Marcy-Holmes dubbed eco-friendly neighborhood

A magazine counts the local neighborhood No. 8 among eco-neighborhoods in the U.S.

by Charley Bruce

The Marcy-Holmes neighborhood recently was nominated one of the top 10 eco-neighborhoods in America.

In the January/February issue of Natural Home, Marcy-Holmes was named the No. 8 eco-neighborhood in the country.

Marcy-Holmes was picked for the neighborhood’s bus lines, bike lanes, and The Stone Arch walking bridge that connects the area with downtown and pedestrian routes to the University.

There are also grants available for home repair and a rainwater recycling program in the area.

Laurel Kallenbach, Natural Home’s senior editor, who did research for the article, said the rating was the result of conversations with the neighborhood association and the University.

The West Asheville neighborhood in Asheville, S.C., was the most eco-friendly. Some

other nominated neighborhoods were the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.; the Andersonville neighborhood in Chicago; and the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle.

Kallenbach said eco-friendly neighborhoods were older, well-established places where entertainment, grocery stores and restaurants are within walking distance. These areas also have parks or green spaces.

Kallenbach said people who live in these areas care about where they live and are often more concerned with the global environment.

“If you take good care of your own neighborhood, you’re more likely to take care of the earth,” Kallenbach said.

She said the University played a positive role in the decision to nominate the area.

“Since it’s within walking distance of the campus, that’s always a bonus,” Kallenbach said.

Melissa Bean, executive director of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, was “just tickled to get this recognition.”

She said she received an e-mail from the Natural Home’s editors asking her if she believed the neighborhood fit the magazine’s standards.

Bean referred them to Ann Forsyth, the director of the University’s Metropolitan Design Center and a Marcy-Holmes resident.

Forsyth’s design center has done work in the community, she said.

She said she moved into the neighborhood because she likes to walk to work, and Marcy-Holmes opens up more routes.

Forsyth said she enjoys passing a library or book store and a local food market on her way to work.

The age range among students, working families and retirees in the area creates a lot of diversity, something the magazine considered a strength of the neighborhood.

Bean said that while the association is active in the neighborhood, there’s work to be done. There has been a large turnover from single-family housing to renter-based housing, she said.

Bean said the neighborhood needs to increase the diversity of its housing because it is heavy on student housing.

“We have practically zero opportunities for first-time home buyers,” Bean said.

Bean said when she first moved to Marcy-Holmes 17 years ago it was kind of a secret neighborhood; no one knew where she lived when she told them.

“But now I think the secret’s out,” she said.

Third Ward Councilwoman Diane Hofstede said she thinks it’s great for Marcy-Holmes to be in the top 10.

She said it’s a versatile neighborhood and lauded its relationship with the University. Its influence, she said, was spreading to other parts of her ward.

Lauren Buell, a child psychology senior and Marcy-Holmes resident, said she moved to the neighborhood for a house big enough to fit six people, but that she enjoys the neighborhood now for its convenience.

Bike lanes are a nice asset to the neighborhood, she said, and she gets some of her groceries from smaller markets in the area, like the Fourth Street Market.