UNIVERSITY PARK -- When Lucille Pohl and her husband decided to retire to Sarasota from their home in Evanston, Ill., the landscaping and the quietness of The Meadows attracted the couple to move to the more than 1,650 acre development.
"It seemed like a really pleasurable place," said Pohl, who moved to the Chandlers Forde subdivision with her husband three years ago. In addition to exploring Old Florida, Pohl volunteers at the library located in The Meadows Community Center, which is filled with books donated by residents, because her "last couple of jobs were in libraries and I love books."
"I've met some people (in the library) that have lived in The Meadows for 30 years and it is nice to know the background and people come and go too," she said.
The Meadows, a deed-restricted community, was the first development of regional impact approved under the Sarasota County government on Nov. 14, 1974, and the neighborhood was approved for 4,902 dwelling units. The Meadows, which is comprised of 50 condominiums and eight homeowner associations, has about 3,500 units today. Since the 1990s, the neighborhood has for the most part been built out, according to The Meadows Community Association manager Len Smally.
Located off of Honore Road between Fruitville Road and University Parkway, The Meadows is within minutes of The Mall at University Town Center and portions of the neighborhood borders Nathan Benderson Park. The Meadows also has a country
club with three golf courses, 16 tennis courts and a fitness center on its premises, as well as a nursing home and an active rental retirement community in the development.
In the short amount of time since the Pohls moved to Sarasota, they've watched University Parkway continue to be developed with more retail. While Pohl said it is nice to have so many stores close to The Meadows, she hopes that the overflow traffic doesn't congest the neighborhood.
"It doesn't bother me right now," she said. "I hope there is not an increase in traffic inside The Meadows but it is nice for everything to be so handy."
Smally said the residents are the No. 1 source of volunteers for Benderson Park.
"We try to support the events as much as possible with volunteers," Smally said, adding that traffic from the mall hasn't been a problem in the neighborhood.
Amenities close by
In addition to being home to about 8,000 residents during the season, The Meadows has its own shopping area called The Meadows Shopping Village so residents can take advantage of amenities including the dentist, barber and beauty shops, travel agency, bank and restaurants right inside the neighborhood without having to leave.
"We were kind of the poster child for the 2050 plan," Smally said. "We have so much green space and the shopping village."
This green space has won the neighborhood numerous awards over the years including awards from the Garden Club about the neighborhood's natural beauty and recycling awards.
"We've got good people that understand protecting the environment, volunteer and keep the place more natural than manicured," Smally said.
Sigrid Jensen, who moved to The Meadows from Madison, Wisc., with her husband 15 years ago, said she enjoys sitting on the benches behind the shopping village next to one of the neighborhood's 85 lakes. On Tuesday, after playing a round of golf in the morning, Jensen sat out by the lake thinking about the people she's lost over the years and completed her crossword puzzle.
With the convenience of the shopping in The Meadows, Jensen said she avoids University Parkway as much as she can.
"I don't have to go on University unless I really have to," she said, adding that she likes to go to the restaurants in the shopping village.
When the Jensens moved to Chatsworth Greene, they didn't know anyone but have found their neighbors to be friendly and welcoming, Jensen said.
"We are very lucky in The Meadows," she said. "The people are so nice. We've met nothing but wonderful new friends."
The Meadows Community Association, which oversees the entire neighborhood, hosts community activities and events for residents including bingo, bridge and mah jongg. They are also have special events including a garage sale held the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a Christmas Party, a newcomers luncheon and a Hanukkah party and menorah lighting.
The Sarasota Model Yacht Club uses the lake adjacent to the community center three times a week to race itsr radio-controlled boats. Al Sefton, the club's race director, said The Meadows has treated the club well as they built two docks at the lake specifically for the club.
"This is a pretty good size lake, which we like," Sefton said. On Saturday mornings, Sefton said a lot of the community walks and runs around the lake and often stop to watch the boats.
Dave Janes, who lives in the Villas Majorca subdivision in The Meadows, is also a member of the yacht club. Janes has lived in Sarasota since 1984 and when the opportunity came to move into the neighborhood, Janes said his family jumped at the chance.
"The Meadows has always been an attractive place to us," said Janes, who moved to the neighborhood about a year and a half ago. "I like the established landscaping particularly the oak and the pine trees because they remind me of New England where I'm originally from."
Janes said he is appreciative of The Meadows for allowing the yacht club to use the lake.
"I'm proud of the fact that The Meadows has welcomed sailors here," he said. "They contributed a great deal of cost and manpower (to building the docks)."
Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.