2020 – A year in review

by Mike Conroy

Wow – what a year; certainly one like no other! While there are a lot of words that could be used to describe 2020—unprecedented, virtual, Zoom, socially distant, telework, COVID, mask/face covering, change, etc.—the one I would choose for Montgomery Village would be adaptation. During the last nine months, there has been no shortage of change and adaptation to about every process we have become accustomed to. And while it was a challenge for the Montgomery Village Foundation (MVF) Board of Directors and staff to make those changes and move forward, Village residents adapted to the changes with ease and understanding. Thanks for your positive attitude among a lot of uncertainty.

So what happened, and how did we adapt? Near the end of March, the MVF Office was closed per the Governor’s Executive Order. In the past, the office may have closed for a day or two for weather events, but no one expected three months of closure and many more months of adaptation. Business operations began to shift; about half the MVF staff worked remotely, keeping key functions available to residents, while other staff were furloughed.

At first, everything was curtailed—no playgrounds, no sports, no gatherings/groups over 10 people—and everyone adapted by wearing masks and remaining 6-feet apart. There was a sudden shift to purchase as many supplies as possible, including food, online. And for those who ventured to stores, there was the ever-present feeling of shopping cautiously and sharing the unsaid, confused look of “are we doing the right thing, the smart thing, by being here?” with other shoppers.

Many folks turned to Zoom and other online platforms to maintain social interactions, and for a society that generally thrives on technology, we all suddenly missed that daily, in-person part of the world. We sat idly by, watching and listening to elected officials and employers try to navigate the murkiest of waters and provide clear guidelines to “return to normal” or to what our “new normal” would be. Our children and teachers were thrown into a new world of virtual learning while we all adapted to the ever-changing protocols and safety measures.

After a few months, we adapted again when restrictions began to loosen. While MVF was still not able to hold large gatherings and events like the annual July 4th Parade and Celebration, we were able to make a shift to limited capacity outdoor classes and programs, reduced summer camps and of course, pool openings, with plenty of changes. The Activity Card process, check-in at the pool, capacity restrictions, personnel training and procedures and pool usage rules were all handled differently. But again, Village residents adapted to those changes for a different summer experience, but one with as much “normalcy” as possible. In addition, when the MVF office reopened, physical changes were implemented to make both visitors and staff safer, including requiring masks, limiting the number of people in the lobby at any one time, plexiglass dividers and for 2021, a new cashless assessment payment policy.

Now with the colder weather, some classes and programs—with further reduced capacity—have moved indoors or back online. People are still required to wear masks and socially distance, though we’ve become more accustomed to the practice. What hasn’t changed is that change is ever-present, and that we will adapt. MVF will continue to adapt to maintain amenities and services in every capacity we can. Our residents have proven time and time again that they will adapt to those changes (and changes in the county, state and country) without complaint.

Despite all the uncertainty, adaptation and virtual meetings, there have been a number of positive changes to come about in the Village this year as well. Beginning with the three development projects in the community, all of them have made much-anticipated significant progress.

Atlantic Realty Companies (ARC) continued the renovation of the Village Center, completely changing the façade and bringing new life to the exterior of the center. Only a few weeks ago the new anchor grocery store, Aldi, opened its doors (to a line of folks waiting at 7 a.m.) and is a new, fresh store for residents to purchase groceries from. ARC also held a community meeting for Phase 1B of the site, noting their current plans for the residential portion of the site, including a large greenspace for gathering and events (when safe to do so of course!). Centerway Road will begin to be extended through the rear of the site, and ARC has confirmed that a Starbucks will be built on a new pad site in the front parking lot.

Across the street at the former Professional Center site, Lidl began demolition of the buildings to make way for their new grocery store. Just think, soon grocery choices will have doubled in the Village, and residents won’t have to go more than across the street for competitive pricing!

Of course, the most awaited development project in the Village has been Monument Realty’s vision for the former golf course property, which also saw progress this year. Ryan Homes was identified as the home builder and has been working with MVF staff on architectural features, criteria and elevations. Infrastructure work has begun in Areas 4 and 5 to lay the groundwork for the first phase of home sites. Model homes will soon be started and before you know it, new residents will start to move into Montgomery Village.

In terms of MVF projects, two of the four North Creek Tennis Courts were upgraded to new sports courts. Now, in addition to tennis at North Creek, residents can play pickleball on three dedicated courts, as well as futsal/soccer on the boarded court. These updates further extend the amenity offerings and have been used daily since being opened.

Additionally, the pool renovation at North Creek Community Center has begun. Crews are currently performing the demolition and it won’t be long before the new pool starts to take shape. Changes to the bathhouse and community center will round out this project, which will hopefully be complete in time for whatever a 2021 pool season looks like—however it plays out, we will adapt! In other pool news, the Watkins Mill Pool was approved to be decommissioned and the site repurposed as an outdoor fitness area. New outdoor exercise equipment will be surrounded by a short sprint track, and the play equipment will be moved to the front of the site. Look for this exciting new amenity to come online in 2021 also.

In whatever form change has presented itself in 2020, and however it will continue in 2021, we will continue to adapt, as a community. We thank you for your patience and adaptation over the last 9 months, and appreciate your support and ability to adapt to whatever the future holds. While we can’t say we will miss 2020, we are certainly looking forward to the changes ahead in 2021. Enjoy the holiday season, and we will see you in the new year!

Business Directory

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Ledo Pizza & Pasta
19200 Montgomery Village Avenue
Montgomery Village Animal Hospital
19222 Montgomery Village Avenue, Montgomery Village, MD 20886
Hillmuth Auto Care
19300 Woodfield Road, Gaithersburg