by Mike Conroy
The temperatures keep dropping, we’ve already had a taste of snow this season (with more predicted on the way) and before we know it, the winter holidays will be over and another new year will begin. Before we get that far ahead, let’s take a look back at what has changed in the community this year.
A lot happens on a daily basis both in the community and in the Montgomery Village Foundation (MVF) Office. The changes residents see in the community are a direct result of the hard work and dedication of the MVF Board of Directors and staff, who all understand the importance of keeping the Village moving forward. On the personnel side of things, MVF saw new faces in the Director of Architectural Standards and CFO roles this year. Katherine Webb (architecture) was hired to fill the shoes of long-time employee Diane Stasiewicz and Daniel Salazar was promoted to CFO, taking the reins from Greg Snellings. Both have brought new ideas and insights to their respective departments, creating new teams of employees dedicated to superior customer service.
Additionally, we added a new Digital Content Specialist keep up with our growing social media and digital offerings. As a result, resident engagement online is at an all-time high, and we’ve opened up some new avenues of communication. Stay tuned in 2019 for the next wave of digital enhancements and social media outlets.
And the MVF Board also installed the first Student Representative, Chioma Nwoye, after identifying the need to increase youth involvement and communication with Village schools at the 2017 Board Retreat. A program was developed to add this position to the Board, including a summer internship in the MVF Office to fully educate students on how MVF operates. The success of this inaugural venture has opened the door for other students to apply on an annual basis for the position.
These new faces, together with the rest of the MVF staff, have worked on many operational changes this past year. MVF’s expanded digital outreach includes a newly designed Village News interface which presents news in a faster, more up-to-date manner than the print editions. News is uploaded as it is received, constantly changes on the website homepage as well as the Village News home page, and also allows for more advertising opportunities; subsequently, the print editions have been reduced to once per month.
Based on discussion from the 2018 MVF Board Retreat, staff started the process to potentially add a digital sign at the entrance to one of the facilities. If approved by the county and installed, this sign would help advertise Village events, classes and programs, as well as serve for displaying emergency messages or other important community announcements.
Not to take away from the natural aspects of the community that many enjoy in Montgomery Village, the community was again recognized as a Tree City for the commitment shown to maintaining our tree canopy. This was Montgomery Village’s 29th consecutive Tree City title. Additionally, MVF has partnered with MCDOT to monitor, remove and replace problem trees along county roads. The dedication of both entities helps maintain our bit of greenspace in a continually changing county landscape.
Speaking of changing landscape, the Village has seen its share of updates to the norm this past year. The ballfield at South Valley Park was given a much needed overhaul, to complement the recent concession stand and restroom facilities addition. The field was regraded, given an irrigation system and reseeded with Bermuda grass turf. Soccer and football goals are available on the field, providing a premier, permit-use field for area sports teams. Several playgrounds were replaced this year—those at Whetstone and Stedwick community centers—along with a new all abilities playground at the Apple Ridge Recreation Area. Resident input was a key component of these projects, adding value to the areas our residents use the most.
In addition to updating amenities, several new programs were added in 2018, exposing many more residents to opportunities to enjoy the community they live in. On the heels of the successful Whetstone Afterschool Club, the same opportunity was created to serve students in the Stedwick area with the Stedwick Afterschool Club. Both programs give kids a place to have fun and get school work done, and provide parents with another alternative for aftercare. We also added afternoon open gym time at Lake Marion Community Center for those looking for something a little more active.
Getting families to participate in activities together was another accomplishment in 2018 through the newly added Bingo night, Flashlight Halloween Hunt and Fishing Rodeo. For teens, an opportunity to help create meaningful programs, as well as earn SSL hours was developed. The Teens Making a Difference in the Community program gives teens a voice and the chance to build leadership skills at the same time.
Finally, MVF Recreation and Parks partnered with other area organizations to expand youth sports programs. Working with Montgomery Village Sports Association, a new soccer team was created to participate in local leagues. We also began offering T-ball, basketball and cross country teams that compete in Gaithersburg’s sports leagues.
These changes that will help shape the future of recreation in the Village were all part of the new Recreation Strategic Plan approved in 2018. The plan, formed under the leadership of new Director of Recreation and Parks Duncan Mullis, is a venture to analyze all facets of recreation opportunities in the community and align offerings with trends and resident needs.
While we’re all waiting with anticipation to see physical changes at the Village Center, Professional Center and on the former golf course property, a lot has happened in preparation for these sites. Atlantic Realty Companies announced that Aldi will be the anchor grocery store at the Village Center; German grocer Lidl is the current prospect for purchasing the Professional Center; and Monument Realty has an approved site plan for the golf course property from the county. And even though Trader Joe’s left Montgomery Village, the Patel Brothers grocery store will be occupying that space.
Although it proved a minor inconvenience during the work, Watkins Mill Road was resurfaced this year, literally paving a smooth ride through the Village. New street lights are being added along Montgomery Village Avenue to help light some of the darkest portions of the road. And to help keep us that much safer, a team of six police officers was added to the 6th District dedicated to service right here in Montgomery Village.
Finally, in the community, we’re proud to highlight our awesome residents. In 2018 we’ve seen our youth excel in leadership workshops; place in Math Olympics and Spelling Bees; earn Eagle Scout and Gold Awards; and be recognized with national awards. MVF’s own Conservation Corps (formerly the Youth Corps) took on various projects throughout the summer in MVF parks, keeping the community looking its best and learning about their hometown along the way. And, in case you’ve missed them, check out the “What’s Your Story?” video interviews with your Village neighbors. This past year we’ve highlighted some residents with great stories to share…who knows, you could be next!
Thanks, Montgomery Village, for another excellent year. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year—let’s make 2019 a year to remember!