20 Jul Clay Creek Way and Mickelson Way
Front porches and street trees.
A walkable neighborhood.
“This is the friendliest neighborhood I have ever lived in.”Glen
As I was walking along Clay Creek Way in July 2023, I stopped to admire and photograph a vibrant, colorful flower-filled garden. Minutes later, I was conversing with homeowners Glen and Ken about flowers, local nurseries, photography, OLLI classes and the neighborhood. I was impressed by Glen’s effusive description: “This is the friendliest neighborhood I have ever lived in.” He and Ken spoke warmly of people sitting on their front porches, chatting with local dog walkers and other neighbors out for an evening stroll. They also expressed, more seriously, that neighbors look out for each other because of health issues or other needs.
We are fortunate that many Ashland neighborhoods have some of these “small town” qualities. The neighborhood HOA (home owners association) summed it up this way: “The Clay Creek Gardens HOA is dedicated to creating a great Ashland neighborhood characterized by architecturally distinctive homes, beautiful open spaces and neighbors that know and support each other. For some of us that have lived here awhile we think of it as a new ‘old school’ neighborhood reminiscent of the neighborhoods in which we grew up.”
In this photo essay, I will introduce you to Clay Creek Way and Mickelson Way, which are part of a neighborhood of 61 homes between Tolman Creek Road and Clay Street. The neighborhood also includes Takelma Way, which you can learn about in my photo essay here. Most of the homes in this neighborhood were built between 1998 and 2005.
Let’s look – through a variety of photos – at some of the qualities that make these streets so pleasant to live on and walk along. As I wrote in my photo essay about Takelma Way: “The neighborhood was built following the principles of ‘new urbanism.’ The HOA website describes new urbanism as ‘a concept that encourages walkable communities, compact design with a focus on smaller lots, extensive shared community spaces and homes that encourage neighbors to interact with each other.’ Practically speaking, the houses have covered front porches that face the sidewalk to encourage communication with neighbors who are out for a walk. There are narrow streets with wide sidewalks, so it doesn’t feel like cars dominate the space. The architecture of the houses is not ‘cookie-cutter,’ but encompasses a variety of styles.”
Pocket parks and shade trees make a difference you can feel
I started my walk on the east end of Clay Creek Way. There is a lovely pocket park here, at the intersection with Takelma Way, a communal space for locals to meet.
The twenty year old street trees on both sides of Clay Creek Way provide soothing shade for a 90 degree July walk.
Little Free Library
Near the pocket park, in the park way, you’ll find a Little Free Library. Ashland has dozens of Little Free Libraries around town, but the extra touch of a nearby bench where you can sit in the shade to read your new (to you) book makes this one extra special.
Alleys and paths
One of the many details that makes this a walkable neighborhood is the way alleys and paths reduce car and truck interactions with pedestrians who walk the shady sidewalks. The path in the photo above gives people a shortcut from Clay Creek Way to Takelma Way. The alleys in the photos below move the garages, autos and trucks (trash and recycling) away from the narrow street and friendly sidewalks.
Front porches can make a difference
Front porches are sometimes a marketing gimmick in new house construction. Even if a front porch is lovely, if it is too far from the sidewalk or elevated too high, it will be less likely to encourage interaction. Here on Clay Creek Way and Mickelson Way, the front porches really work to knit the neighbors together. They are near the sidewalk but still have plant-filled front yards as a buffer zone and beauty zone. The porches are covered to protect sitters from hot sun or wet rain. They are large enough for a bench, sofa or several comfortable chairs, but are not ostentatious. Here are several more photos of front porches I liked on these two streets.
Yard art, flowers and more flags
I saw both American flags and Ukrainian flags during my July 2023 walk. The front yards are small, but give homeowners enough room for creativity with greenery, flowers and yard art. Here are more lovely yard details I noticed during my walk along Clay Creek Way and Mickelson Way.