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State of the Kentlands

We have made great progress but challenges remain

While the idea of a “State of the Kentlands” report may seem a bit pretentious, § 2-106 of our bylaws calls for “a presentation of the State of the Community report by the President” at the Kentlands Citizens Assembly’s (KCA) Annual Meeting. My approach of covering our physical plant, governance, social functions, finances and polity a year ago seemed to work well, and so it is the model for this year’s report.

Physical plant. Our broad efforts to improve the Kentlands physical plant’s condition continue to show excellent results.

The biggest challenge, the Quince Orchard Retaining Wall, is finished. The final touches to the landscaping were completed this spring. The last “punch list” items were closed out during the summer. We can now move on.

Around the Clubhouse we replaced the old, and much deteriorated, pool furniture this year and are in the process of replacing the failing underwater lights with modern LED fixtures and bulbs for safety, reliability and cost efficiency.

A few months ago we replaced the old and fraying carpeting in the Carriage House with vinyl laminate flooring. Next up are the windows and doors that have deteriorated rather badly over the years. The lack of proper sealing is a major contributor to the cold drafts users feel in the winter, so this maintenance should make users much more comfortable.

We are also addressing a variety of other physical plant issues. Long-standing safety issues at the Kent Oaks Mews connection between Lake Street and Kent Oaks Way and the various pedestrian crossings at Kentlands Boulevard are being actively addressed by the KCA (Kent Oaks Mews) and City of Gaithersburg (Kentlands Boulevard). The engineering is complete for the final two phases of our mews rehabilitation, including some drainage improvements, and we are reviewing the bids submitted for the work. Planning is underway to address the remaining storm sewer issues along Ridgepoint Place.

Governance. Many thanks to Chris Campbell and Ty Hardaway for their service on the Board of Trustees. Both of them have, however, decided not to seek another term on the Board as their terms expire this fall and are handing their responsibilities off to “the next generation.”

The good news is four well-qualified candidates offered themselves for the three Board positions that are open in 2017. My sincere “good luck” wishes to Greg Cohen, Yamil Hernandez, Karen Norris, and Aysa Smith. Greg is a Board incumbent running for re-election, Yamil and Aysa are both members of the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee (BFAC) and Karen has been active on our Communications Committee and is a regular contributor to the Crier.

The improvements made in our committee structure, management, and membership is another success story for 2017.

Our governance committees, i.e., the Kentlands Historical Trust (KHT) and Board of Code Compliance (BoCC), continue their outstanding work. It is their effort that protects the “look and feel” that gives Kentlands much of its cachet; sometimes that is very important, indeed. It is that importance that led the BFAC to grant the BoCC’s request for funding for a third-party community inspection, included in our 2018 annual budget.

Eleven other committees and working groups, including our newly formed Kentlands Downtown Working Group, do the “heavy lifting” of keeping Kentlands running on all cylinders. Many, many thanks to our dozens of volunteers who prepare budgets, manage our landscaping, plan our activities and do so much more.

Yet there is always much more to do. All of our committees and working groups need more help. If you are interested in serving, please contact me! Our committees and working groups are also a wonderful introduction to Kentlands governance for those interested in running for the Board or for President in 2018.

Social functions. Thanks to the work done by the Activities Committee, our professional staff, and other groups in our community, we have too many wonderful events for a complete list: Happy Hours; Summerfest; movies on the lawn; and the July 4th parade and celebration are on the KCA side of the ledger. The Kentlands Under the Lights and 5K Race, both success stories again this year, are courtesy of the Kentlands Community Foundation. Neighborhood organizations such as the Kentlands Kingfish Swim Team are an integral part of our social life and serve to enrich both the participants and the volunteers who make things happen. The City of Gaithersburg provides us with, among so many other things, Oktoberfest.

Finances. Kudos to our Budget and Finance Advisory Committee for a producing multi-year budget strategy that combines stable assessments, an early payoff of the bank loans that helped us accelerate the work on the wall, and steady contributions to our reserve funds as they recover from the extraordinary needs of 2015 and 2016.

Kentlands’ finances are strong.

Polity. Three years ago, our out-going President spoke about citizen apathy. We have made a great deal of progress as evidenced by our first competitive election since 2013, the strong citizen turnout at some Board meetings, and robust response to the creation of the Kentlands Downtown Working Group.

On the other hand, the tone of our discourse seems harsher than in recent years. Yes, contentious issues can result in passionate responses, but incivility is rarely a formula for persuasion. This is especially true when dealing with our professional staff because they are merely the messenger. The KHT and BoCC enforce our rules, the Board of Trustees approves the budgets that pay for the services the KCA provides, and the President is charged with implementing those decisions through the professional staff. It is through the elected and appointed leadership — rather than through appeals to, or demands of, the staff — that changes can be made.

The best way to make changes is to work for them by becoming part of the leadership. We want you to volunteer for a committee or run for office!

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