Rockville surveyor Tom Maddox has watched the landscape of his hometown change dramatically since he was a boy in the 1940s.
“From the center of Rockville, you didn’t have to go three miles without encountering a working farm,” he says.
Though no one would mistake this thriving metropolitan suburb for a country town nowadays, the city actively embraces its pastoral legacy. “By policy, there’s a park within 10 minutes walking distance of every home,” says David Levy, the assistant director of planning and development services. And as new developments such as EYA’s Tower Oaks continue to arrive, “they are required to include open space,” says Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton.
Residents considering a move to Tower Oaks, can enjoy woodlands along two sides of the development that adjoin Woodmont Country Club—a world away from civilization, seemingly, though restaurants such as Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge and the Stanford Grill are just across the street.
Since Rockville became Montgomery County’s government seat in 1776 and incorporated as a city in 1801, its original country roads and taverns have yielded to highways and retail hubs, yet one thing remains the same according to Newton: Rockville’s deep sense of community and neighborly hospitality.
“It’s the people here that make this city so great,” she says. “I like to call it a small town in a big city.”
That small-town quality is guiding major new commercial endeavors, David Levy says. The city is currently in the midst of executing its Rockville Pike Neighborhood Plan, which was adopted in 2016.
“At issue is, how do we take this non-descript, suburban, auto-oriented shopping area and make it a better place to live?” he says. A model for the plan’s vision is Twinbrook Quarter, a recently approved development that includes sidewalks, bike paths, and open space surrounding 11 mixed-use business, retail and residential buildings to be built in phases over the next 30 years.
Other developments since the turn of the century have sparked new population growth —from 47,388 residents in 2000 to nearly 70,000 today. Donnell Newton attributes the influx to several factors:
- The advent of the surrounding tech and bio sector along the I-270 corridor;
- The expansion of NIH and the National Navy Medical Center;
- Three Metro stations;
- Abundant parks and city services;
- Initiatives such pedestrian-activated crossings in Rockville Town Center, the passage of a Bikeway Master Plan, and the formation of a Pedestrian Advocacy Safety Committee.
“Young families are choosing Rockville because of the all this,” Newton says.
And they stay because the city’s services—not to mention its sense of community—are so strong. “When we get snow here, we’re plowed instantly. If we get a pothole, they’re on it. Whenever we have a problem, they’re Johnny-on-the-spot,” Tom Maddox says. “Rockville is unbeatable. Everything is convenient and easy to get to, and during the holidays, they have bands and shut off the downtown arteries. You can go downtown and dance in the street.”
Interested in learning more about the Rockville story? Read the full article here.
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/rockville-maryland-a-renaissance-story/16245.
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