President Ralph Lee, 9111 Woodland Drive
Vice Pres. Philander D. Poston, 1201 Woodside Parkway
Secretary Victor E. Grotlisch, 8916 Woodland Drive
Treasurer Samuel F. Birthright, 1210 Highland Drive
Considerable discussion took place as to the assessed value of the property and of taxes paid, looking toward a request to the county to install street lights. It was pointed out that the unimproved lots were assessed at $147,640 (1997 equivalent: $1,328,000), "and in addition 45 houses, making about $350,000 [1997 equivalent: $3,147,000] estimated present assessed value of Woodside Park."
The unlighted streets apparently offered a splendid "lover's lane" not agreeable to the new residents, leading to the following action:
Formal incorporation of the Association took place in August 1927 under the name of the Woodside Park Property Owners Association. The incorporators were Messrs. Lee, Poston, Hopkins and Grotlisch listed above, and also Hiram E. Johnson, 1506 Highland Drive; Charlton P. Lathrop, 1209 Highland Drive; and Charles W. Williams, 9033 Georgia Avenue. Each of the incorporators donated $1.50 (1997 equivalent: $13.70) to the Association to cover the cost of incorporation.
Implementation of not only the higher minimum cost restriction and the architectural review board but also of the community center plans required action by the Woodside Development Corporation. Although the Corporation did implement increased minimum cost restrictions in some deeds, it did not require architectural review of house plans and it never donated the promised lots to the Association for the construction of the community center and tennis courts.
The Association collected dues beginning in 1927 in the amount of $2.00 per couple, or $1.00 per person (1997 equivalent: $18 and $9). A charter member recalled that the Association usually met at the Lee house, with 10 to 15 people in attendance. However, during 1927 a payment of $4.00 (1997 equivalent: $37) was designated "Rent of School" (presumably Woodside School). Late in the year there was a payment of $5.00 (1997 equivalent: $46) "for use of Grace Church Guild Hall."
Total receipts for the year 1927 were $96.50 (1997 equivalent: $885); expenditures were $89.44 (1997 equivalent: $820, leaving a balance on hand of $7.06 (1997 equivalent: $65). Things picked up in 1928 and the balance at year end was $79.72 (1997 equivalent: $743).
Annual dues have always been relatively low. In 1975 dues were still only $3.00 per year (1997 equivalent: $9.00). As inflation continued, dues were increased to $5.00 by 1978. Dues were increased to $10.00 and then $20.00 per year in the 1980s.
In 1931 the Association's articles of incorporation were amended to change the name from the Woodside Park Property Owners Association to the Woodside Park Civic Association. J. Reginald Boyd was president at this time; his wife Ada was secretary.
The Association joined the Montgomery County Civic Federation in 1927 and paid annual dues of $15.00 (1997 equivalent: $137). Membership in the Civic Federation has been continuous since then, and some Woodside Park delegates have won outstanding honors there.
The Evening Star Cup was awarded annually to the person selected by the Civic Federation for
having done the most outstanding service for Montgomery County during the past year. The
following were selected while delegates from Woodside Park.
Allen H. Gardner, 1515 Dale Drive, for 1937-38, and also for 1941-42.
Harold P. Morris, 1112 Noyes Drive, for 1949-50.
Wayne Birdsell, 1310 Noyes Drive, for 1952-53.
A committee of which Dr. Harold P. Morris was a member, for 1954-55.
Dr. Dean W. Gibson, 1300 Noyes Drive, for 1981-82.
Dr. Gibson also won the Montgomery Journal cup for 1982.
The Civic Federation also awards the Sentinel Cup to those who have made "significant contributions to good government at the local government level." The 1996 Sentinel cup was shared by Will Moody, 1303 Highland Drive.
In the mid 1930s the Association was one of the founders of a joint conference of representatives of civic associations in the Silver Spring area. In about 1941 the Allied Civic Group evolved from this conference. Woodside Park has ever since had delegates to the Group, which is interested primarily in matters which affect the Silver Spring area but also takes positions on county-wide matters such as schools and taxes.
The Civic Association has long been active in enhancing the neighborhood. In early years the Association convinced the County to take over the existing streets and to maintain them. Later the Association conducted a successful roadside tree planting campaign which had shown considerable result by 1947. Floyd Smith, of 9022 Fairview Road, was particularly active in this effort; he planted trees throughout the neighborhood. In the 1980s this effort was taken up once again by the Association and was a particular project of Jim Van Cott, who lives at 1400 Dale Drive.
