Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Join us for the Montgomery Square Fall Block Party   
Sunday, November 3rd, 2019  12 – 2 pm Near 11910 Devilwood Drive

DJ and Kid’s Entertainment. Free Pizza and drinks (while supplies last) Children are encouraged to dress in costume! 

To help, get more info or if the weather is questionable go to the MSCA Facebook Page Potomac Friends and Neighbors  

Info can also be found here at this site.

Funded by dues paid to the Montgomery Square Citizen’s Association

Montgomery College Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) is committed to creating a variety of intellectually stimulating opportunities for Montgomery County residents. 
The Lifelong Learning Institute offers flexibility through daytime, evening, and weekend courses at multiple Montgomery County locations. Individuals ages 60 and over pay fees only; tuition is waived.
Courses offered in: Brain Fitness, Art, Art History, Archaeology, World Cultures, History, Politics, Literature, Music, Personal Finance, Career Development, Photography, and Wellness.  A few of the over 34, new, Fall courses included: Ashkenaz: The Jews of Eastern Europe; Treasures of Washington DC Art Museums; Expanding Vocabulary-Building Memory; History of Fashion: Revolutionary Design; Russian Short Stories; The Science of Well-Being: A Six-Week Personal Wellness Journey; and Strength Training for Health and Fitness.
Get more info and get on their mailing list for the Spring Session.

Montgomery Square Citizens Association Board Meeting:  Minutes from July 25, 2019

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm on July 25, 2019 at the home of President and CEO, Bob Gross, and was attended by Steve Schuck (Vice President), David Grossman (Treasurer), Jane Acri (Secretary), and new Social Chair, Patrice Ju. 

Much of the meeting was spent informing Patrice about past social events, block parties, ice cream socials, and the many activities of the MSCA, and learning about some of her professional, personal, and civic activities.  One highlight is that she moderates a Facebook group of 7500 members who are local mothers in the Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville area, and she has many contacts, including a magazine editor (Potomac Living), who may be willing to feature a story on our successful tree planting campaign.  Her contacts, expertise, activities, and enthusiasm will clearly be assets to the association.

The issue of an increase in dues was discussed.  Reading from Article II of the MSCA Constitution, Bob said that any change in dues must be fixed on or before October 1 and approved by six members of the board.  There followed a vote of the five members present and one in absentia (Michael Leshner) to raise the dues from $50/household to $75/household.  This has also been discussed at the annual meeting on May 20, and at that time, the question was put to a vote with 25 members in favor of raising dues and two opposed.

The National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 6 was discussed, but it was concluded that there is not enough time to organize anything. 

The Block Party is usually held in October, and the two dates discussed that would avoid both religious and secular holidays were October 6 and October 27.  Patrice agreed to meet with Vasilia Contos who has extensive experience in planning and organizing the MSCA block parties to select a date and begin planning.  Patrice had several creative ideas on how to increase participation through promoting the block party and including some additional features, including the establishment of a MSCA Facebook group.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 pm.  Follow up action items were:

1. Patrice will connect with Vasilia to begin planning the October block party

2. Patrice will create and moderate a public Facebook group for MSCA

3. Patrice will contact Potomac Living magazine to assess their interest publishing a piece about the tree planting program that MSCA participates in

4.  Dues invoices to be prepared and sent in December will be for $75.00/household

5.  MSCA volunteers will publish more information about the expenses that the dues cover

On 8/14/19, MSCA residents Peter Lalos and Steve Schuck met with Brian Earp from the Department of Permitting Services to get his thoughts on the WSSC project work. While the project is a WSSC project, the County permitting office has some oversight role.

(1) Paving information for WSSC project areas: Brian guaranteed that all roads affected by the WSSC pipeline work would be paved curb to curb.

Before new paving occurs, WSSC will replace curbs and driveway aprons that they damaged. In addition, MSCA has asked the Division of Highway Services to repair broken and damaged curbs in the impacted streets.

(2) WSSC Paving of Non-Project Areas: Brian said there was no chance that WSSC paving contractors would pave the the rest of Montgomery Square North. He did say that after WSSC contractors do their paving project, we might have luck getting the county to do curb and pavement work to the non-project area once they see the scope of the job. MSCA will be in contact with the Division of Highway Services.

