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Residents Help East Ridge Grow Through ‘Governance’ Systems

Aug 17, 2015 | News

For more than a half-century, residents have played key roles in both the development and expansion of East Ridge at Cutler Bay.

Community betterment through their participation often begins with monthly “Town Hall” meetings where residents address concerns and participate in discussions about community operations. These sessions with management are held at 2 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month in the Lifestyle Center’s Auditorium.

Sixteen residents form a separate Town Council that holds its monthly meetings to discuss and make recommendations for potential Town Hall action, including everything from changes in menus to sidewalk repairs.

Its agenda is aided by specialized committees composed of resident volunteers are active in such areas as Health, Beautification, Plant Maintenance, Religious Life, Food, Lifestyles and Marketing. All who live here are encouraged to sign up for participation in committee work after attending a Town Hall meeting.

“Overall, we call it our ‘governance system,” explains 10-year-resident Marty McLaren who has chaired both the Town Hall and Town Council organizations for the past four years. “Becoming active in community affairs is always open to every resident at all times. We encourage participation by everyone.”

“I moved to East Ridge as a widow to be near my grandchildren,” she added, noting that her position includes attending the specialized monthly committee meetings as an “ex officio” member of each.

A California native and former Connecticut resident, McLaren obtained her degree from Columbia University where she later taught graduate social studies. She formerly directed two outpatient psychiatric facilities and now puts her professionalism to work, helping others live better at East Ridge.

“A good example of what our residents accomplished occurred in June when the Town Council voted to recommend to management the purchase of a $7000 vehicle to assist those who get around in wheelchairs, a big lift to many who want to enjoy even more participation in activities,” she explained.

While community activities leave little time except for church work and theater excursions, does retirement at East Ridge live up to her expectations?

“Oh, my yes!” she exclaims. “This is a stimulating place to be, no matter what someone’s interests might be with so many activities for people to enjoy.

“The community’s facilities are excellent, the food is really great and so are the people you meet. Moving here was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she added.