Minutes from the May 20, 2019

MSCA ANNUAL MEETING with Guest Speakers from the Maryland Department of Transportation I-495 & I-270 Public-Private Partnership (P3) Program & Managed Lane Project.

Ritchie Park Elementary School All Purpose Room 7:00pm-9:00pm

At 7:00, President Bob Gross began the MSCA meeting by introducing the guest speakers:  P3 Project Director Lisa Choplin, Deputy Director Jeff Folden, and Principal/Senior Environmental Specialist Caryn Brookman.

The presentations included discussion of the statistics on congestion and the process by which the plans have been made to relieve congestion and transportation barriers in part by altering traffic patterns on 495 and 270.  There are currently seven roadway design alternatives under consideration, which include a mix of high-occupancy toll lanes (HOT), express toll lanes (ETL), and reversible lanes.  The presenters assured the audience that the designs are being made with the goal of minimizing the footprint and associated impacts.  This could be accomplished in part by eliminating the “local” lanes and by removing the jersey wall barriers currently in place between the main lanes and the local lanes.  The project will be a public-private partnership with a private developer that will be responsible for the construction and management of toll lanes, although the State of Maryland will maintain control of the Maryland portion of the project.  In December 2019, the preferred alternative will be decided and presented to the public and only then the project will go out for bids.

Our speakers were truly outstanding, and they illustrated their presentations on a large screen using graphs, charts, photos, and maps.  They also provided handouts showing each design alternative under consideration.  There was a question and answer session and everyone in the room had an opportunity to ask questions, ask follow-up questions, and provide their thoughts, concerns, and any other input.  All came away from the meeting feeling that they were heard and well informed.  Given the intimate nature of the all-purpose-room, a microphone was not necessary (although available), and everyone got to meet to the speakers in person and view their materials up close.  Because the project is huge and will affect us all in one way or the other, all agreed that we should invite back the speakers to our next annual meeting in May 2020 for another update on the project’s progress.

At 8:20, after thanking Ms. Choplin, Mr. Folden and Ms. Brookman for their insightful and informative presentations, President Bob Gross provided an update on the utility projects in the neighborhood and began the regular business portion of the meeting.

From left to right:  Ms. Choplin, Mr. Folden, and Ms. Brookman

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) Project:  Main water line replacement is ongoing on the north side of Montgomery Square (i.e., north of Montrose Road), with periodic updates posted on the MSCA website.  On the south side of Montgomery Square (i.e., south of Montrose Road), WSSC is planning to dig up the roads for new water lines on stretches of Devilwood, Whites Ford, and Jubal Early including laying a line under Montrose Road, which will connect the north side to the south side. 

A color-coded map of what WSSC calls the “Devilwood Drive Watermain Replacement Project” can be found on this MSCA website

The red lines on the map show where new waterlines will be installed on the south side; the purple lines show where they are now being installed on the north side; and the blue lines show where WSSC already installed new lines on the south side (this was done several years ago and these lines will not need replacement).   

When the north side waterline project is completed, those streets will be repaved, but the contractor will not repave the streets that were not disturbed.  MSCA has made contact with the county and is advocating for the complete repaving on the non-disturbed streets, with the hope that the entire north side will be repaved.  The north side project is being done by sections, but none of the repaving will occur until the entire project is complete.  WSSC will begin digging up the south side for the same project (see the red lines on the project map noted above) in about two years.  The delay is necessary because the roads were repaved by Washington Gas at the end of its recent gas line installation work, and the County forbids streets to be dug up for a new project for at least two years after they have been repaved as a result of a previous project.  It’s a shame the two companies could not have better coordinated their work.

WGL Project:  South side gas lines and meters were replaced on all the streets; whereas, on the north side, gas lines and meters were replaced only on case-by-case basis.  Repaving on the south side was done after the gas company completed their work and a beautiful job was done.  Unfortunately, the smell of gas was reported in some areas despite the installation of new lines.  This resulted in some redigging and repaving but all seems good as of this date.  