(3) Completion Date for WSSC Work: In Montgomery Square, WSSC has yet to do the remainder of Old Canal Road and Old Canal Ct. For the entire project, WSSC representatives have given various estimated completion dates, some as far out as summer 2020. Brian said that the road crews should finish the remaining pipeline replacement work by end of fall so that they have a decent stoppage point for the cold weather. If that timeline holds, then all paving work would be contracted out over the winter and the final phase of laying new blacktop would start in the spring 2020.


From the Montgomery County Police Department

THE BURGLARY BASICS:

Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.

Burglaries do happen in the daylight hours. 

Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed.  Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors. Deadbolts are good for outside doors.  Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.  Keep your garage door closed and locked, even when home. If your  garage is an attached garage – lock the door into the house.  Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away.  Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.  Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time. 

Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.

Sliding glass doors are vulnerable.  Special locks are available for better security. Even a wooden dowel or a track blocker will help prevent the door from opening.

DON’T TEMPT A THIEF:

Lawn mowers, snow blowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight.  Always lock your sheds and garages.  Use curtains on garage and basement windows.

LOCKS……GET THE BEST:

Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.

When moving into a new home, have all locks changed.

SECURING THE OUTSIDE:

Adequate exterior lighting for front, side, driveway and backyards.  Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.  Use alarm decals, beware of dog decals, and/or community watch decals near doors.

WINDOWS:

Most windows can be pinned for security. Drill a 3/16″ hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame – place a nail in the hole to secure the window.  Cover windows with blinds or curtains.  Always lock the windows, even the small bathroom window that you think nobody could possibly fit through.

ALARMS AND DOGS:

An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners.

Get a dog, not only are they scary, but they draw attention by barking.

INSIDE THE RESIDENCE:

Find GOOD hiding places in your home for high-ticket items, especially jewelry and credit cards.  Secure guns in safes that are bolted to the floor or large enough that someone could not move without a lot of help.  Limit the amount of cash kept in the home, and store it in a creative hiding place.  You don’t have to answer your door, you can talk through the door and you can install a peep hole.

CARS:

Lock your vehicles.

OTHER PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE:

Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places.  Burglars know where to look for hidden keys.

Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home — this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters.

Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques.  Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.  Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce cover for burglars.

Be a good neighbor.  If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 911 immediately.

Mark your valuables with your driver’s license number with an engraver you can borrow from Police Department.

Form a Neighborhood Watch Group.  Police can work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary.  Neighbors can help organize and collect emails to keep neighbors informed and communicating.

GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS:

Agree to watch out for each other’s home. While on vacation – pick up newspapers, and flyers.  Offer to occasionally park your car in their driveway.  Return the favor and communicate often

The MOST important thing YOU can do is CALL THE POLICE to report a CRIME or any SUSPICIOUS activity.

You have to be the eyes of your neighborhood. And remember you can always remain a pair of anonymous eyes!

Suspicious Activity = door-to-door solicitation, strange vehicles in area, people asking for work, anyone with stories that don’t add-up, and anyone carrying items from someone’s home, or carrying back-packs, bags in the area.

Help Us to Help You! CALL Police immediately!

*911 Emergency

*301-279-8000 Non-Emergency

*240-773-6443 to schedule a FREE Home Security Check of your home

Montgomery Square continues to nurture the successful partnership with the county that has resulted in over 200 trees planted in the neighborhood.

Tree Care – When mulching your trees and shrubs think “Donut”, not “Volcano”. You can maximize growth of new trees by having a mulched area under the trees rather than grass. Proper mulching of our trees is beneficial to the trees, because the mulch reduces competition for nutrients and moisture and it adds protection from lawn maintenance equipment while creating an aesthetically pleasing landscape. However, excessive mulching of trees is detrimental to the health of the tree and is a waste of money and resources.

Sprouts originating from the roots/lower trunk of the tree should be pruned as they appear for the health of the tree.

As for watering, during the growing season, apply 4-5 gallons of water twice per week, for the first two years after planting. If there is a significant rain event, a watering can be skipped.

If you have not requested trees but would like to do so, please fill out the Tree Form and send it to Bob Gross rjgross@comcast.net or Michael Simon treusim@aol.com

Information provided by Jack Pond, ISA Certified Arborist, DOT, Highway Services Tree Maintenance Section and
Bob Gross – MSCA President

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