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Germantown is Still Left in the Cold, and It's Getting Colder

It has been two years since the Germantown Pulse first suggested that it might be nice for a town of 100,000 people to have some sort of civic event to celebrate the holiday season.

Two years ago the Pulse wrote, “As millions watched the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC or the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center in New York, millions more waited to bring their little ones to stand in the December chill at their local tree lighting, which signals the official start to the holiday season at the local level.

However, the almost 100,000 folks that populate Germantown will not be among them. If Germantown residents want to go out and enjoy seasonal merriment at a local celebration of the ‘most wonderful time of the year,' they would be standing alone in the cold. There is no civic celebration of the holidays in Germantown.”

And Germantown residents are still standing alone in the cold. Nothing has changed, in fact, it seems to have gotten colder in Germantown.

Once again the largest population center in Montgomery County has nothing scheduled. Residents wishing to participate in a civic pride event must go to somebody else’s town and enjoy their fellowship, pride, and joy. Of course, some churches and other organizations are holding some events, but there is nothing that the entire town can rally behind.

Two years ago, Germantown Center Park opened, and Montgomery leaders came to Germantown to herald it as a place where residents could gather and enjoy the outdoors. There was a band playing on a stage at the grand opening, and it was a-rockin' good time.

“This park is unique in its location, design and the role it will serve this community,” said Michael F. Riley, Director of Montgomery Parks. “Situated adjacent to the library, arts center and a variety of businesses, Germantown Town Center Urban Park plays a critical role in this community – the third most populous in Maryland. It is an open space for people to gather to get to know each other and enjoy time spent outdoors.”

The grand opening was the last event held in that park. Why did the County spend millions of dollars so that park could go unused as a venue to hold civic events? It is beautiful. It is perfect. It is unused.

Imagine, if you will, an alternate reality where our town has leaders, where people have pride in Germantown. Imagine what could be done with that park at holiday time.

Imagine a park filled with families huddled around lighted holiday decorations installed along the walkways. Imagine those families enjoying the decorations and the holiday music from strolling carolers, and a beautiful Christmas Tree in one of the rounded patios or near the steel pergola. Maybe Santa could arrive on the back of a fire truck from Germantown Volunteer Fire Department with a police escort roaring through the Town Center. And Santa could light the holiday tree. It could be wonderful.

But, what has happened in that park in two years? Nothing. Not one event has been held in that park. Not one. Zero.

Why not plan a holiday choral night at Germantown Center Park? The Seneca Valley High School Choral singers are wonderful. The Northwest Band is one of the best in the state. Why not invite them to perform for their community at the park? The choral groups could perform at one end of the park, and the marching band could perform at the other end, or the Seneca Valley jazz band at another portion.

BlackRock Center for the Arts is right there next to the park, while not plan something in conjunction with the arts center? Speaking of BlackRock, there is beautiful front lawn which could house a big beautiful Christmas Tree right on Century Boulevard. The restaurants on Century Boulevard would be packed; the street could be closed to traffic, as residents and holiday revelers gathered together in fellowship to celebrate the season. Local craftsman and artisans could be brought in to sell their wares; local PTAs could have tables to sell baked goods or crafts to raise money for their organizations, various churches could bring their choirs to perform at different locations on Century Boulevard to the enjoyment of hundreds of local families. It could be the greatest night of the year in Germantown. Heck, it could be two nights. People from all over the County would come to partake.

But alas, the reality is that the park, which was to play “a critical role in this community” remains dark and virtually unused and Century Boulevard is all but deserted after dark. Happy Holidays, Germantown!!!

To be fair, there is one holiday event coming up in Germantown. Montgomery County Recreation will host a Winter Wonderland on ICE at the Plum Gar Community Center next Friday, Dec. 15, from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. “Experience the adventures of skating on ice without Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Enjoy karaoke, baking fun, and light refreshments.” The event is free but it is limited in scope, to attend you must register and there are only a certain number of folks who can perform. Anyone who might be interested can register at ActiveMontgomery.com.

The Winter Wonderland on ICE sounds like a wonderful event, but if you have to register and space is limited, it is not exactly open to the entire community.

There are 18 other holiday parties or events at various community and senior centers throughout Montgomery County, but just that one event in Germantown. There is nothing for seniors in Germantown. Are there no seniors in Germantown? Of course, there are, but sadly there is no senior center. Happy Holidays, Germantown seniors!!!

Perhaps the reason there are no civic events is there is no civic leadership. As the Pulse wrote two years ago, “Residents are left to wonder, who do we talk to about getting some sort of Germantown civic event to mark the holidays? There is no mayor, no town council, no selectman, or ombudsman, no alderman, no town commissioner — no leader in Germantown.

Two years ago, Germantown Pulse asked if the County Council could find a few thousand dollars to give to a civic holiday event for the betterment of the largest population center in the county. Clearly, that was too much to ask, and based on the fact that the County is facing a $120 million budget shortfall — that probably isn’t going to happen soon. However, it was very important to spend County funds and man-hours researching legislation that would ban performing circus animals in the County.

In the coming months, the primary elections for four soon-to-be vacant at-large County Council seats will begin to heat up. There are over 25 people from all over the County —from the same political party running for the four seats. A number of those people live in Germantown. The Germantown Pulse urges residents to seek out candidates from the Germantown area, and vote for those candidates.

We are also voting for a District 2 representative, the seat currently held by Craig Rice; he is not running unopposed in the primary. However, his Democratic challenger is not from Germantown. Maybe, it’s time for a change in local representation. Maybe it’s time for different ideas and different viewpoints.

It is high time that the largest population center in the County starts to elect more officials that might be more sympathetic to the needs of the Germantown area. It’s time Germantown’s 100,000 plus residents start to organize as a voting bloc.

However, that requires Germantown residents to care about their community, and after two years, there hasn’t been much positive action to improve the community, so maybe it is a lost cause. The Germantown Pulse has been documenting the downward slide of Germantown over the past two years, from the groups of youths wilding in Town Center, to the muggings in broad daylight, and beatings to steal belts and sneakers. Maybe, Germantown doesn’t deserve the County’s attention.

As long as there is no elected leadership in Germantown, looking out for Germantown and only Germantown, it will continue to become the County’s dumping ground. In 2015, the Pulse’s editorial said, “Maybe it is time that Germantown starts thinking about becoming a town instead of a collection of neighbors that live close to each other, but celebrate with people who live elsewhere.”

That time is now.

On its face, this editorial is about holiday celebrations— or lack thereof. But it is really about civic pride — or lack thereof.

Sadly, our community has none. Case in point, the Northwest High School volleyball team won its third-straight Maryland State Championship three weeks ago. This momentous event would have gone unnoticed if not for Germantown Pulse’s admittedly weak coverage. Had this happened in Rockville or Gaithersburg, there would have been a parade through the streets and a proclamation presented by the mayor and council. It would have been heralded.

In Germantown, a three-peat state championship was tepidly acknowledged by a struggling little online news website. Not even a figurative pat on the back or “Way to go!” from the local leadership — because there is none. Is this our community? Is this acceptable to the residents of this community? Our kids win State Championships and they get little or no recognition.

The time for change is now, for if we don’t begin to change, Germantown will to spiral and become an apathetic pitiful civic community, where nobody will want to live.

Germantown is the forgotten nether region of Montgomery County. The County continues to prove that Germantown is firmly entrenched at the bottom of its priority list. There are 100,000 people in this town, and the County believes that they all have no reason to celebrate — anything.


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