Organization helping fill residents' needs
The Woodlands is known for its beautiful greenery, including the abundant trees, flora, fauna and grass, as well as its grassroots organizations like the village associations. Those associations keep the community looking and running the way it does from a neighborhood level.
Made up of residents from The Woodlands' eight villages, the village association boards serve as heads of their respective villages and act as liaisons between residents and The Woodlands Township board of directors.
Acting independently from the township, the associations often plan village-related programs and events and meet regularly to discuss community, township, village and resident relations.
Alden Bridge Village Association President Steve Leakey said the village associations are instrumental in helping residents' needs on a neighborhood level.
"It's really key that people use us as a sounding board or source of information around their homes and neighborhoods," Leakey said. "We will help explain questions about the township; we get around eight to 10 inquiries per week, probably about homeowner's issues, and we can generally help them or point them in the right direction."
Different associations have become known for their respective events, such as the Village of Grogan's Mill's Farmers Market and the Village of Panther Creek's Flea Market, said Indian Springs Village Association President Amy Lecocq.
Lecocq and Leakey said many associations have village-wide scholarship funds that assist local high school seniors, often providing multiple $1,000 academic and community leadership-based awards.
Lecocq said the township provides the associations an annual stipend, but a lot of the money is gathered through various fundraising events and activities. She said the structure for each of the associations differs and is population-based, with each president serving a two-year term.
Leakey said the ABVA assisted in implementing flashing school safety signs along Research Forest near The Woodlands High School, while Lecocq and Indian Springs have focused on community spirit and are working to have a local Boy Scout troop display American flags in the village's parks on patriotic holidays.
As more companies relocate to The Woodlands in the coming years, Lecocq said the village associations will only become more important.
"Our main interest and focus is making sure the residents in our villages are happy," Lecocq said.
Leakey and Lecocq agreed on one major issue facing the associations and the township as a whole—voter turnout.
Village association elections, which are held in February, have had a dismal showing in recent years, an issue that Lecocq said needs to change.
"Our boards are elected and people have to go to the township's offices and vote for the people they want to represent them," she said. "It would really benefit everyone if more people would come out and vote."
The associations have been around since the inception of The Woodlands and Leakey said he is convinced they are not going anywhere.
"The village associations play a critical role in serving as a source of information that filters through the township and lets them really know what's going on in the villages," Leakey said.