The Association has also been active in protecting the neighborhood from various developmental, political, or governmental threats; this activity is described in another chapter. Not all threats to Woodside Park's integrity have been man-made, however. While the neighborhood has never seriously suffered from hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods, and while even the occasional 2 foot snow falls have been more of an inconvenience than anything else, the trees of Woodside Park were seriously threatened in the 1970s and 1980s.
The first problem affected only American elm trees. Some blocks in Woodside Park had canopies of stately elms; some intersections had large elms on all for corners. These trees were increasingly lost to Dutch elm disease in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Civic Association encouraged home owners and the County to try to save the trees, but the high cost and the need to inject chemicals into each tree each year kept most of our elms from being saved; only a few remain in the neighborhood.
Gypsy moths were another threat to the trees. After several years of drought or near drought, gypsy moths arrived in Woodside Park in the mid-1980s. The gypsy moth was first introduced in New England in the Nineteenth Century and slowly spread, denuding forests as it went. The moths are particularly harmful when they first move into an area because natural defenses are not yet available. While in the caterpillar stage, gypsy moths feed on tree leaves; when the caterpillars are present in great numbers, whole forests are stripped bare. The first year of substantial gypsy moth damage in Woodside Park was 1988. Some trees were hard hit and driveways under them would be literally covered by little green pellets (dropping from caterpillars) every morning. Some residents said they could hear the hoard of caterpillars munching on leaves in the middle of the night.
The County government surveyed Woodside Park for gypsy moth egg masses in late 1988 and determined that there was a sufficient infestation to warrant aerial spraying. However, the County would only spray the area more or less north of Highland Drive since the number of oak trees in the forest mix in the rest of the neighborhood was not high enough to meet their spray criteria. The Civic Association decided to organize aerial spraying for any property in the neighborhood whose owner wanted it. The Association found a helicopter company based in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which was licensed for pesticide spraying and which would charge $60.00 (1997 equivalent: $77) per lot to spray; 133 residents signed up. The helicopter company was given a map of which lots to spray as well as school bus routes and pick up times, so that these areas could be avoided when children were present. Early one morning the "Woodside Park Air Force" took to the skies flying low and loud, spraying dimilin as it went.
A study of egg masses late in 1989 revealed a lesser threat for 1990, but there was still a demand for spraying from many members. The Civic Association organized another spraying effort, this time using "bt.," a naturally occurring bacteria which attacks gypsy moths, rather than a chemical pesticide. This time 118 families signed up for spraying, again at $60 (1997 equivalent: $73) per lot. The "Woodside Park Air Force" took to the skies for one last time. In the summers since 1990 there have been some gypsy moths evident but no significant damage to the trees.
On a much more pleasant note, the Civic Association has not neglected social activity over the years. Perhaps the first social effort was a large card party that was held in the Grace Church parish hall early in 1929. The party netted a profit of over $50 (1997 equivalent: $470) for the Association.
Beginning in the 1930s and lasting up to about 1945, "silver teas" were held nearly every spring to provide a social outlet and to raise funds. The "host" house would rotate among those having the most adequate facilities, and the hostess' friends and neighbors donated cakes, cookies, tea and coffee. Every guest made a silver offering, i.e., silver coins. It was a great way to meet neighbors and new residents, and also raise funds for the Association.
Social activities in later years were not designed to raise money since dues and occasional special appeals have raised more than enough to keep the Association's treasury in the black.
