Trudy Schwarz is Gaithersburg’s community planning director, and in her city role she is often called upon to take out-of-town visitors on walking and driving tours of the Kentlands community, one of the oldest existing examples of new urbanism.
Schwarz said the city does not keep a log of the planning tours done over the years, but she recalls groups coming from places as far away as Korea, China and Canada and others from Nevada, Pennsylvania, Prince George’s County and Virginia.
“Our department has done tours for the American Planning Association and the Urban Land Institute as part of their national conferences held in Washington, D.C.,” said Schwarz. “Tours have also been done for groups such as local college classes, municipal/county officials and their department representatives, planning commissioners and developers.”
Schwarz was involved in three tours within the past year and two tours the year before.
“In my estimation, the number of tour requests has really gone down from five to 10 years ago,” said Schwarz.
City Council member Michael Sesma recently helped lead a city-wide tour of visiting officials who were in the Washington, D.C., area for a National League of Cities (NLC) committee meeting, and he said one visiting official was so taken away with the Kentlands neighborhood she wanted to know the residency requirements to run for city office here.
Schwarz said the Kentlands Community Foundation (KCF) and Duany, Plater- Zyberk & Company also provide tours of the Kentlands and Lakelands communities. “Some of the tours that the city has participated in are coordinated through either of their offices,” she said.
Both DPZ and KCF officials say tours remain popular with visitors.
In fact, the foundation recently redesigned the Docent Walking Tours of Kentlands brochure to include more photos and historical information providing visitors with the option of a self guided tour if they choose. According to the KCF’s annual report, docent-led walking tours are offered generally from spring to fall and include a 90-minute tour and talk of the new urbanism concept of Kentlands and the history and design principles behind the creation of the community.
For more information, www.kentlands.org.