Letter from the President – Everyone Can Help Improve Our Security

Letter from the President

Gwynn Roberson
Gwynn Roberson – PHCA President

As we move into a new year of resolutions and goals, PHCA has set the bar high for 2013. Our focus last year was on family and family-oriented amenities by creating the waterfront playground. This year our focus will be on neighborhood security. Although we do feel like we live in a gorgeous safe haven out here, we are not completely immune to crime. The extent of our crime is primarily an occasional car vandalism or shed theft, but no matter how minimal, the affected neighbor feels a sense of insecurity and violation. So let’s all come together this year to make this goal a reality.

The two goals of security we plan to accomplish this year will be:

  1. the implementation of a county recognized Neighborhood Watch; and
  2. a surveillance camera system with multiple cameras strategically placed throughout the neighborhood.

The Neighborhood Watch will be spearheaded by Joni Jones and George Satterthwaite, both residents of Holly Road. They will set up a core team of block captains from neighbors who have already volunteered (volunteers still needed) and create a neighborhood watch schedule that would be conducted during day and evening hours. We hope that all households would volunteer to do a short shift of patrolling during a time of day or night that is convenient for your schedule. Once this is complete, along with the assistance of our PG County Community Police Officer, Officer Mullendore, we will acquire official signage from the county that will be posted at the entrance. With the diligence of every resident this can and will be a very successful program.

The surveillance system would be a huge deterrent to theft, being that we would be able to obtain make, models, and tag numbers of vehicles entering or leaving the neighborhood during the timeframes of suspicious and criminal activities. We would ultimately want to strategically place 3-4 cameras throughout the neighborhood. We plan to accomplish this in phases. The first phase, which we would like to have completed by year end, would include installation of a camera at the Piscataway Hills entrance and a camera at the Waterfront park. We anticipate the first phase equipment and installation to cost in the range of $2,500 – $3,000. Although we can’t put a price tag on our families’ safety, this is a very expensive undertaking, which we plan to accomplish through fundraising events conducted throughout the year. So we ask that everyone please participate either through attending fund- raising events or making a monetary donation payable to the association towards the Surveillance Camera Fund.

I look forward to another productive year in Piscataway Hills, and seeing everyone out and about with better weather coming soon.

PHCA Canoe Slip Usage Fee

Leo J. Morawsky Canoe Pavilion at Lot 39 Waterfront Park

For those who may be unaware, the PHCA offers the use of a Canoe Rack which provides individual slips of up to 12 canoes or kayaks. The Canoe Rack was the idea of one of our past Board Members and residents, Leo Morowski, who passed away before the structure was built, but in whose name it is dedicated. To offset the cost of maintaining the structure and to ensure active slip usage (by residents who canoe several times annually), the PHCA Board has decided to assess annual fees of $20 per slip for PHCA members and $40 per slip for non-PHCA members. The fees will be implemented on the first Saturday of April 2013, the same day as the Annual Potomac River Clean-Up Event.The annual usage fee year will run from April 1 to March 31. Piscataway Hills residents who want to start or continue using one or more of the spaces on the canoe rack should contact PCHA Board Member Calvin O’Neil at the contact information below.

Current slip users will receive first preference to maintain your existing slip. The slip usage fee must be received no later than March 31 to maintain usage or your boat will need to be removed by April 6, 2013. Any boats left in an unpaid slip on April 6 will be determined to be abandoned and disposed of during the Annual Potomac River Clean-up event.


PCHA Waterfront Park Gate Lock to Change

Safety and security of our residents and property are two primary and ongoing concerns of the Pis- cataway Hills Community Association (PHCA) Board Members. It’s been over 10 years since the last replacement of the lock and issuance of new keys for the gate to the Piscataway Hills Waterfront Park (aka Lot 39). During this timeframe, we have experienced many home sales with old neighbors leaving the community and new residents taking their place. Therefore, the PHCA Board has decided it’s time to change the lock and issue new keys to the Waterfront Park gate. This will occur the first week of March 2013. If you wish to obtain a new gate key for vehicle access to the Waterfront Park, you can do so by contacting PCHA Vice President Dave Lishin.

