Just steps away from the site of the first Laytonsville fire hydrant, which was installed nearly 100 years ago, about 20 people turned out on Saturday morning to celebrate the opening of Laytonsville’s public water system.
After decades of planning and construction, the nearly 300 residents of Laytonsville now have access to public water.
Mayor Dan Prats said it was with great pride that they opened the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission-Laytonsville water system in the presence of the town’s friends and guest of honor, former mayor Willard Oland.
“This is a momentous day for the residents, businesses and institutions of Laytonsville,” Prats said. “It’s a day we’ve looked forward to for a long time. This is truly a great day for one of Maryland’s great historic towns.”
As part of the ceremony, water gushed from a new hydrant, located near Town Hall.
“We open this new hydrant to let public water flow for the first time in the town of Laytonsville,” Prats declared.
Prats said for some, the project would solve water quality issues; for others, it means they will have the ability to site a new septic field when they need to.
“For the kids at Laytonsville Elementary, it means they can drink from the water fountains again,” he said. “For all of us, it means new fire hydrants at the ready for the fire department to use in their quest to keep us all safe.”
The original hydrant, connected to a large tank behind Town Hall, has not been operational in years. Prats said in the 1920’s, the tank was built to provide water to the hydrant which sat next to Town Hall’s driveway. “This was built in response to fires that had hit the barns,” he said. “When the old firehouse went up in flames [in 1965], firefighters came to tap the hydrant to get water to fight the fire. Unfortunately, it was winter and the tank had frozen solid, so no water was available. We never have to worry about that again.”
Prats said he was touched by how many people came out to celebrate the opening of the system, and to honor Oland, who served as the town’s mayor from 2003-2011 and was instrumental in the water project.
“Many have known him for decades, and have benefited from his hard work on behalf of Laytonsville,” Prats said. “This process was started decades ago, but Willard was there from the beginning and is the one person who worked tirelessly to make this system a reality.”
Prats credited Oland with working with the County Council to get the water categories approved, walking almost every hook-up application through the process, holding public meetings to answer questions and get input, and ensuring historic homes and trees in town would not be harmed during construction.
“For these and other reasons, The Town Council and I invited Willard to open the system, because we all know how hard he worked on this project to make Laytonsville a better place to live,” said Prats.
Oland said that he didn’t think this day would ever come.
“I am very glad that we finally have water in the town,” he said. “There were a lot of other folks credited besides me, and those credits were well-deserved, especially that of Mr. Natelli.”
As part of developing the Laytonsville Preserve community, Natelli Communities funded the majority of the project, along with WSSC.
Several elected officials attended the ceremony, including Sen. Karen S. Montgomery (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville, Del. Craig Zucker (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville, County Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park, Ashima Talwar from the office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Dist.8) of Kensington, and Laytonsville Town Councilmembers Jim Ruspi and Dave Perusch.
“I applaud WSSC, the town of Laytonsville, and their partners on the completion of this important project,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “I know that it has been a top priority for decades, and it is now time to ‘open the system’ on this historic new water system.”
Montgomery, Kaiser, Luedtke and Zucker, in a joint statement, said the completion of this project is a testament to Oland, and a great example of what can be accomplished when a community comes together.
Other special guests in attendance included Chief Buddy Sutton of the Laytonsville District Volunteer Fire Department; Tom Natelli of Natelli Communities; WSSC representatives; and Jim Thompson, owner of Wilson Construction, the contractor for the water mains.