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HABS NO. MD-1216 Page 14

Donovan turned to glossy abelia (Abelia grandiflora), ileagnes, and varying hollies (Ilex) and crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia) to add contour, variety, color, and fullness to the landscaping.

In addition to the plantings surrounding the apartment buildings, Community Builders charged the Donovan firm with designing the par-3 golf course for the development. The course was promoted early on as one of the many assets that gave Springhill Lake the quality of affordable luxury. Integrated from the outset into the original site plan, it proved expensive to maintain due to drainage issues and was eventually abandoned in favor of development of more units and roads.

Advertised in the Washington Post and Evening Star, the modest golf course was an attractive amenity for the complex, giving it a “country club” feeling. The course opened in June of 1967 and encountered problems immediately. Because of the extensive excavation involved in Springhill Lake, the addition of impermeable surfaces – building roofs, asphalt roads, and even turf grass – water runoff, and the natural topography of the area, excess water collected in the area of the golf course. In order to eliminate the pools of water that formed and remained during and after periods of rain, the builders added fill to the lower contours of the course. While this evened out the standing pools, the underlying drainage issue remained. The turf, trees, and shrubs of the course deteriorated with the unremitting moisture and died and had to be replaced or removed. 38

Finding the upkeep of the course difficult and expensive, Community Realty – Springhill Lake’s property managers – deeded the course to the city of Greenbelt to run, freeing the management company from the burden of maintenance and operation. However, they retained the development rights to part of the course, which they later exercised in order to build another section of apartment units. Not having a complete golf course, the city devoted much of the deeded land to an overpass crossing the Capital Beltway. 39


The Community

From the outset, the site planning and design, both at the city level and at the community level, influenced life in Springhill Lake. The physical separation of Springhill Lake from the rest of Greenbelt by the Capital Beltway was mirrored in political separation. After a few years of municipal inattentiveness, Springhill Lake residents organized in the 1970s to elect several city council members and from the Springhill Lake community. In addition, issues like traffic and automobile inaccessibility motivated “Springhill Lakers” to get involved in the larger politics of Greenbelt.

The groundbreaking for Springhill Lake was an auspicious occasion, covered in the Greenbelt and Washington newspapers. With city, state, and county officials in attendance, participants promoted the ambitious size of the development and the vision for the future of both Greenbelt and surburban Washington, DC. However, as each new phase was built and opened, problems emerged in the original planning and in the larger politics of how Springhill Lake residents related to old Greenbelt.

38 39

Ibid. Jim Giese. “Springhill Lake Chataqua.” Greenbelt Museum.

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