Wine Tasting and Jazz Concert Planned for May

Taste up to 10 varieties of top-rated wines from various regions along with light appetizers, and hear a live jazz performance by Piscataway Hills’ very own Keith Wilson. This event will support the work of your neighborhood association, and a portion of the proceeds will go towards the Surveillance Camera Fund.

The PHCA Wine Tasting Fundraiser will be held Saturday, May 18, 2013, 4-6 p.m., at the Waterfront Park Pavilion. It costs $25 per person in advance ($30 per per- son on the day of the event). Tickets can be purchased from any board member.

First Easter Egg Hunt at Waterfront Park

Join your neighbors for an Easter Egg Hunt Fundraiser with games, crafts and more! The cost is $5 per child for tickets purchased in advance and $8 the day of the event. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the PHCA’s Surveillance Camera Fund.

The event will be held Sunday, March 24, 2013, 12 p.m.-2 p.m., with the Easter Egg Hunt starting at 12:30 p.m. It will take place at the PHCA Waterfront Park, where the event pavilion will be set up. It is strictly BYOB: “Bring Your Own Basket”

To purchase tickets, contact Gwynn Roberson (301-957-0401); Christie Hunter (646-841-4472); or Brad Bartee (202-600-6537).

Playground Approved For Lot 39 Waterfront Park


Playground Stock image

PHCA members approved plans for a new playground at Lot 39 Waterfront Park during the June 26 quarterly meeting. It will be the first play equipment installed at the park since an old swingset made of telephone poles was dismantled more than 25 years ago.

The new playground equipment is to cost $3,200, with PHCA to provide $1,200 and the rest coming from a special fundraising campaign. Supporters of the playground said that as of mid-September, $1,478 had been donated, leaving $522 still to be raised.

Residents who are interested in the playground are being urged to send donations to PHCA or drop them off with Treasurer Don Benedict as soon as possible. “I would really love to help make the playground a reality, but I can’t do it alone, nor only with the help of 4 other families,” wrote playground organizer Maureen Bartee in an August 14 message to the community. “Please consider making a contribution very soon so we can install the playground this fall.”

Designed for younger children, the new playground is to include a sliding board, a covered climbing platform, swings, and a rope ladder. It is to be assembled by volunteers and be located in the northwest corner of Lot 39, near the volleyball area and farthest away from the water.

The members also authorized PHCA to purchase liability insurance, which was estimated to cost between $500 and $900 per year for $500,000 of coverage. With average PHCA membership of about 70 households, the cost per member would be about $10 per year. PHCA President Gwynn Roberson said the Board of Directors had been advised that liability insurance would help prevent PHCA from losing control of Lot 39 in case of a lawsuit.

Concerns were also raised that individual board members might be liable for damages in certain cases. It was later determined that PHCA had carried liability insurance until about30 years ago.

Opponents of the liability insurance proposal contended that, because Lot 39 is not considered a buildable lot, it has little value and so would not attract lawsuits. Insurance coverage of $500,000, it was argued, could actually encourage lawsuits by increasing the potential payout to plaintiffs and lawyers. In addition, they pointed out that, even if PHCA lost Lot 39, residents would still have the right to use the property as stated in their deeds.

Immediately after the discussion, members voted 27-16 to authorize PHCA to buy liability insurance, and the playground proposal was approved by a vote of 37-6. Funding for the playground and liability insurance in the 2013 budget will be considered at the next PHCA quarterly membership meeting, Tuesday, September 25, at 7 p.m. at Spirit of Elijah Church.

With more children likely to be playing at Lot 39, especially after the playground is installed, efforts to reduce unsanitary dog droppings were discussed. One idea was to install dog cleanup bags on a post in the park. In general, dog owners were strongly encouraged to clean up after their pets.

