LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Whether you're a resident, visitor or passerby, you can't deny that Greenbrook village in Lakewood Ranch is a slice of Americana at its best.
As you meander down Greenbrook Boulevard, past the beautifully manicured and quiet neighborhoods flanked by small lakes, walking trails and natural Florida habitat, the memorable quote, "There's no place like home" from The Wizard of Oz truly does come to mind.
What makes Greenbook so attractive and appealing is how outdoor-oriented the community is. There's no excuse for not being active unless you truly don't want to be. Every neighborhood is surrounded by green space and trails that are well used for walking and bicycling, Even the sidewalks are twice the normal size so families can walk side by side and stroll with their baby carriages.
Those who represent the
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community and serve on the Greenrook Village Homeowners Association and its Community Development District 4, like Joe Sidiski, are hard at work keeping Greenbrook the way it looked when it first opened in 2001. Sidiski and his wife, who moved to Lakewood Ranch from New York, were the second family to purchase a home in the Vistas, and he says the quality of life hasn't changed one bit.
"We recently hired a landscape architect to bring the neighborhoods to their original standards, and we just completed a large-scale trail repair along the bank of the Braden River Preserve and along the Lorraine Road nature trail. We are very protective of our trails," said Sidiski, who enjoys the diverse blend of ages, origins and cultures that comprise the homeowners of Greenbrook, now numbering in the 2,000 range.
Adventure Park is the focal point, and rightly so. It's the hub of all activity, a meeting place for children to play together in the well-equipped playground, an inline skating hockey rink, ballparks, walking trails and a Paw Park to walk the family dog. The park is a favorite location for the annual Lakewood Ranch EGGstravaganza held every spring around Easter and the Moonlight Movie night in the park before the summer heat arrives.
Outside Greenbrook, which is ungated but monitored by a private security company, no one is ever far from activity as well, with the Premier Sports Campus just a stone's throw away, The Ranch Grill, the local sports bar and eatery, nearby on Lorraine Road, and the shopping, cultural events and concerts on Lakewood Ranch Main Street to the south.
Gene Sherry, who lives in the Haven in Greenbrook and has been a Realtor for Keller Williams for the past 12 years, enjoys the quality of life with his wife and three children.
"I feel very safe here and very fortunate to live here. It's quiet and clean, and the association does an amazing job of maintaining everything," said Sherry, who is also the developer and maintainer of the Greenbrook Village Facebook page.
What also attracts so many people to Greenbrook is the variety of homes that are available to suit everyone's needs, from growing families with small children who choose the Preserve, where homes can run as large as 4,000 square feet and up to $700,000, to the more modest Banks, where single-family homes are in the $100,000 range, perfect for a couple starting out or retirees.
Then, there's the Walk, featuring townhome-style condominiums, an attractive option for working professionals who don't have the time to maintain their property and would rather socialize at the community pool.
Added to this, the companies that built homes in Greenbrook Village, from Wetherington Homes, to DR Horton and Bruce Williams Homes, have taken the time to build efficiently with conservation in mind. Sherry, whose real estate territory includes his own neighborhood, can attest to this.
"They've added extra insulation to reduce energy consumption and utility usage and tankless water heaters that provide instantaneous hot water," he said.
Children from Greenbrook attend the two highly-ranked public schools, McNeal Elementary, which boasts an active pre-kindergarten program, and Nolan Middle School.
There's also the nearby Sprouts Child Development Center, a faith-based learning center for children ages 2 and older. Mothers also spend their mornings taking their young children to Adventure Park and the smaller Greenbrook Park next door to McNeal.
Jen Russell, formerly of Columbus, Ohio, who lives in the Vistas with her two young children and husband, who commutes daily to Tampa, says she doesn't want to leave -- ever.
"It's been so easy to make friends once the kids come to the park and I socialize with their parents. We chose Greenbrook because of the park and the proximity to the schools," Russell said.
Diana Herrig is a nanny from Bradenton who adores taking care of 2-year-old Greenbrook resident Gabriella Bender.
"I love this part of Bradenton. We see all kinds of wildlife out here. Greenbrook has a little bit of everything, and Gabriella has met a lot friends playing in the park."
British ex-patriot Michelle Harding loves her new home and life in Greenbrook, which she found by chance with her husband and 4-year-old son, Lewis. As for Sasha, her small dog, a cross between a beagle and dachshund, well, she enjoys it too.
"This Paw Park is brilliant. When Sasha has a lot of energy, she can burn it off and then she sleeps all day," Harding said, as she and her son headed home to the peace and serenity of Greenbrook.