Our Town: Residents enjoy ‘quiet safety’ of life on the Hill

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times The Ruble family, from left to right, Kellen, Corbin, Gabriel and Trisha, play on the playground equipment in Gold Star Park on Harmar Hill Thursday.

Up on the hilltop of the west side there sits a community all of its own, part of Marietta but situated above most of it.

With modest houses generally with one-third to a half acre of land, garages and ample front lawns, Harmar Hill is known for its quiet safety.

“I’ve lived on Harmar Hill for 70 years,” said Ken Strahler. “All my life, I grew up here and never moved because it’s such a good neighborhood.”

Strahler coordinates the Neighborhood Watch volunteers, a group that was formed in 1996 to combat vandalism and theft on the hill and give a greater peace of mind to residents.

“We have signs in the yards and good neighbors that call when they notice things,” said Strahler.

The safety is an oft-lauded characteristic that others in the neighborhood say drew them to settle on the rolling hills that once stood as farmland before being developed into one of the first suburbs of Marietta between the

1940s and 1960s.

“(The active neighborhood watch) I think is a good deterrent, plus all of the active and retired law enforcement that live up here,” said Kellen Ruble, 34. “It’s so peaceful and quiet and you don’t have to worry about traffic, our kids can play outside.”

The Ruble family lives just up the hill from the newly installed playground at Gold Star Park (formerly Lookout Park).

“The city just redid that and it’s wonderful,” said Ruble.

He said the draw when he moved in down the street years ago was the same as it is now, just a year and a half after the couple moved their family into their home near the end of Summit Street.

“I grew up out on (Ohio) 550 with a big backyard but when I started looking for a house I still wanted to be close to town,” he explained. “Here the pizza (shops) still deliver and I could sit outside all day and maybe see three cars so it’s the best of both worlds.”

The only challenge Ruble and his wife Trisha noted is that their small street can be one of the last to get plowed after a snowstorm.

“Getting from here to (Ohio) 676 is an ordeal in the snow,” she said. “But with only five houses on the street we get that it’s not a priority, and 676 is always cleared quickly.”

Concerns of the steep hill of Lancaster Street in the winter were quickly abated for Joan Smith, who lives next door to the Rubles.

“I moved here because my daughter lives on Bellevue and when I first bought the house I thought ‘Oh my golly that road,'” said the 68-year-old teacher. “I was worried but they’re so good about keeping it clear.”

She said the only trouble spot sits in front of the BP gas station at the corner of Lancaster and Alta streets.

“That spot always seems to be wet,” she said. “Whenever I drive through it to get home it’s wet or there’s rough road.”

Behind the gas station there’s also Marietta Center, a nursing home leading to Lookout Point on Bellevue Street and up Alta Street the Veritas Classical Academy has in recent years made use of the old Fairview School that once also housed the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center.

For the Kimball family, who have lived on Edgewood Drive since 1975, raising their family in a low-traffic area while still being close to town was a must. Now Marshall, who went from directing the high school band to heading of the music department at Marietta College, says the location is prime for all of the events he attends.

“It’s less than two minutes from my house to the Hermann Fine Arts parking lot,” he said.

With lights strung not only around his bushes, but on garland along the railing and around his front door he said Christmas decorations are somewhat of an addiction.

“Now my neighbors, if it’s not up by the time they think it should be up, will say ‘um, when are you putting your lights up?'” said Kimball. “They expect me to do it.”

He said he and his wife have expanded the home in their 42 years there, adding on to the back of the house a sunroom and a bathroom.

“It’s always been a quiet neighborhood and people look out for each other up here,” he said. “When we were looking for a house this was what was affordable while still living close to downtown but not in downtown.”

His only hang-up?

“There are really old water mains up here and last winter when one busted it went into our basement,” he said. “But the city was really quick about getting up here to work on it. Meanwhile I had to call a plumber for the old copper pipes in the house that kept springing leaks. Now the house is pretty much all new inside.”

At a glance

Harmar Hill Demographics:

¯ Population: 2,299.

¯ 97.6 percent white.

¯ 2.1 percent black.

¯ 50.3 percent female.

¯ 49.7 percent male.

¯ Median Household Income: $38,906.

¯ Median House Value: $107,304.

¯ Median Rent: $413 per month.

¯ Unemployment rate: 10.5 percent.

¯ Residents below federal poverty level: 9.07 percent.

¯ Median age: 47.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.