Annual picnics have been held for many years, usually during the early summer. The Association's 50th Anniversary Picnic was held on October 31, 1976. Attractions and activities include a puppet show, a clown, a pantomime show, a magic show, country and western singing by "Mama Tried," singing by Sue Roemer, fire engines, arts and crafts, and "great foods, fresh fruits, apple cider, wines, home-baked cakes, and other culinary surprises" and "Greetings from Dean Gibson, President of the Woodside Park Civic Association." The annual picnics have been held at several locations in the neighborhood including the block of Alton Parkway between Ballard and Burton Streets and on the hill in front of 1201 Woodside Parkway. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the picnics were organized by Marian Dirda and held in the Dirda yard at 1200 Woodside Parkway. Most recent picnics were held in Fairview Urban Park, as were fall festivals organized in 1995 and 1996. The emphasis at picnics was on activities and food. Activities included bicycle decorating contests and races, mini-marathons, parent-child three-legged races, sack races, badminton, face painting, shirt silk screening, and clowns. Some years there was a "Moon Bounce" or hay rides behind a tractor. Merv Conn of 1015 Noyes Drive usually provided music with his accordion. The fire department often brought one or more trucks or ambulances to the site for all to see. On occasion fire trucks have sprayed water high into the air and provided a great opportunity for Woodside Park children to get thoroughly wet.
Over the years pot luck dinners were often held as a substitute for the Association's regular meeting in February. But even regular Association meetings have often had social overtones. For example both the March and October 1949 meetings featured neighborhood residents Dr. and Mrs. Martin Cooley talking and showing color slides from their trip through Guatemala the previous winter. The talk in March was so popular, that it was presented a second time by popular demand.
The Association has always been conscious of its history. Twenty-five years before its 50th
anniversary picnic, the Civic Association celebrated its first quarter century by holding a
celebration which included a play depicting the first Association meeting, a review of the
Association's accomplishments, and a square dance. Transportation was provided for residents
needing a way to get to the meeting.
The Association has also sponsored more formal social occasions. For example, on May 20, 1989, the Association held a diner at Mamma Regina's Restorante in what was then the Silver Spring Sheraton Hotel (now the Quality Inn on Colesville Road) to honor Dean Gibson's "seventeen years of dedication and service to Woodside Park."
A major Association activity in the mid-1990s was efforts to develop Fairview Urban Park. After considerable effort led by Dean Gibson and stretching over a number of years and finally involving intervention by the County Council, the Association got the Park and Planning Commission to remove its employee parking lot from the park and begin development of the land as a park. Fairview House, the former Women's Club building, was also removed. The Association agreed to monitor the park and clean it on a regular basis. The Association also raised funds to augment the very limited County funds made available for improving the park. Proceeds from t-shirt sales at the 1996 annual picnic were devoted to the park. In addition a house and garden tour was held in the fall of 1996 to raise funds for the park. A community garage sale was also held in the fall of 1996. A silent auction was held in February 1997 to benefit the park.
Another activity that may be classed as social is the publication of the Civic Association Newsletter, The Voice. The first issue of The Voice was dated January 1975. It had followed a trial issue called The Observer, which had been published the previous October. Nancy Mason was the first editor. She was followed by Linda Katz and Kay Bowman. Publication continued into the early 1980s. The 8 to 12 page newsletter was published quarterly and was filled with various stories about or of interest to Woodside Park residents. Some articles concerned Civic Association activities and efforts to "Preserve the Park," but many other items of interest were printed. New babies were listed. Recipes were printed. School news was published. Teen ads for baby sitting, leaf raking, and snow shoveling appeared. Plant swaps were promoted.
The Voice was revived and published monthly except for the summer months in the early 1990s by Nancy Urban of 1325 Dale Drive and then further expanded by Robert Barnes and Lynne Perrie of 1506 Grace Church Road in 1995. Scott Baur of 1017 North Noyes Drive was editor in 1996, 1997, and 1998. The newsletter normally contained at least 12 pages and featured a column from the president, reports from committees working on such issues as traffic and development of Fairview Urban Park, a page of Woodside Park history, a report on crime in the neighborhood based on police reports, minutes of the preceding meetings, neighborhood news of all sorts, and ads.
There have always been other neighborhood social activities which have contributed greatly to the neighborhood but have been only peripherally related to the Civic Association. The association's role in these activities has been limited to publicizing them in The Voice and lending encouragement. One example is the Kids Chorale organized by Joan Phalen of 1000 Highland Drive in 1992. From sing-alongs for 20 children, the Kids Chorale has grown into a chorus for 150 neighborhood children who perform at Children's Hospital, give concerts, and go caroling each winter. Another example is the "Friday Night Forum" series of talks by neighborhood residents. These talks and discussions were first organized by Barbara Geiger-Green of 1011 South Mansion Drive in 1995. They were held in various neighborhood homes and were well-attended. Topics ranged from pediatric research to the future of the inner city.