Living in a new urban community in the social distancing era
Traditional neighborhood development (TND) has offered an alternative model for suburban growth starting in the late 20th Century and continuing today. Kentlands in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is one of the oldest of these developments. Like most TNDs, it has a strong sense of community—a quality that has helped during the coronavirus lockdown. Here are some comments from a recent Kentlands Homeowners’ Association survey, shared by DPZ CoDESIGN, which designed and maintains offices in the community.
“ My husband and I have lived here for 11 years, and there is no place I’d rather be during the Covid19 crisis. Our community is a wonderful mix of multiple generations. Every morning and afternoon we go for a long walk. We see families, young and old, riding bikes, skating, walking their dogs, admiring the beautiful landscape throughout the community. People have been very good about checking in on each other. Our youngest son is a server at a family run community restaurant that cares about their employees. They actually have a group chat going to keep everyone from feeling isolated. I know that our community will get through this. It may take a while, but as bad as it is, we have the Kentlands.“
“ Personally, I have always believed that living in the Kentlands is nothing but a positive thing. It's so easy to just walk next door to a store and grab any item without hesitation. This community has always made me feel spoiled—there is nothing that I cannot do within walking distance; including work, since the office where I work is also conveniently located in the Kentlands.”
“Our son, his wife and our two grandchildren, out for a walk, texted us to go to our door. We went out and stood six feet from them on our porch, with them on the sidewalk, and chatted for 15 minutes. We have done this regularly since social distancing was initiated. Our neighbors invited us to a BYO gathering on the Kentlands Green for wine, snacks, and conversation, at a six foot safe distance from each other. Many of our local restaurants offer takeout with either curbside or free delivery. Our beautiful chain of intersecting lake paths offers easy access to nature and respite from cabin fever. So many of us know and care about each other and watch out for each other. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. So far, everything we need is nearby, and we know and help and are helped by our neighbors.”
“Every day we give thanks for living in Kentlands during this horrific time. We are so blessed and grateful to be living in the perfect neighborhood where we are very fortunate to be able to work from home. Beauty and nature everywhere … We take daily walks or runs multiple times a day. Common areas, paths and alleys are fun to explore. Green spaces, creeks and lakes, are alive with plants and animals, daffodils and crocuses, rabbits and turtles. We notice more people sitting on porches and using their yards more these days. We are getting to know neighbors we haven't met before. More people are saying hi and chatting and smiling than ever before (from 6 feet or more of course). The Mansion, Clubhouse, and Arts Barn amenities are currently closed, but the large grounds around them are still beautiful and very useful for social distancing. Shopping and restaurants … it's wonderful to have everything we need right here … and at a variety of price ranges. Housing for older people … your parents can live right here … it's easy to check on them, bring food and supplies, and they can still get out for walks if able and still maintain the right distance. We are grateful to grocery/restaurant workers, healthcare workers, delivery workers, first responders, and our government for everything they are doing to keep us safe and healthy. And thank you for the wonderful design of this neighborhood!”
“This is a great opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate living in the Kentlands at this difficult time. I would never consider leaving. What has been sustaining is the ability to walk around an area with so many varying views: the lakes, the streets with varied architecture, etc. I am constantly delighted by the nooks and crannies of this area. I walk a different route each day and love the surprises I find! The people here are wonderful!”
“Last spring I moved from my townhouse to a condo. I was eager to stay within the community. I am so glad that I made this move. I cannot begin to tell you about the sense of community in my building. Shortly after I moved in I had emergency surgery on my knee due to an infection. The residents in my building were absolutely wonderful … brought in groceries … got my mail daily … took out my trash and recycling as needed … brought me food or materials to keep me busy … and many visited. We began to get to know each other. This sprit has carried on to these times of social isolation. I have a compromised immune system and have not left the building for three weeks as of this writing. Once again, the spirit of this community is being manifested. There has been an effort to bring in groceries … and a daily call from a Condo Board member to check on us to see if there is anything we need, even daily sanitizing of apartment door knobs, elevator buttons, the outside keypad, etc. I believe the spirit of the Kentlands/Lakelands communities, nurtured by the New Urbanism precepts, fosters a community spirit that is exemplified by what I have experienced here.”