---- — MANKATO — One of Mankato's newest neighborhoods has officially become the newest neighborhood association.
"It's a nice neighborhood. There's lots of kids playing in yards. A nice, safe neighborhood," said Aaron Cotton, president of the association, which was officially recognized by the Mankato City Council this week.
Neighbors grilled brats and burgers in a park under a hot sun Tuesday night, coupling their first meeting with the citywide Night to Unite event.
The Trail Creek neighborhood, which began being developed about five years ago, is east of the Menards area, bounded by Highway 22, the airport road, North Victory Drive and Energy Drive.
Cotton said the area has an advantage in its location. "It's almost like you're living in the country with people you like, but you're two minutes from all the shopping."
He said the association's focus won't likely be on any dire problems, but rather quality of life issues. "Things like trying to get snowplows out here a little faster, removing some dead trees. There's been some feedback on people driving a little fast, so we're getting some new signs."
He said the association already has one advantage. "People know each other. A lot have small kids that play together."
There are four other recognized neighborhood associations in Mankato – Lincoln Park, Washington Park, Tourtellotte Park and Highland Park.
To be recognized, associations must have established boundaries, bylaws and officers.
Night to Unite events were held at about 40 neighborhoods across town Tuesday. The event is part of National Night Out, but it was moved to a different date than the national events a few years ago to allow for returning college students to attend.
City employees, fire and police visited events to talk with residents, introduce themselves and answer any questions.