In Marlton, rejuvenation is par for the course

Jim Brocker - Youth soccer teams are a familiar sight at Marlton Community Park in the Upper Marlboro area of Prince George’s County.

When you live in the Marlton neighborhood, getting involved with the community is the natural thing to do. Take Bill Manning, for example. He’s the vice president of the local civic association, president of his homeowners group and a member of the police citizens advisory board.

James Grier is the president of the civic association and a board member with the Marlboro Boys and Girls Club. His daughter is president of her elementary school’s class.

(Gene Thorp/The Washington Post) - Marlton

Their spirit is emblematic of many residents in Marlton, a community of about 3,200 homes and still growing in the Upper Marlboro area of Prince George’s County. “People in Marlton — if we can get something done, we say, ‘Let’s see how we can do it,’ ” said Manning, 65, a 17-year resident.

Manning, Grier and other residents monitor affairs around Marlton, which has experienced growth spurts and slowdowns in its nearly 50-year history. From its beginnings as a golf course community surrounded by tobacco fields, Marlton has morphed into a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and apartments outside the Beltway.

A few original residents still live in the older areas, but buyers now can also choose from newer three-story townhouses and larger single-family homes. Eight homeowners groups enforce covenants, collect assessments and maintain common areas.

Activities abound: Marlton residents stay active, from the board rooms to the playing fields. Residents can join two outdoor pools, and each has a youth swim team. On a recent Saturday, the field at Marlton Neighborhood Park was overrun with youngsters scrambling after soccer balls, the children’s efforts backed by vocal, enthusiastic parents. Around the community, joggers, walkers and cyclists made their rounds up and down the hilly streets.

And golfers in carts crossed the roadways on the way to the tee boxes tucked behind the houses.

Marlton is “a beautiful place,” Grier said. “It’s an older community, with pride of ownership.”

More amenities sought: Still, Grier, 52, a father of six, says he believes more activities are needed to keep the area’s teenagers and young children busy.

“You can’t let a kid just go out and ride a bike like we used to do,” Grier said, noting that children today need safe, positive outlets for entertainment.

While Marlton’s golf course draws older people, residents say more outlets are needed for the youngsters. “That’s the bad thing about being remote — there’s not as many things for kids to do,” Manning said. “You know, when you have idle minds, you can get problems along the way.” The civic group has been lobbying Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (D), a Marlton resident, and talking with parks officials about more amenities. Residents are looking forward to a regional facility with a swim center, similar to one in Landover, planned for just south of the community.

In Marlton, more recreational facilities will be phased in, including a park, play area and trails, as the new East Marlton, is developed. A youth center is planned.

Expansion in the works: Marlton came together during the mid-1960s when nearly 2,000 acres were rezoned as a residential planned community. The oldest homes, featuring Colonial styling and brick fronts, are found along North Marlton Avenue and Old Colony Drive, according to Frances Poling, who lived in Marlton for 30 years and is still the publisher of the Marlton Advocate, a monthly magazine that chronicles local events and highlights residents. Poling says the original homes went for $28,990 and up.

Preliminary plans for the newest East Marlton section have been approved for 572 units, and of those units, site plans have been approved for nearly 100 single-family homes and about 300 townhouses, according to information from Pleasants Development, which manages the land for owner Lake Marlton Limited Partnership. East Marlton could have a maximum of more than 1,300 residential units.

Elsewhere in Marlton, the as yet undeveloped Marlton Town Center is zoned for commercial and office space as well as residential units, and there is also a provision for elderly housing, according to information from the company.

Restoring attractions: One of the early draws to Marlton was its nine-hole golf course and country club, which opened in 1968. Over time, the course struggled and eventually closed, and the fairways went dormant until 1989. Then Lake Marlton LP purchased the land and hired Ault, Clark and Associates to refurbish the course, adding another nine holes.

The course reopened in 1998 and is operated by Kemper Sports as a public facility. Frank Abood Jr., who grew up in Marlton and learned to play golf on the local course, now works there as a manager. Abood, whose father was the golf professional at the country club, says he is amazed by Marlton’s growth. “I hardly recognize the neighborhood now,” he said, remembering the rural beginnings when residents had to go to Clinton or Waldorf to shop.

Marlton’s iconic gazebo, visible from U.S. 301, was the original gateway to the community. Over the years, the structure fell into disrepair until residents campaigned to save it. Clara White, who has lived in Marlton since 1976, said locals helped raise thousands of dollars to fix the gazebo. “A lot of volunteers from the community made that happen,” Manning added.

Living there: U.S. 301 is on the west, Croom Road is on the north and east, and Duley Station Road is on the south.

Much of the eastern area of Marlton is undeveloped. Marlton housing “runs the whole spectrum,” said John Lesniewski, the president-elect of the Prince George’s County Association of Realtors and a broker with Re/Max United. “It’s been a 50-year work in progress” from small townhouses to 3,500-square-foot detached homes, for everyone from young couples to homeowners “making lots of money,” he said.

There are even apartments for senior citizens.

Older two-level townhouses are selling from $99,000 to $120,000, while there are currently five newer three-level townhouses on the market at prices ranging from $263,400 to $329,000. There are four detached single-family homes on the market now for standard sale, with prices from $200,000 to $314, 950. There are five short sales, with asking prices between $140,000 and $240,000. Twenty-nine standard-sale single-family detached homes sold in the past 12 months for between $110,000 and $435,000. Ten foreclosures sold for between $135,000 and $281,601.

Shopping: Two grocery stores serve the area. Other shopping options are available in Upper Marlboro as well as Bowie and Waldorf, 15 to 20 minutes away.

Transit: Marlton is just outside the reach of Metrobus, but County buses stop in nearby Upper Marlboro near the courthouse, and the 20 and 21 routes go to Metrorail stations.

Schools: Public schools include Marlton and Mattaponi elementaries, James Madison Middle, and Frederick Douglass High.

Jim Brocker is a freelance writer.

 
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