When construction fences went up and equipment was brought into Asbury Methodist Village, a retirement community in Montgomery County, Maryland, the residents, with diverse backgrounds in areas like engineering, design, wildlife management, and photography, justifiably, had a lot of questions—Why were the trees coming down? Is this design going to effectively manage the stormwater? What will happen to the hawk’s nest outside my balcony window? “Now they love it,” says Mike Jones, the community’s Capital Projects and Renovations Manager, who was responsible for fielding these questions throughout the construction project. “[Residents] kept asking when it was going to be done, and now they want it all to look like this,” he said of the 134-acre campus. With planned improvements to the community’s lake and additional stormwater drainage areas, perhaps it will. And the hawk is doing fine, in case you were wondering.
On October 16, less than a year after Ecotone completed the stream restoration projects at Asbury Methodist Village, the broader community came together to celebrate. The mayor of Gaithersburg, Jud Ashman, attended the event and delivered a proclamation to designate the day as “Asbury Methodist Village Arbor day.” Several dozen people including residents and their families, broader community members and leaders, gathered in an outdoor celebration to learn about the natural landscape, the stream restoration project, and participate in the dedication ceremony. The ceremony included a multidenominational blessing of the stream and a ceremonial tree planting; an Eastern Redbud donated by Ecotone that complements the diverse plantings installed by Bartenfelder Landscaping Services. Attendees could make seed “bombs” (dried bundles of soil, seeds, and nutrients to help them grow that can be catapulted into bare spots in need of flowers and vegetation), try their luck in nature bingo, go on a birding walk in the campus’ certified arboretum, and take part in forest bathing, a practice of attention and appreciation to the natural environment.
In addition to the October 16 event, Ecotone partnered with BayLand Consultants & Designers (designers for the stream restoration on reaches 1 and 2), to present a lecture for the community’s Kheese School about the project and how it benefits the local ecosystem and cleans water that flows into Seneca Creek and the Chesapeake Bay. This lecture is part of an ongoing lifetime learning series that Asbury offers residents and is another example of how the project is integrated into the wellbeing of the community, involving its residents in the restoration process now and into the future.