Looking back on our 50th Anniversary year

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by Mike Conroy
Since 1966, a lot has happened in Montgomery Village, most notably, the realization of the Kettler Brothers’ dream in building a “new town”—a place we call home today. In the last year, our 50th year as a community, we have also seen many changes, growth opportunities and ways to celebrate our history thus far.

In February we honored the groundbreaking of the community with a 50th Anniversary Kick-off Celebration. This fun family afternoon included a living timeline of Village communities; a visit from Washington Nationals mascot George Washington; Village trivia; a community-drawn mural; a photo booth; cake and ice cream; and declarations from elected officials regarding the significant role Montgomery Village has played in local and state history.

At the annual Art, Craft and Photography show in March, the community mural was put on display, as well as other resident submitted historical items. An exhibition category was also added to the event, and residents created special works of art that displayed their Village pride across a number of different media.

Rainy days in April brought some grey skies, but even more reason to celebrate, as Montgomery Village was named a Tree City for the 28th consecutive year by the National Arbor Day Foundation. In celebrating Arbor Day, the North Creek Nature Center was reopened to the public for the festivities. Residents had the opportunity to learn about Monarch butterflies; create waystations; take home seedling trees; and reconnect with nature.

As the temperatures warmed up and summer rolled in, the celebrations continued. A number of residents participated in the 50km Swim Challenge, pushing themselves to swim or walk 50km, using each of the MVF-owned pools at least once. The reward? A limited edition 50th Anniversary beach towel (plus bragging rights)! Also, in June, the Seniors in Action (SiA) got into the celebration spirit with a luncheon and dance. SiA members gathered for food and discussion about their time in the Village, and where they were in life 50 years ago, as well as living in the moment with some great dance moves!

The Annual Independence Day Celebration featured anniversary-themed floats in the parade, as well as reduced ride rates and increased attractions at the celebration. Later in July, local music celebrities (one of whom is a former Village resident) The Reagan Years, played a special anniversary concert at the Apple Ridge Recreation Area. Even though the temperature was hot, the music was cool, and the crowd really got into the show, recalling all their favorite 80’s tunes.

The Nature Center was opened again in September for a family event similar to those that were held at the center years ago. Reptiles Alive! gave the audience something to think about when encountering reptiles in nature, while Girls Scout Cadet Troop 4206 sent participants on a nature scavenger hunt, had them pick through owl pellets and helped them make nature-themed crafts. Families were also able to build a birdhouse to take home to enjoy more wildlife in their own backyards.

At the Great Pumpkin Race and Fall Festival, kids and adults enjoyed the addition of Squeals on Wheels Petting Zoo, as well as the 50th Anniversary Target Shoot, launching tennis balls across the courts at large logo targets. All this was of course capped off with hilarious pumpkin racing to find the 2016 Great Pumpkin Race Champion.

And finally, last week we kicked off the holiday season with the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. This last anniversary event featured caroling, music, lighting the tree, cookies and hot cocoa, a visit from Santa himself and an etched logo holiday ornament.
Along the way, we’ve given away other limited edition items bearing the 50th Anniversary logo as a keepsake memory from these events. Items included: an insulated tumbler; car/refrigerator magnets; keychains; water bottles; commemorative coins; seat cushions and stadium cups. Other special items, like the beach towel and the bird house, were part of events that involved community participation.

Perhaps the most ongoing theme of the anniversary year has been Village pride. A number of residents also pledged to display that pride in community with the new Montgomery Village logo license plate, which was also released this year by the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). After the interest process and initial release, these plates are now available for individual purchase through the MVA, either online or via application from the MVF Office, 10120 Apple Ridge Road. Thank you to the pioneers of this program, helping to show off the community all around the county!

Of course, many others contributed to the success of the 50th Anniversary over this past year. These events could not have happened without support from the MVF Board of Directors, MVF staff and the 50th Anniversary Committee. Thank you to long-time resident Dick Rabil, who helped set the tone of the year with his retro-modern 50th Anniversary Logo design, which has been used to brand this occasion. And finally, thank you to all the residents, friends and neighbors who attended the events, making each one a successful and memorable experience.

Notwithstanding all the celebrating we’ve fit into 2016, it has also been a busy year for change in the Village. Montgomery County finished the dredging work in Lake Whetstone at the end of 2015 and removed the equipment and restored the park to its original state in early 2016. Currently, they are in the process of lowering the lake to perform repairs to the outfall riser structure, as well as studying the toe drains for repair.

The Montgomery Village Master Plan was approved by the county in February, and with it, new zoning was established for Village properties. Overlay zones were used to maintain the uniqueness of the previous Town Sector Zone, but the new master plan opened up new opportunities for growth in the Village. Monument Realty is continuing work with the county on redevelopment plans for the former golf course property.

Along the lines of redevelopment, Atlantic Realty Companies, the new owner of the Village Center, held several community meetings to discuss their plans to revitalize the center. The current sketch plan, which is being reviewed at the county level, calls for the addition of residential space, including proposed apartments and townhouses; a new façade; and cutting Centerway Road through the property. At the same time, the current owner of the Professional Center is looking to market the site to a developer to bring new life across Montgomery Village Avenue. Recently, the MVF Board of Directors authorized the EVP to negotiate and execute an amendment to the restrictive covenant on the Professional Center property, allowing for more uses of the site, given the new zoning. This will allow for greater possibilities for growth on the property.

And finally, with the close of the 2016 pool season, renovation on the Apple Ridge Pool began. The old pool was removed and the site has been regraded for a new leisure-style pool to be put in. Forms are in place, plumbing is going in and concrete work should be done by the year’s end. Interior work on the bathhouse will be done in the colder months, and outdoor features will be installed in the spring. The second of MVF’s pools to be renovated and reimagined is anticipated to be open for the beginning of the 2017 pool season.

With all this taking place in 2016, it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything left to be done next year. But stay tuned, as there’s always something happening in the Village. Enjoy the last few weeks of 2016, and have a Happy Holiday Season—see you next year!