2020 State of King Farm
By Barry Jackson
The 2020 State of King Farm Citizens Assembly (Assembly) is strong. Financially, King Farm is in a solid position; there were no operational budget shortfalls and the replacement reserves continue to be funded at recommended levels. The Management Office is fully staffed and Board of Trustees have a full-service management company (Comsource) to produce monthly financial statements, collect homeowner assessments, provide additional community oversight, and deliver additional layers of oversight and security for the invoice payment process to the on-site Management Team. The Assembly has been and continues to work closely with the City on various issues and monitoring other issues such as the King Farm Farmstead or the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT). The recently reconstituted External Affairs committee will provide invaluable advice and legwork on these and other issues.
On the volunteer front, King Farm has a group of dedicated volunteers who make it possible for the community to function. We could not operate without them. King Farm is also very fortunate to have affiliated and outside organizations that provide great social opportunities for the community: King Farm Swim Team (KFST), King Farm Neighbors Village (KFNV), King Farm Community Gardens (KFCG), King Farm Community Service Group, and the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. Each organization is filled with volunteers and provides activities for just about every age. King Farm is proud to sponsor and support these organizations to actualize their various missions in the community and beyond. The Assembly hosted a volunteer appreciation dinner in December of 2019. It was a small token of appreciation for all those who take time out of their busy schedules to participate and be a voice in the community. Barry Gordon, who chaired the BOCC for many years, received the King Farmer of the Year award. Mina Holland who have volunteered on every committee over the past 15 years received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations and thank you for your commitment to King Farm!
The Assembly offered a hand when Woodley Gardens had a devastating fire that closed their pool. The Board voted to allow their swim team to use Bailey’s Commons pool to practice. This outreach was a great example of the spirit of cooperation and compassion and exemplifies the giving spirit in the King Farm.
In the past year, the Assembly has not only been busy with staffing changes in the Management Office, but it also implemented an online voting option for the annual elections, hosted a City of Rockville Mayor and Council Town Hall, launched a new and improved King Farm website, and explored and implemented virtual technology to guarantee important Assembly meetings continue to be held.
While there have been accomplishments over the past year, there are still opportunities for improvement. King Farm is over 20 years old and the community needs to pay attention to maintenance and upkeep in the common areas. The Assembly is working to address the aging infrastructure and landscaping, as well as, other deferred maintenance projects. The Assembly started pruning trees in the common areas and private roads throughout the community and commenced the removal and replacement of dying or dead trees and plant material. An alley maintenance project was approved and will be soon be underway to address cracks and other asphalt damage. This paving project will help extend the life of the asphalt and improve the overall look of the alleys.
To achieve more consistent and timely follow-ups in the annual communitywide lot inspections, the Assembly engaged the use of a 3rd party vendor. The Board received feedback about the process and is working to resolve concerns that were raised. The process revealed some long-standing gaps in maintenance standards (or lack thereof). To address the lack of guidance regarding lot maintenance, the on-site Management Team started working with the management company and the Community Architect to review and develop maintenance standards, resolutions related to visual changes, and architectural standards related to new materials. A Town Hall meeting was scheduled to provide more information about the inspections and the architectural and maintenance standards, as well as, provide residents an opportunity to speak in a more open format. Unfortunately, the meeting was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances, but there are plans to reschedule as soon as it is feasible to do so. In conjunction with the efforts to improve community maintenance, the Assembly encourages homeowners to evaluate their individual properties and determine what maintenance needs to be performed. If everyone does their part, we can keep the community looking vibrant for another 20 years.
The 2020 State of King Farm would not be complete without mentioning the Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty, both socially and economically. However, I was encouraged by the Board and Management’s decision to act early by cancelling events and activities, closing the Management Office to foot traffic, and moving the Board and committee meetings online and allowing participation virtually. Communitywide inspections have been suspended, but Management continues to conduct inspections and address resident concerns regarding alleged violations as needed. I was also encouraged by the actions of the King Farm community; they have been amazing. The community worked together to collect food, help neighbors in need (by shopping, performing phone check-ins, and making cloth masks), support local businesses and restaurants, support hospital workers by donating to businesses who help feed essential workers, and the list goes on.
King Farm will have to continually respond and adjust to new developments as we navigate this new world shaped by the pandemic. We will have to pull together as a community which will require flexibility and compromise especially in this environment that is overwrought with emotions.
I would like to thank my Board of Trustees colleagues for their dedication and service especially in these trying times – Sue Beckerman, Andrew Brammer, Nancy Paul, and Ric Ricciardi.
We should all feel good about the State of King Farm and our ability meet the challenges of 2020 and beyond.