It's a crisp fall afternoon, and you're driving down the winding streets of Davidson's River Run neighborhood.
Looking out your window, you spy a young child catching bass in Maplecroft Lake, a quiet couple strolling down the newly finished greenway, golfers taking advantage of the autumn sunshine and teeing off.
The residents here know it's a special place to live. That's why they are especially excited that everyone else now knows it as well: River Run has been recognized by the North Carolina chapter of the Community Association Institute as the 2011 Community of the Year.
The CAI's core purpose is "to foster vibrant, responsive and competent associations that promote community harmony and responsible leadership."
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The award was in the category of large single-family homes. River Run has around 1,500 residents and about 730 houses. Board members accepted the award at a recent luncheon in Raleigh.
Mickey Pettus, president of the River Run Property Owners Association, said, "We are very pleased to receive this award on behalf of our community as an acknowledgement of the work of our residents. However, we share in the foundational work and efforts of our past leadership, the River Run Golf and Country Club and the River Run Limited Partnership, who all have made this achievement possible."
According to Pettus, three community parks were planned, outfitted and opened for residential use; traffic calming devices were installed to abate speed issues in the community; and improvements were added for safety to a neighborhood lake's dam. River Run also refurbished two pools and maintains communication with residents through River Talk magazine.
"River Run is a special place to live for a combination of the right elements for living," Pettus said.
"The location is prime, and being a country-club style of living in the heart of a historic community like Davidson offers an alternative in complement to small Southern town charm.
"In addition, River Run, since the initial planned phase, has retained the vision and resources of progressive developer E.G. Reinsch Corp. and the River Run Limited Partnership. But most important are the gracious and socially conscious residents that call Davidson and River Run their home."
Pettus said he recognizes that these residents are what is truly unique about the community.
"(They are) what is exceptional about River Run," Pettus said. "Our residents are volunteers throughout the community, in service to greater Davidson.
"We support with our time and financial resources ... socially conscious initiatives, as well as the arts, sports, and education that make our community a great place to live."
Pettus noted that the neighborhood is not finished. A fifth phase of development is in the plans for new residents.
"Our plans will also include expansion improvements and acquisition of additional common elements," he said. "Further, we are continuously improving communication with residents on issues of importance through distributed print, email and website."