Previously published on azcentral.com.
It was half-past 7 o’clock on a breezy May morning and Linda McAteer had already gotten in some time on the tennis courts, exemplifying how Sunland Springs Village homeowners put the word “active” in the phrase “active adult living.”
“Everyone here just wants to be outside,” McAteer said.
She took up the sport in 2012, when a knee replacement forced the retired teacher to give up playing racquetball and allowed her to become an official member of what she affectionately terms “the zipper club,” thanks to the barely visible scar she sustained. A second knee replacement in October didn’t keep her away from the court for long, either. Her smooth recovery, she said, likely was due in part to Sunland Springs’ facilities, including a pool and fitness center equipment, which are designed to aid people going through physical therapy.
“They think of everything here,” McAteer said.
She and her husband, John, were living in Show Low several years ago when they realized they hated dealing with winter. They drove through the Valley and were impressed with the communities of Farnsworth Development, which built Sunland Springs in Mesa and three other area neighborhoods. They bought a townhome.
Linda McAteer enjoys the multitude of recreational and social outlets, everything from fundraisers and variety shows featuring residents to ponytail canasta and a quilting group that contributes a lot of its handiwork to charity. “I iron the seams because I don’t know how to quilt,” she said.
There’s even a late afternoon group that gathers most months at a rather unusual site.
“In our townhome community, we have a mailbox happy hour,” said McAteer, who’s also on an HOA committee for recreation and facilities. “Our mailbox happens to have its own little parking lot, and sometimes we’ll have as many as 60 people, although in summer our numbers go down. We pull up lawn chairs, visit with everybody and find out who has new grandkids.”
Roy Brandli has lived in Sunland Springs Village with his wife, Clara Ann, nearly eight years. The outgoing pickle ball enthusiast is also a realtor for Farnsworth’s Realty & Management Company, so his life consists of “sports in the morning and real estate in the afternoon.”
Business is going well this year, he said. He chalks up the success to Sunland Springs’ quality-built homes, which include townhomes (starting at $168,000), golf condos ($244,000 and up) and custom builds ($201,000 and up). The community is located south of Baseline Road and west of Meridian Road.
The final phase of the master-planned subdivision is just getting started and will add another 700 homes to the existing 2,200.
“So many homes nowadays are built on narrow, skinny lots, but this builder doesn’t do that,” said Brandli, who previously lived at another Farnsworth community, Sunland Village East. “These lots are wide and the curb appeal is phenomenal. It’s almost like a custom area. In fact, you can bring your own floor plan, and they’ll build it — there are even four houses with basements in here.”
Although Brandli enjoys sports, he said he “can’t hold a candle” to younger sister Ila — another Sunland Springs resident and neighbor. She took up running marathons at 62 and recently ran seven full marathons in seven days. Why?
“Because I can,” she said with a sly smile, adding, “Sometimes I win the age group because I’m the only one out there.”
Currently planning to conquer marathons on all continents, Ila Brandli will travel to Greece and Istanbul later this year and Chile and Antarctica in February 2015. Since she’s also a realtor with Farnsworth, she said she has to let potential clients know there will be times when she just can’t be reached.
“I tell them that I sell homes to support this addiction to marathons,” she said, noting that many fellow residents donated graciously to help her raise money to run in her first race.
As she gets ready for her next race, Ila Brandli is sure to receive lots of support from her community, and not just from her brother and friends, but also her mom. The siblings’ mom, Luella, who turns 92 in July, also is a Sunland Springs resident.