Streets:  It is a goal for MSCA to help keep the neighborhood as beautiful as possible, including landscaping of our main entranceways, tree planting, street repaving, and repair of potholes unrelated to the utility projects.  Please call 311 to report potholes – the county will usually repair them within a few days.  Also, please call 311 to report dead or unhealthy trees located on the County’s right-of-way.  The spray paint used on the streets by the utility companies is unsightly and annoying, but unfortunately, we must wait for it to wear off, which can take a year or more.

Website:  The MSCA board is looking for someone to take on the role of webmaster – www.montgomerysquare.org.  Steve Schuck is doing a great job maintaining and updating our website but would appreciate some help.  Please contact Steve if you are interested. 

Membership Chair:  A membership chair is needed.  Please contact Bob Gross if interested.

Financial report:  Each year, we collect about $50 in dues from about 220 houses, giving us about $11,000/year.  Expenses include landscaping of the entrances, including planting flowers, mulching, pruning, watering, weeding, mowing, and raking leaves; block parties and other social activities; liability insurance; the website; community yard sale; minor wall repairs, and the Tetragon newsletter.  In 2018, these expenses consumed almost the entire amount collected in dues and left only $400 in reserve to pay for any additional activities or unexpected costs. 

Dues have not been raised for over 10 years, yet the costs of landscaping and other services continue to rise.  Dues notices are sent in the mail, and non-responders get a second mailing, because more participation would help.  For the most part, the dues payers are the same ones, year after year.  The idea that the block captains might reach out to the non-responders in the future was briefly discussed. 

The issue of a dues increase to $75 or even $100 a household was raised.  It was mentioned that, because we do not have an HOA, our neighborhood organization is a bargain.  Board members spend a lot of hours to make our association a success, and they are all volunteers.  To get a sense of the community, Bob asked the meeting participants to vote on raising the dues to $75, and the group overwhelmingly voted in favor of such an increase, with 25 voting in favor and only 2 opposed.

Tree planting:  This program, coordinated by the board, has been very successful, with over 200 trees planted so far.  Early in the spring, many of the new trees were already flowering.  This is a long-term investment in the beauty of the neighborhood and is free of charge to residents.  Anyone interested in having trees planted in the front yard can make a request by filling out a form.  Bob was pleased to report that approximately 20 households have submitted a form to MSCA for the upcoming fall plantings.  See our website at http://montgomerysquare.org/trees for more information.

Social Calendar:  MSCA has a new social chairperson, Patrice Ju.  There will be a block party in the fall, as usual.  Patrice is looking forward to adding other social events and seeks your ideas.  Her email address can be found on our website.  In the 1960s, when the neighborhood was new, there were many social events as documented in a large box of materials provided to Bob Gross by former president, Lisa Hall.  Please see our Secretary, Jane Acri, if you are interested in seeing the materials.

Yard Sale:  June 1-2 is the community yard sale in conjunction with Regency Estates and Potomac Woods.  The event will be advertised in the Washington Post, Craig’s List, and Next Door.  

Election of officers:  The current officers agreed to remain on the Governing Board for another term of one year or until successors are elected.  A vote was taken and it was unanimously decided that they should remain.  Many, including Bob Gross (president). Steve Schuck (vice president), and David Grossman (treasurer) have been serving the community for many years (Bob, for over 20 years, and Steve and David for almost that amount).  We encourage all residents to participate in Board meetings and other events so a succession plan can be put in place.  Rudy Oswald (a long-time resident), on behalf of the meeting’s participants, thanked Bob, Steve and the rest of the board for their exemplary dedication and service. 

The meeting adjourned at 8:45.

Community Yard Sale – Saturday June 1st 9-12 & Sunday June 2nd 12-3

If you’re thinking of doing a yard sale, the community wide yard sale is coming up. Homeowners conduct the sale at their home or join a neighbor for increased traffic.

