Spotlight on Arlington’s Wimbledon neighborhood

Posted Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Residents of one southwest Arlington neighborhood like their area so much that it’s not uncommon for them to stay within its shady confines even when they sell one house and buy another.

“We’re on our second house here,” said Chris Phenix, a Wimbledon resident since 2004, explaining the neighborhood pattern of moving from house to house. “People upsize and downsize. We moved to Tournament Trail from Bedford Court just to get a swimming pool.”

The 2-square-mile area is populated by original residents of the first houses, built in the late 1970s and early ’80s; residents who grew up there, left and came back with their own children in tow; and newcomers attracted to the upscale houses and large yards.

The tennis-themed street names pay homage to a popular racket club that anchored the neighborhood. It burned in 1991 and was not replaced.

“We have a varied group of retired people, young professionals [and] law enforcement [officers] living in the area,” said Ken Wittmayer, president of the Wimbledon Homeowners Association. He characterized the residents as “pretty tightknit.”

The homeowners association covers 177 lots in the original neighborhood, bounded by Bowen Road on the west, Bardin Road on the north, Old Mansfield Road on the east and Wimbledon Drive on the south.

Home prices range from $220,000 to $600,000. Most children attend Arlington schools, but some live in the Mansfield district.

“We like it because it is close to everything; it’s close to the mall and other shopping and easy to go out to eat, even in Mansfield,” said Wittmayer, who has lived in the area for 15 years.

Newer developments with Wimbledon’s DNA have grown around the neighborhood: Wimbledon on the Creek, The Estates Above Wimbledon, Deerwood Park, each with its own homeowners association.

But one group covers the entire area, providing a connection with both consistency and longevity.

“The real strength of the neighborhood is the women’s garden club,” said City Council member Sheri Capehart, who represents the area. “It’s solely women, and they are in all kinds of other organizations and support many other efforts. They get involved with issues in the community.”

Phenix is president of the garden club, which was formed in 1980. Its work has helped define the neighborhood and give it a distinctive character.

The group of more than 80 women (some of whom drag along their spouses) maintains the medians on Bardin Road and at the entrances to the neighborhood and on the cul de sacs.

It was instrumental in getting the neighborhood’s main feature, the 1,592-acre Wimbledon Park, built in 1985 at 2300 Wimbledon Drive. More recently members installed and maintain a smaller perennial garden in the park’s northwest corner.

They make and hang red Christmas bows on mailboxes every year, one for each of the 700 to 800 houses in Wimbledon and its surrounding neighborhoods.

“You could write the Great American Novel about Wimbledon,” said Carole Hoyer, a resident since 1979 and a garden club member. “We all keep threatening to do that. But it’s really a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, even though traffic on Bowen has changed over the years.”

Now, Wimbledon residents await the impact of a new charter school, International Leadership of Texas. They are encouraged, they say, that the school is working on staggered schedules to lessen traffic issues on an already crowded Bowen.

The school is under construction on 40 acres along Bowen Road at its intersection with Bardin Road. It has a projected enrollment of 1,200 students in an 81,000-square-foot building.

The new campus is just up the road from another charter school, Arlington Classics Academy, at 5200 S. Bowen Road.

“It is difficult to get out on Bowen Road at Wimbledon Drive now,” Wittmayer said. “Cooper Street backs up, and a lot of people are using Bowen to go south all the way from [Interstate 30]. Everybody’s trying to wait and see what this new school brings in traffic.”

Some feel, like Hoyer, that the new charter school is a better alternative to the gas drilling well that was earlier planned for the site.

Neighborhood opinion on the gas well drilling issue “was kinda divided,” Wittmayer said. “A lot of people didn’t care. Others, myself included, thought it would probably never happen, and it hasn’t.”

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins

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