By Joan VaseyJuly 15, 2013
Fort Huachuca, AZ. - Mountain Vista Communities, or MVC, has reintroduced a former Fort Huachuca housing program that encourages residents of on-post quarters to individualize their yards to both enhance neighborhood attractiveness and make living in on-post housing areas more like living in off-post communities.
The Yard of the Month, or YoM program, announced in the June MVC newsletter, began this month on Fort Huachuca. Winners in five housing groups currently display signs in their yards that announce the July award to passers-by.
According to Jolene Cooper, Fort Huachuca MVC marketing outreach coordinator, this is the first time MVC has implemented the YoM program on Fort Huachuca housing areas. MVC began managing on-post housing on April 1, 2009, a little more than four years ago. MVC currently has oversight of 1,159 family housing units on the installation. The YoM program was designed, in part, to give housing occupants an opportunity to take pride of ownership of their yards in a competitive, yet friendly manner and make neighborhoods more attractive overall.
This year, yards of the month will also be selected for August and September. Next year's competition will include the month of June. One winner is chosen from each of five housing groups. They include: Pershing Plaza; Miles Manor; Gatewood Housing; a combination of Signal, Coronado and DeAnza Villages; and a combination of the Cavalry Park and Bonnie Blink housing areas.
The current YoM program is slightly different than the previous annual program in place before MVC assumed management of Fort Huachuca housing. Under the previous program, judges mainly determined YoM winners based on the appearance of landscaping only visible from the front of the home.
"We don't just look at the front yards," Cooper said of the MVC program. "We look at the whole yard to ensure the entire yard and what can be seen from the exterior of the home is in compliance with Mountain Vista Communities policy," she added.
Nomination and judging run like this.
MVC employees, who regularly inspect housing exteriors for compliance or who maintain the landscaping, make recommendations for potentially winning quarters. Cooper and others involved in the judging process determine the final selection.
"We look for yards that are attractively decorated without being overdone, or yards where it is apparent that the occupant has done a lot of work," she explained. "A yard also can't win more than once a year."
Cooper explained that even though the front yard may be very attractive, violation of MVC policies anywhere in the yard will eliminate the home from staying in the running.
Broken blinds, or tin foil or plastic covering the windows will prevent a unit from winning. Judges look for boats, RVs, trailers and other inappropriate vehicles stored in driveways or yards. Bulky items such as tires leaning against the side of a house, or litter in the driveways or yards will also lead to disqualification. Unmaintained side and back yards with overgrown grass and weeds, dog feces, or homes with more than two pets or unsheltered outdoor pets will also cost a win.
"We started the Yard of the Month program here because it's been successful in other areas we manage," Cooper said. "We want to acknowledge residents who are doing a great job in decorating their houses and improving neighborhood appearances, and to increase neighborhood pride.
"The overall goal is to keep the communities looking clean and livable," Cooper stated. "We are hoping the [Yard of the Month] program will encourage people to keep their yard well maintained and in compliance with MVC policies," she added.
Monthly winners receive a $25 rent credit and a $25 gift card from one of two local home improvement stores. MVC also posts the "Yard of the Month" sign in their yard during the month for which they won.
While there is no overall Yard of the Year winner, MVC officials may consider that option for next year. If so, one home in each area will be chosen from among the monthly winners.