Children’s Playground at Waterfront Park Selected

Playground Stock image

The children’s playground which was announced by fellow resident Maureen Bartee at the Spring PHCA Quarterly meeting was selected.  Voting for expenditures for the playground will take place at the Summer quarterly meeting.

The playground includes a trapeze swing, tire swing, wave slide, clatter bridge and tower, climbing ramp and rope, rope ladder, built-in picnic table, sandbox, Tic-Tac-Toe spinner panel, telescope and more.

To see additional details, click here: Blue Ridge Pioneer Peak.

Volunteers Clean Up Piscataway Creek Shoreline


Thirty-nine volunteers picked up 44 bags worth of bottles, cans, and other unsightly trash along the Piscataway Creek shoreline April 14 as part of the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup.



Piscataway Hills residents and a few environmentally minded volunteers from nearby areas enjoyed a perfect spring day for the cleanup. Among the more unusual items hauled out this year were a file cabinet, a wheelbarrow, a broken wooden bench, and two propane tanks. Only eight tires were found, which was far fewer than in previous years.


“Everyone agrees that there was far less trash this year—we must be making a difference,” said Debbie Kutzleb, who organized the Piscataway Hills shoreline cleanup along with PHCA Vice President Dave Lishin.


The Piscataway Hills cleanup crew picked up trash from Lot 39 Waterfront Park and the adjacent National Park Service land. Crews in boats also cleaned up the island across from the Lot 39 boat ramp and upstream along Piscataway Creek to the Indian Head Highway Bridge. All the trash was taken to a special dumpster at Fort Washington Marina to be hauled away.


Doughnuts and cookies gave the volunteers an energy boost before they started work at 9 a.m., and they were rewarded with hot dogs, beer, and other cold drinks after the cleanup ended around noon.


Piscataway Hills was one of 392 registered sites in this year’s Potomac Cleanup, which is sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Altogether, 7,532 vol- unteers picked up 118 tons of trash, including 1,178 tires, 126,500 recyclable beverage containers, 25,571 plastic bags, and 24,616 cigarette butts.


Residents Call for New Ideas

Since our previous newsletter last fall, we have been very busy in the Hills. In February 2012, I attended County Executive Rushern Baker’s Public Budget Hearing at Harmony Hall and spoke on behalf of PHCA to the panel on the benefits of restoring the leaf vacuum program. We’ve held two quarterly association meeting already this year, and discussed a plethora of topics including, but not limited to, security measures within the neighborhood, and Neighborhood Watch; the opening of the Tucker Road Sport & Learning Complex and the National Harbor Tanger Outlet; and upcoming volunteer opportunities within the neighborhood.

As I mentioned in my last column, my focus is getting more input from the community on what issues are important and of interest to you, and you responded loud and clear!! The hottest topic at our last quarterly meeting was the construction of a community playground at the Waterfront Park.
Although our community is uniquely different from other traditional neighborhoods, and we haven’t had a lot of small children in the neighborhood for many years, we should still offer standard amenities available in all other neighborhoods, and that includes a nearby playground for our families to utilize without driving out of Piscataway Hills. A committee of families in the neighborhood has been formed to create a design of the playground for board approval, and it will be voted on during our next quarterly meeting (June 26). Please contact Maureen Bartee if you are interest- ed in participating in the design and fundraising efforts for the waterfront playground.

Speaking of our waterfront park, and as we move into warmer months for water activities, we would ask that anyone who has a kayak or canoe stored at the waterfront park kayak rack and hasn’t used their boat for the last couple of summers, please consider storing your boat at home to free up rack spots for others in the neighborhood that kayak and/or canoe more frequently. We will also be discussing at our next meeting the possibility of building additional kayak/ canoe racks to accommodate increased water activities and population in the neighborhood.
With so many outdoor activities to do, I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at upcoming events, out on the water, or just walking through the neighborhood. If I don’t see you between now and the end of the summer, here’s wishing each of you and your family happy travels during summer vacation and safe Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.
Peace & Blessings,
Gwynn Roberson PHCA President