Turnaround at County Squire Lakes deserves commendation

A neighborhood near North Vernon finally has something it has sorely needs: a fresh start.

Country Squire Lakes started in 1973 as a seasonal recreational facility and eventually turned into a year-round gated community.

Unfortunately, the 4,000-lot community association’s more recent reputation was bad. It became known more for many drug investigations, abandoned and damaged homes, plummeting property values and discord between property owners and the neighborhood association.

However, a turnaround began taking shape last year and is continuing this year.

Mary Hoevener was hired as compliance manager last year and has been enforcing written policies and covenants. Her efforts have resulted in the three largest landlords nearly catching up on overdue association fees.

On Jan. 28, the Jennings County Commissioners unanimously approved turning over to judge-appointed trustee Mike Miller about 1,100 foreclosed properties. Miller, who is acting on behalf of the community association, receives the properties May 29.

Miller stated a simple but important and needed goal: to create clean and safe living.

An ongoing police presence in Country Squire Lakes has caused some residents to move out, likely for the better of the neighborhood.

A handful of blighted lots have been cleared, and a big cleanup of lots will begin in June after Miller officially received the 1,100 properties.

Miller has said he intends to invest at least $150,000 in cleanup efforts, and Hoevener said road repairs and sewage and water improvements are priorities.

For residents who have maintained their properties all along and paid their fees, this surely is welcome news. For future residents, it has to be reassuring that serious efforts are underway to have good control of the neighborhood and ensure that it is a nice place to live.

A turnaround is within reach for the troubled subdivision. That will benefit Jennings County because it will become less of a drain on finances and resources, and residents who will be able to view it as a possible place to live rather than one to avoid.

We applaud the efforts of all those trying to revive the neighborhood, because they show a great care for a community’s health and residents’ quality of life.

At issue

Country Squire Lakes became known for drug investigations, abandoned and damaged homes.

Our point

A turnaround is happening thanks to dedicated community leaders.