Members of Gaithersburg's Brighton East neighborhood were joined by Mayor Sidney Katz, the city council, and other city officials Tuesday night at Bohrer Park to discuss community issues in a "Council in the Community" forum meeting.
Many of the community issues—including crime, housing code standards, traffic, and illegal boarding—boiled down to Katz encouraging those in attendance to communicate their problems to the city more frequently.
"Obviously we all need to communicate a little better and that's what we're going to work on," Katz said, frequently asking whether or not community members had been in touch with city Neighborhood Services liaison Kevin Roman.
Some had, others had not, Roman said.
According to Roman, a neighborhood inspection of Brighton East last May showed approximately 34 percent of the nearly 200 homes received notification that their property was not up to code standards.
Today, only two of those homes have outstanding issues, Roman said. One has a dead tree awaiting removal. Another vacant, foreclosed-upon home has loose shingles.
Roman said among the seven abandoned homes in Brighton East, four to five have been foreclosed, two are for sale, and one has been condemned.
One community member raised concerns that the condemned home was not being properly maintained, but Roman said a neighbor had agreed to do the upkeep and was in negotiations to purchase the property.
Of major concern for other neighbors was traffic at the intersection of Summit Hall and Brighton Drive, which one resident called "an accident waiting to happen."
The resident estimated that 60 percent of the cars who approach the intersection fail to stop at its stop sign. Council member Cathy Drzyzgula said there is no easy fix to the problem.
"I live in a neighborhood similar to your neighborhood," Drzyzgula said. "The stop signs are a problem everywhere and the only way to stop that is to double the size of the police force."
Instead, the council member suggested starting a community watch, noting it helped reduce traffic problems and petty crime in her neighborhood. It also helps build a productive network to discuss community issues, she said.
Drzyzgula also recommended community members use the city's online reporting tool to notify police of any traffic-related issues, ranging from the stop sign to permit parking.
Police Chief Mark Sroka said city police use the tool to look at trends and determine which locations need increased enforcement.