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From the desk of the EVP: A look back at April growth in Montgomery Village

Mike-Conroy-webSMALL

The spring season is synonymous with growth, change and rebirth. As soon as the weather starts to change and the flowers and trees start to bloom, we are reminded of the newness of the year and the changes to come. In thinking about that change over time, and the growth of the Village, I thought it would be interesting to look back at some important changes in Village history that happened in the month of April.

Starting back in the era of acquisition of land that would eventually become the planned community, the Kettler Brothers purchased three pieces of property in April 1964 – Fulks Farm (south), Thomas Farm, and Eugene Mills’ Farm. These three farms, totaling more than 700 acres, make up a major portion of the center of Montgomery Village, spanning from Wightman Road to well below Stewartown Road, bordered on the east by Goshen Road.

The south portion of the Fulks Farm encompasses parts of Northgate, Patton Ridge and Bloom Village, as well as where North Creek Community Center and the Rothbury Apartments and Goshen Plaza now sit. The Thomas Farm lies to the south of Stewartown Road, and Whetstone, Maryland Place, Thomas Choice and part of Bloom Village now occupy this land. The Mills Farm is now the remaining parts of Bloom Village, Mills Choice and the Village Center, Center Stage, Center Court and Club Hill.

In April 1966, two more additions were made to the Village – nearly another 50 acres – just north of Apple Ridge Road, in what would become parts of Shadow Oak. And in April 1983, the 150-acre Mobley Farm was sold to the Kettler Brothers; this large tract of land sits to the east of Snouffer School Road, and makes up roughly half of the area along East Village Avenue. This was one of the last few parcels of land purchased, rounding out the total Montgomery Village expanse to just more than 2,500 acres.

April 1971 saw the entrance to Montgomery Village at MD Route 355 and Montgomery Village Avenue redesigned to allow for better traffic flow and entrance for the Holiday Inn, which would open shortly thereafter. You may recognize this area now as the front corner of the former Lakeforest Mall, and the “Montgomery Village Ahead” sign.

The iconic “red barn” that once stood on Eugene Mills farm, and where the Village Center now sits was razed in April 1972. Two new ballfields were constructed in April 1976 in North Village at what would eventually be named William Hurley Park. Construction of the stormwater facility near The Points was completed in April 1977. Along with that completion, a naming contest was held for what would become “North Creek Lake.” Original plans called for bridges to the island and a fitness trail around the lake itself.

In April 1979, after a two-year pause in the project, Montgomery County resumed work to widen Montgomery Village Avenue at the southern end of the Village, around the Lost Knife Road area. This project was in response to the City of Gaithersburg widening a portion of the road up to MD Route 355 around the same time. April 1981 saw the beginning of construction of the MVF Office on Apple Ridge Road, as well as talks about the purchase of the first “in-house computer system” for MVF staff. A year later, a “computer study” outlining the specifications of a computer system would be approved by the MVF Board.

Between April 1984 and 1985 there were many conversations and meetings on the county-level about adding a new high school in the area. Debate about the issue brought about ideas for two new schools, one along Route 124 (Quince Orchard High School) and another off Apple Ridge Road (Watkins Mill High School). Eventually both schools were built and today, the majority of Village residents attend Watkins Mill High School, with some still attending Gaithersburg High School.

In April 1989, the MVF Office was expanded and the new areas were opened to handle increased resident interactions. The county Planning Board also approved Kettler Brothers’ application to add the Apple Ridge subdivision to Northgate, amid opposition to removing some recreational space. Two years later, in April 1991, the traffic light at Apple Ridge Road and Montgomery Village Avenue was installed and made operational.

After two years of planning and input, the county approved the addition of a new park along East Village Avenue, in what would eventually be named Edward DeSimon Recreation Area. Also in April 1992, the Patsy Huson Ballfield was opened and dedicated to the first MVSA Softball Commissioner and long-time MVF employee and Executive Vice President.

To help promote and market the Village in the 1990s, April 1994 brought about the resident-suggested slogan “The Best Hometown in Maryland.” A few years later in 1997, residents were asked to return a survey to the Post Office advocating for Montgomery Village to be awarded its own zip code – we know how that vote turned out! April 1998 saw more discussion around adding another retail center, Goshen Oaks Center, near the intersection of Goshen and Snouffer School roads. And talk about actual “growth,” April 1998 also marked the Village’s 10th consecutive Tree City USA award, one we are proud to receive each year for our commitment to the environment.

April 2004 brought about discussion of development on the golf course, a topic that was up and down for the next 20 years – fast-forward to today, when there is no more golf course, but the land has made way for our newest residents of Bloom Village. Speaking of development, April 2004 was also the groundbreaking for the Rothbury Apartments (originally Gables Rothbury) on Rothbury Drive. Incidentally, this would be the last development in the Village until the recent introduction of Bloom Village.

In 2011, MVF began to focus on the future of the community with the Vision 2030 Committee. The first of several community charrettes to define revitalization ideas for key areas began in April of that year. Today, the outcomes of the work performed by this committee and resident input can be seen at the Village Center, Lidl and Bloom Village, as well as the formation of the Montgomery Village Master Plan. At the same time, a pool study was implemented to visualize how and when MVF-owned pools could be reimagined and rebuilt in a timely, yet fiscally responsible manner. Today, three pools have been renovated, and MVF is embarking on the fourth renovation, Stedwick Pool. The following year, in April 2012, a state bond was awarded to MVF to build a concession stand and restroom facility at South Valley Park.

2016 marked Montgomery Village’s 50th Anniversary, and the entire year was dedicated to events celebrating our history. Specifically in April, there were nature-themed events for Arbor Day, Earth Day, and the Village’s long-running tradition of being named a Tree City USA.

In April 2017, the current owners of the Village Center, Atlantic Realty Companies, shared plans for their renovation of the center. This project has seen a few phases since then and continues with updates and enhancements for the Village.

Throughout Village history, there have been many significant growth periods and markers, many of which have not been named above. But you can see, spring and April in particular, has been a busy month for the last 57 years. As we continue to look forward, cheers to April being the start of our continual season of growth.

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