - no strings attached, Strand said.
There is a high level of community activism and volunteerism within and beyond the sprawl of the neighborhood, Strand said, and members help make the area feel cozy through simple and kind gestures.
"We have a lot of busy people that are volunteering to help a lot of people," Strand said. "You may have to look a while, but eventually you'll find someone to help."
Strand recently brought food to a neighbor who'd been in a car accident but, once inside the home, he discovered others had already been there.
"But you don't wait to be invited to help someone, you just help," Strand said. "We don't have a halo complex. We're just doing what good neighbors do."