“If you're moving, you should move here."
That advice from 8-year-old Grace Wells about her Feather Sound neighborhood is as good a testimonial as any for the 4.2-square-mile community on Tampa Bay, between the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and the Howard Frankland Bridge.
Grace, her brother, River, 12, and parents Jenna and Billy Wells live with their miniature Australian shepherd, Heidi, in a neighborhood filled with families and kids their age. Among the other neighborhoods — there are about 20 in Feather Sound — young professionals and retirees also call this community home.
According to the 2000 census (the latest figures will not be available until April or after), 3,600 residents live in numerous types of homes, which include about 650 single-family homes as well as townhouses and condominiums. They range in price from about $150,000 to more than $2 million.
It's well known that Feather Sound's proximity to Ulmerton Road and Interstate 275 gives residents easy access to just about anywhere in the bay area.
"Tropicana Field is 15 minutes away; the Tampa airport is 15 minutes away," said Billy Wells, owner of Wells Land Development Inc. "That's what's good about it; it's right off the interstate."
Wells' wife, Jenna, grew up in Feather Sound, but it was his idea to move the family there when their daughter, Grace, was a baby. Its small-town feel makes it a great place to raise children, they say.
"The kids here are always playing outside. They don't sit in the house watching TV or playing video games," Wells said.
"My girlfriends and I watch out for each others' kids," Jenna Wells said. The neighborhood moms are a tight-knit group. She said most of them met when their children attended the preschool at Feather Sound Community Church.
The adults watch out for each other, too — at each other's good times. The Wellses said there are easily 50 people at a neighborhood party, and they have a lot of parties.
"If there's a reason to celebrate it, we celebrate it," Jenna Wells said. That includes dogs' birthdays, including the upcoming 2nd birthday party for Tootsie, a neighbor's Cavalier King Charles spaniel-bichon frise mix.
"Bring your dogs and their leashes," the invitation says. "We'll be playing games and eating ice cream."
The kids eat a lot of ice cream. Billy Wells said the local Good Humor man knows a good thing when he sees it. He said the truck often comes through five times a day.
As their dad spoke, River and Grace patiently waited their turns to disclose more reasons they like living in Feather Sound. They had no shortage of good things to say.
Grace likes that "there's not one family that's bad."
River likes to go fishing in the nearby pond.
"I really love it here," their mom said. "Everything is here."
Patti Ewald is a freelance writer based in Gulfport. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org