This year, Montgomery Square will again partner with Potomac Woods and likely Regency Estates. Yard Sale banners will be posted the week of the sale and the event will be advertised thru the Washington Post, Craig’s List and social media. On the sale dates, Steve puts up directional signs and maps at the main entrances.

If you want to be listed for the yard sale please email Steve at SchuckGroup@LongandFoster.com

5/20/19 – Ritchie Park Elementary School All Purpose Room, 7:00pm-9:00pm

Guest Speakers – I-495 & I-270 P3 & Managed Lanes Study Update
Presenters are: Project Managers Jeff Folden and Lisa Choplin along with Caryn Brookman.

They will do a 30-minute presentation with emphasis on environmental impacts (property and noise) and an understanding of the P3 process. Additional time has been set aside for Q&A.

After, we will have a short MSCA business meeting, which will include updates on utility company projects in our neighborhood, road repaving efforts, the financial state of MSCA, and social activities.

Feb 2019 – On the north side, WSSC is working on water main installation and when the weather warms up, they will be reinstalling above-ground bypass pipes and will then install permanent household connections to the new water main.  WSSC says to expect the construction to last well into 2019.  WSSC will then repave the streets after the work is done.  At the next annual meeting, we plan to form a group to lobby the County to repave all the streets on the North Side, not just those where work is being done.  If this issue is important to you, please come to the meeting—we will need your help.  In two years, WSSC also plans to replace the main waterlines on the south side and dig up some of the streets that were just repaved (e.g., a significant portion of Devilwood and Jubal Early).  WSSC will also be replacing a pipe runs under Montrose Road.  MSCA will do its best to make sure that those streets are restored back to the condition they were in.  See project map

Look for Santa in 
Potomac Woods & Montgomery Square on Saturday 12/8

Come out to greet St. Nick’s arrival as he makes his neighborhood rounds. At a series of stops throughout the community, he greets children young and old while passing out treats and holiday cheer. New, unwrapped toys are being collected for the Stepping Stones Shelter 

Santa Stops – approximate times 
1:00 p.m. Stratton Drive and Kimblewick
1:10 p.m. Stratton and Selworthy
1:20 Kersey Lane and Milboro
1:30 Circle near 42 Orchard Way North
1:40 Circle near 23 Orchard Way South
1:50 Milboro and Lancashire
2:00 Canterbury and Dunster
2:10 Dunster and Derbyshire
2:20 Aqueduct and Stratton
2:30 Devilwood Drive/Smoketree

Montgomery Square Citizens Association

Board Meeting, 10/30/18

Attended by:  Bob Gross, President, Steve Schuck, Vice President, Jane Acri, Secretary

The meeting as advertised on the MSCA website and in e-announcements was called to order by Bob Gross at 8:00 pm at Jane’s house.  The following topics were discussed.

Real estate development projects:  There are four nearby development projects with the potential to affect the Montgomery Square community.  The first is the development of Cabin John Center.  Bob Gross provided comments on behalf of the community, with a main concern regarding increased traffic.  Residents who attended a meeting earlier in the year and signed up have received a copy of the plans, which include elimination of the gas station, many parking spaces, and the addition of new buildings and townhomes.  Regardless of the impact on the community and our use of the Cabin John Center, it appears that the Montgomery County planning commission intends to move forward.  The second project, Park Potomac, plans to add more buildings in the near future, and the third, where Lifetime Fitness center is located, will eliminate the gym in favor of additional retail and housing.  Lifetime will instead become part of another development project planned for Montgomery Mall that also includes additional retail and housing.

Speeding on Postoak:   MSCA has received several complaints from residents regarding drivers on Postoak exceeding the speed limit of 25 mph.  This occurs in both directions and creates a hazard for pedestrians.  We are looking into options to reduce this hazard such as speed humps and other “traffic calming” devices.

