Six candidates vying for three seats on the Montgomery Village Foundation Board of Directors shared their vision for the area Wednesday and answered residents’ questions — largely focused on redevelopment — at a candidates’ forum at the North Creek Community Center.
Current board members Dennis Clark and Pete Young are running for re-election, while newcomers David Lechner, Don O’Neill and Peter Webb hope to win a seat for the first time. Board member Linc Perley is not seeking re-election.
The nonprofit Montgomery Village Foundation has nine volunteer board members who serve three-year staggered terms. Three are elected each year. The foundation provides services and programs to more than 40,000 residents and maintains more than 300 acres in Montgomery Village.
At the forum, resident questions covered many topics, including crime and education. Redevelopment talk, however, was the biggest priority for most attendees.
When asked for their opinions on how the golf course land should be used, the candidates were divided.
Two candidates, Lechner and O’Neill, were in favor of holding on to the golf course. O’Neill said he would like to see ball fields and other outdoor amenities come to the area.
Lechner said he wants to keep the golf course intact, but realizes that a lot of money and renovation would be needed.
“It’s an old golf course. It has fairway and green problems, and the clubhouse is exactly the same as it was 30 years ago, and it’s falling apart,” he said. “Personally, I think that the community should be given the option to provide a golf option for itself.”
He suggested that much of the money could come from new residents’ user fees.
Webb said that while he has enjoyed playing on the golf course, not many other residents shared his interest.
“It doesn’t appeal to enough residents to necessitate the space,” he said. “I think we can use that space much more productively for the village as a whole.”
Young agreed with Webb, and said developing the land in the way that Monument Realty intends is a better alternative than keeping the golf course.
“I think having a permanent, roughly 80-acre central park green space that all 40,000 residents could have access to would be an enormous asset to the community,” he said. He added that a new and varied housing stock would benefit the village.
One resident asked the candidates for their positions on the expansion of Goshen Road, a transportation project that would widen lanes, and add sidewalks, bike paths, and medians.
The Montgomery Village Board’s official position is to support the expansion of the road with a maximum 91-foot right of way, as long as it minimizes the impact to residents’ properties.
Most of the candidates said they support some kind of modification to the road.
“We really have to tackle this problem of traffic on Montgomery Village Avenue,” Clark said. “We have to provide some alternatives. I don’t agree with the widening — I mean 91 feet is like ridiculous. I think we can compromise on something smaller.”
O’Neill felt differently.
“I think the board should take the position of no widening of Goshen Road,” he said. “I’m concerned that there’s going to be new money coming into the system because of the economy.”
A video of the forum will be posted online at montgomeryvillage.com.
Election ballots will be mailed to residents on Feb. 7 and are due back to the Montgomery Village Foundation by 5 p.m. March 7. Results will be announced March 8.