The Civic Association

The College Gardens Civic Association (CGCA) has been in continuous existence since 1970. Scores of residents have contributed thousands of hours to participation in CGCA’s efforts, representing themselves and their neighbors to help establish and maintain College Gardens as the community we’re so proud of. The list of CGCA presidents since its inception is only a small indication of the total effort on the part of all CGCA members:

College Gardens Civic Association Presidents

Term Began Term Ended Name
1970 1972 Tony DiGioia
1972 1973 Andrea Weirich
1973 1974 Lorrenzo Ricks
1974 1976 Stan Morrow
1976 1977 Buffy Draewell
1977 1979 Bob Weirich
1979 1981 Mary Corley
1981 1984 Joe Mazzetta
1984 1988 Bill Hickman
1988 1992 Marshall Fisher
1992 1996 Harriot Manley
1996 1998 Diane Olechna
1998 2000 Dick Menzer
2000 2004 Ted Reuther
2004 2008 Mark Pierzchala
2008 2010 Mike Phillips
2010 2014 Tom Miner
2014 2016 Jerry Callistein
2016 Present Tom Miner

The level of activity of the CGCA has often been related to the imminence of city or developmental issues affecting College Gardens or its immediate vicinity.

Major Issues confronting the community over the years:

1. Approval of West Gude Drive extension to Gude Drive. Prior to the building of West Gude Drive, the College Gardens properties were contiguous to King Farm. Concerns about the West Gude Drive plans arose as early as 1973. The community fought to move West Gude Drive further north to preserve more of the back yards of homes on Harvard and Pitt Courts, but to no avail. Height of dispute was in 1980, when the civic association hired a lawyer to assist on the issue.

2. Plans for College Plaza shopping center and commercial development at corner of Gude Drive and Route 355 were of concern in 1972. Community concerns were expressed, but development proceeded. College Plaza opened in December, 1973.

3. Metro construction at one point envisioned maintenance yards in Rockville, rather than at Shady Grove. The Federated Civic Association (apparently a coalition of Rockville civic associations) in June of 1973 requested the Mayor’s help in moving the work yards out of Rockville. By October of 1973, the Transit Authority and County Council were considering Metro yards closer to Shady Grove Road.

4. Montgomery County attempted to build a huge wet pond storm water management facility along Watts Branch between College Gardens and Woodley Gardens. The permanent pool of water would have covered 3.1 acres, and it would have been controlled by a 23-foot high dam. After the community expressed its opposition in 1976, the initiative died.

5. The County’s Gude Landfill grew endlessly until it became known as “Mount Trashmore”. The County initially promised to close this trash dump by December, 1977 but the problem did not end until the opening of the Oaks Landfill in Laytonsville in 1982.

6. County consideration of a trash incinerator at the intersection of Route 355 and Shady Grove Road. In 1986 and 1987, the College Gardens community joined with Shady Grove area citizens to oppose such plans. The result was the building of a trash transfer system at Shady Grove and the incinerator at Dickerson.

7. City staff’s 1984 report recommended to build housing on the 20-acre wooded tract which had originally been set aside for a never-built junior high school. Community efforts, with the help of Mayor Doug Duncan and County Councilman Bill Hanna, culminated in a City and County land swap in 1994. This allowed the establishment of the Upper Watts Branch Forest Preserve by the City.

8. College Gardens residents never had any doubt that the King Farm would be developed at some point. The community’s concerns were about how this development would proceed. The earliest testimony by the community occurred during the mid-1980’s at a hearing by the County Planning Commission.When it became clear that the property would be annexed to Rockville, the focus of the community’s pressure to be heard shifted to the Mayor and Council. During the mid-1990’s, the civic association position centered on three concerns: density, traffic and impact on Watts Branch. The density allowed in the County’s Master Plan would increase the residential population of Rockville by 18%, but on only about 6% additional land.

Little was done to address the community’s concerns.The final straw came when the City proposed to reconstruct the sewer which runs along Watts Branch and to build a paved maintenance road through the wooded area. Citizens from Woodley Gardens and College Gardens banded together and eventually pressured the City to build a sewer system for King Farm along West Gude Drive, rather than disrupting the natural environment of the wooded parkland.

9. 2001 City storm water management plans for Watts Branch included major changes to the College gardens duck pond and potential disruption to the forest habitat through stream restoration work, including turning the College Gardens Park into a large, concrete storm water management facility. Thanks to the efforts of the civic association, the city agreed to work with College Gardens residents and developed a compromise that allowed the community to not only maintain, but improve College Gardens Park, while still allowing the city to meet its storm water management needs. This outstanding example of city & resident cooperation has helped earn Rockville awards for urban design, storm water management, and sustainability.