The word community, like many words in the English language, has more than one interpretation. A community can be identified as a geographical location—a physical infrastructure of streets, parks and buildings, defined by tangible brick and mortar structures. But a sense of community is often emotional, intangible and much more difficult to define; it is what makes an address a home, not just a location.
“There are so many benefits of community building,” says Paul A. Santoriello, PCAM, president of Taylor Management Company in Whippany. “When you look at the value of where you live there is of course the mortar and bricks aspect of it, the structure and the location. But when you really look at the total happiness you derive from where you live, the sense of community is very, very important.”
“Living in a community everyone has a shared interest and a financial interest in their community at large,” says Martin H. Laderman, president of mem association management corporation in Jersey City. “So it’s in everyone’s best interest not to live in a hostile environment. A friendly environment not only makes it more enjoyable but it also makes it more easier to sell and raise a family.”
Cultivating a sense of community can present a challenge for residents, association managers and homeowners associations. In a sprawling urban/suburban environment, the fact that people live side-by-side with each other certainly doesn’t prevent them from feeling isolated and disconnected from their neighbors. High-rise residential buildings put many people and families in very close proximity to one another, but don’t automatically turn a group of people into a community—sometimes they even have the opposite effect.
Lives are busy and schedules hectic, and the last thing many people want to do when they’re at home on a weekend or after a long day at work is go socialize with their neighbors. Building a sense of community is valuable, however, it creates a network of communication and support among building residents.