It's dusk. A middle-aged man sits contently enjoying the warm summer air on the porch of his home on Painted Post Road. A young girl kicks her soccer ball around on Bittersweet Court. The sun begins to set over the neighborhood of Scotts Hill, a community near Pikesville in Baltimore County.
The area, composed of 294 homes, is adjacent to Baltimore County's 280-acre Gwynns Falls Stream Valley Park and the Talmudical Academy, a private Jewish day school.
It also has been home for the past 17 years to Paul Gahagan, president of the neighborhood improvement association.
Gahagan, who has been president since October 1995, said the neighborhood is ideal for young couples as well as middle-aged couples with children because of the nearby schools, synagogues, churches and the park.
The neighborhood is one of ranchers, split foyers and split-levels. "There's no fifth-story climbing here," Gahagan said.
Metro stations at Milford Mill Road and Old Court Road enable residents to commute to Baltimore in 25 minutes and to Owings Mills Town Center for shopping in five minutes.
The Scotts Hill Improvement Association, founded in the early 1960s, has seen its activism decline over the years.
"Right now it's just a sounding board for minor problems," said a former association president, Nancy Ruben. "We don't have any large problems at this moment. We make sure that the neighborhood is kept up nicely."
Gahagan said only 13 people showed up at the association's last meeting about two years ago.
"We have not had any fresh blood in at least four years now," he said.
Nevertheless, Gahagan has during his presidency been able to get the community's street lights upgraded and has had traffic patterns changed so residents can take a left turn onto Milford Mill Road from Scotts Hill Drive.
About four years ago, he held an informational meeting after it was discovered that the state Juvenile Justice Department had rented a home to use as a kind of halfway house for delinquents.
"Most of the neighbors didn't even know," he said. "After we found out about this one, we investigated and found out there were four others." Those alternative-living units were used to house other types of residents, such as unwed mothers, the deaf and people with multiple sclerosis.
Even though the association does not hold regular meetings, it stands ready to address any situation that might arise, Gahagan said.
Besides the help of the improvement association, there is also the Scotts Hill Web site designed by Joe Brown, who has lived in the neighborhood for six years and who headed the neighborhood watch.
Because of the ethnic diversity in the neighborhood, Brown included links to the Jewish Community Center and the African-American Community Resource Center.
Diversity is one of the reasons Ruben wanted to live in Scotts Hill. She moved there in August 1967.
"I just like to be amongst all kinds of people," she said. "We have just about every religion that you could imagine."
Ruben added that Scotts Hill has a growing Orthodox Jewish population.
"Just a couple years ago there was nobody [Orthodox], now there's about 15 percent," she said.
Another reason she lives in Scotts Hill is because she said she feels safe there. The neighborhood, which has nine cul de sacs, is designed in such a way that there is "only one way in and out."
"If someone were to do something in this neighborhood, they have to escape through one route," she said, referring to Scotts Hill Drive.
Scotts Hill Drive connects Milford Mill Road and Old Court Road. "So those are the two entrances. There's not a lot of traffic. Anyone who turns on that road [Scotts Hill Drive] would have to live in the community. You would have to be destined for this area."
ZIP code: 21208
Commute to downtown Baltimore:30 minutes
Public schools: Scotts Branch Elementary School, Old Court Middle School, Sudbrook Middle School, Milford Mill Academy
Shopping: Pikesville Plaza, Pikesville Shopping Center, Festival at Woodholme, Liberty Court Shopping Center, Owings Mills mall
Homes on market: 1
Average listing price: $125,300*
Average sale price: $124,973*
Average days on market: 38*
Sale price as percentage of listing price: 99.74%**Based on eight sales during the past 12 months, compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.