Kentlands Downtown Working Group Provided First Update

Article by: Karen Norris, Kentlands Town Crier

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The Kentlands Downtown Working Group (KDWG) presented its first community update to a packed house Wednesday, May 24, providing background information and a status report of the downtown development plans to date, while fielding questions from the community. John Ingrassia (Chair), Glen Palman, Jodi Rapaport, and Josh Wooldridge presided as a panel, leading the presentation and facilitating the Q&A. More community updates are planned.

In attendance with many Kentlands and Lakelands residents, were Kentlands Citizen Assembly (KCA) Board members, Kentlands Community Foundation Board members, and representatives from the town architect, City of Gaithersburg, and Gaithersburg City Council.

Throughout the evening, the KDWG underscored how important it is for local residents to share their opinions on the development with the Mayor, City Council and Planning Commission, either in-person at upcoming meetings, via mail or email.

What Is the KDWG?

The KDWG is the official committee intended to represent the Kentlands, Lakelands and surrounding communities and was created by the Kentlands Citizens Assembly (KCA) Board of Trustees under our community charter. The KCA Board’s purpose in establishing the KDWG included assisting the community in developing official positions on the current development of the downtown areas, tracking activity and publicizing the news to the community, and supporting citizen involvement by assisting efforts to communicate with the City of Gaithersburg regarding the redevelopment effort.

The KDWG is comprised of ten members appointed to two-year terms, and communicates with the community through articles, websites, social media such as Facebook and Nextdoor, and through the Kentlands website and Kentlands email blasts. In that regard, KCA Board member David Hofmann reminded attendees to sign up for the Kentlands email blast system, particularly as they arranged for their annual access passes to the pool and facilities. “I actually came here tonight for my access passes,” joked Wooldridge, who was on the panel.

KDWG works with City of Gaithersburg staff and leadership, including the Mayor’s office, City Council and Planning Commission and can facilitate testimony. It acts as a liaison for the KCA Board, and engages with the Kentlands community, Lakelands, Quince Orchard Park, architectural firms such as DPZ and Michael Watkins, the Kentlands Foundation, downtown area property owners such as KIMCO, Saul and Diya, Main Street, and the media.

Downtown Status

There are many meetings and updates in progress. Glen Palman and Jodi Rapaport provided an overview of three key components in the downtown business areas: (1) Kentlands Square (Saul) by Lowe’s and Giant Food, (2) Market Square (KIMCO) between Whole Foods and the Post Office, and (3) Main Street, comprised of 66 independent owners. The City of Gaithersburg Planning Commission will hold a hearing June 6 on near-term activity in Kentlands Square and long-term plans regarding Market Square. Information on each can be found on the City of Gaithersburg website. KIMCO’s “anchor” property will be an upscale movie theater. In addition, a paseo and new facades for existing buildings will be part of the redevelopment. The Council plans a hearing July 16 on Kimco’s long-term plans.

There was no update about the Diya parcel at this time. The Kentlands Community Foundation sponsored a presentation on May 30 about the One Main Street Initiative. The Mayor and City Council will follow with a meeting on June 4 at 7:30 p.m.