Block Party:  The party was a huge success despite the unusually windy weather.  About 175 to 200 residents attended the event, which included a DJ, games, a sports station, pizza, beer, soda and other drinks.  Options for next year include another block party on the south side and an ice cream social or some other event on the north side.  If someone steps up to become MSCA’s social chair, then even more activities would be possible. 

Yard Sale:  This was intended to be a large, multi-neighborhood event including Montgomery Square, Potomac Woods, and Regency, but was unfortunately rained out.  The three groups split the cost of an advertisement in the Washington Post and created maps to show the location of sales.  We will try again next year.

Trees:  Per our requests, made jointly with individual homeowners, the County has planted over 200 new trees in Montgomery Square.  The form for requesting trees for the coming year will be available in December.  It is our hope that additional homeowners will join in and fill the gaps that remain on our streets. 

Repaving:  Many residents on the south side had expressed dismay that the newly paved streets have been damaged by more digging.  MSCA sent numerous photos and emails to Washington Gas, which has agreed to repave the nine areas that were excavated after the most recent repaving. 

Gaslights:  The gaslights at the entrance to the community at Inspection House and Seven Locks are again illuminated, but Washington Gas has installed meters and will be billing us.  It seems that we can afford the additional expense, thanks to our dues paying members, but will reevaluate it on a yearly basis. 

Water Project:  WSSC is currently replacing watermains on the north side of the community.  In three years, WSSC plans to replace several lines on the south side.  We will be posting a map of the affected areas on the MSCA website and eventually set up a meeting with WSSC to answer questions from affected residents.

Pedestrian Cut Throughs:  A resident wanted to know if any of the subdivision plats showed paths between some of the houses located on cul-de-sacs.  We obtained the plats for our area and did not see anything in them that would indicate easements of this nature.  It is our understanding that pedestrian may not cut through other people’s yards without the permission of the homeowners. 

Succession Planning:  Bob Gross, who was previously recognized for his twenty years of leading the MSCA Board, pointed out that David Grossman has served on the Board for more than 15 hears and Steve Schuck for more than 10 years.  It is very difficult to interest people in serving on the board.   A possible solution is to dissolve Montgomery Square and instead merge with Potomac Woods on the north side, and Regency on the south side.  These are both much larger organizations, and might offer advantages, but we would lose our voice as a civic neighborhood organization.  When issues arise, like the proposal to eliminate the ride-on bus service, being able to represent the views of an organization offers more influence than speaking as individuals.  In additional, it is unlikely that Regency Estates or Potomac Woods would be as responsive to our individual needs or be interested in paying for a professional landscape company to maintain and plant seasonal flowers at our main entranceways, as MSCA has been doing for the past 18 years.  The preference is to work on a succession plan rather than dissolve MSCA or attempt to merge it with other associations.  With more community participation, MSCA should be able to continue well into the future and also thrive while doing it. 

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Jane Acri, Secretary

 

Meeting will be held at the home of Jane Acri – Address is in the directory or reach out to a board member.  

8-9pm on 10/30/18

Get updates on Wash Gas and WSSC projects and more

Thanks to Vasilia, George and their group of neighborhood helpers for making possible another amazing and highly successful block party extravaganza!  This was a great party and everyone who attended (about 150-200 residents) was very pleased and happy.

Great job by all!!!

I’d like to wish all of you all a happy upcoming holiday season and wonderful times to come.

All the best and thanks again for a job well done,

Bob

Montgomery Square Citizens’ Association Inc.  Invites all of MSCA out for a block party 

Sunday October 21st, 2-4pm  At the intersection of Smoketree Rd & Devilwood Dr

Airbrush Artist, Sports Inflatable,  DJ w/dances & prizes, games & mini pumpkin decorating

Free Pizza from Siena’s, drinks & cotton candy                                                  

Feel free to invite guests

To help or if you have questions, contact MSCA organizer – Vasilia at granddesignsintl@gmail.com

This event is FREE  – Costs are covered by dues paid to MSCA

Feel free to bring folding chairs, blankets, etc.

* No Rain Date Scheduled   If weather looks questionable, check this site.