The neighborhood of Cinnamon Woods in Germantown has been working very hard to change its image, it had gotten a bad reputation and been tagged with unflattering nickname. This week, leaders in that community were honored for their work to change, not only the perception of the community but, its aesthetic qualities.
On Monday, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett joined the Germantown Park Homeowners Association, formerly called Cinnamon Woods, to recognize and celebrate its role as a strong, active partner in an award-winning public/private collaboration with the County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs through the department’s Focused Neighborhood Assistance program.
“This unique program has helped to transform the community image, improve energy efficiency, engage community youth and improve community safety,” said Leggett. “Germantown Park was a strong partner with the County, and this project would not have been possible without the HOA support.”
Steve Traylor, treasurer and board member of Germantown Park HOA, told community leaders and residents at the event, “We had a reputation in this neighborhood and we wanted to rebrand our neighborhood to Germantown Park which is what appeared on our tax bills. We started this work in early 2002, it really took off in 2007 and we started the actual work in 2009. We worked with Montgomery County for four years. It was through working with Montgomery County and people at the County level that made this project a success.”
Leggett and Councilmember Craig Rice, who represents Germantown, presented a certificate of honor to the President of Germantown Park Board of Directors Leighton Meek.
Begun in 2009, the Focused Neighborhood Assistance Program comprehensively addressed community needs as identified by residents and other stakeholders in geographically-defined “Focus Areas.” Germantown Park is the first Upcounty Focus Area. DHCA provides assistance directly to address housing needs, provide services such as concentrated housing code enforcement or enhance other community services through collaboration with public and private partners.
Germantown Park was selected for targeted reinvestment and was the first Upcounty neighborhood to benefit from the Focused Neighborhood Assistance program. The community of 684 attached quadraplex homes was negatively impacted by the economic downturn, which seriously challenged the HOA’s and residents’ abilities to maintain their community. Germantown Park was built during the late 1970s, and many of the homes still had their original exterior, which is a high- maintenance material requiring frequent painting.
Through its Focused Neighborhood Assistance program, DHCA established a partnership with the HOA in which the Division of Community Development extended DHCA’s Exterior Home Improvement Program to homeowners in the community who were eligible for Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant funds.
Many residences still had the original home exterior comprised of T-1-11 wood, which is a high maintenance material which requires a frequent painting schedule, according to the DHCA website. The community’s original color scheme included rustic hues of brown, gold or burgundy. The colors and wood materials were designed to complement the heavily wooded park environment. However, these exteriors had become worn in appearance and in disrepair over the years. Another aspect of the original community was wooden fences and sheds which added to run-down look the community had taken on. The HOA with the help of DCHA and the Focused Neighborhood Assistance Program began to repair or replace the rotted wood fences and sheds.
“Too many people, when they hear Germantown or Clarksburg, assume everything is shiny and new,” Councilmember Rice said. “They don’t think about the homes and established neighborhoods and residences that have been here for quite a long time that still need attention and may need to be refurbished. This program is so important because it brings those homes up to standard and creates a level of equity that we don’t always see in our communities.”
The leaders of the Germantown Park HOA, as part of the Upcounty Focused Neighborhood Assistance program, identified four projects that would greatly benefit the community.
The program included painting of exterior home trim, installation of vinyl siding, replacement of rotted wood elements with low-maintenance cladding and the repair or replacement of rotted wood fences and sheds.
The Exterior Home Improvement Project provided exterior home improvements for 121 CDBG-eligible homes that contributed to the visual transformation of the community, which was paid for with HUD Community Development Block Grant funds.
The other three other projects were funded with a combination of CDBG funds, State of Maryland funds and Housing Initiative Program funds.
The Public Space Lighting Improvement Project replaced 70-watt low-functioning sodium pressure street lights with energy efficient LED luminaries and one new electrical service unit. While, the Green Club and After School programs operated by the Montgomery Housing Partnership provided enrichment opportunities for neighborhood youth; and finally, the Replacement Reserve Study provided a tool for future sustainability.
The Germantown Park HOA provided staff support and financial investment. Over the four-year period, the HOA invested $679,842 through their Paint and Home Repair program which complemented the Exterior Home Improvement Project. The HOA also applied for the State of Maryland Consolidated Capital Bond which contributed to the Public Space Lighting Improvement Project.
Last year, the project was awarded The 2014 Agency Award for Excellence from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials and the 2014 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties.
Top: County Executive Ike Leggett and Councilmember Craig Rice present a certificate of honor to the President of Germantown Park HOA Board of Directors Leighton Meek.
Next: Before and After. Photos show the example of the work done to residences in the recently rebranded Germantown Park neighborhood as part of the Focused Neighborhood Assistance program. Photos provided by Germantown Park HOA.
Next: County Executive Ike Leggett speaking at award presentation held in the Germantown Park
Other Photos by Germantown Pulse.