Where We Live: Cross Creek

Cross Creek straddles Montgomery and Prince George's counties and is just minutes from the Beltway.
Cross Creek straddles Montgomery and Prince George's counties and is just minutes from the Beltway. (Jim Brocker for The Washington Post)
By Jim Brocker
Friday, March 18, 2011; 7:43 PM

Andrew Leighton is not a golfer, but the prospect of living on a golf course was intriguing when he and his family discovered the Cross Creek neighborhood. Now, Leighton, his wife, Jackie and their two children enjoy the view from their home adjacent to the course, located along the border between Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

"Sitting on the deck, watching the golfers play, is very nice," said Leighton, 42, a native of Jamaica. The Leightons had lived in the nearby Cherry Hill Road area and had been looking for a bigger house. They found spacious, modern homes in Cross Creek, along with what Leighton called a very welcoming neighborhood, great for raising a family.

"Our neighbors' children attend the same Catholic school (St. Francis International School in Silver Spring) as my kids, so we've got a carpool thing going. There are six or seven homes nearby where I know everyone," he said.

Cross Creek has attracted families such as the Leightons as well as other residents who say the upscale development, located just off Interstate 95 and minutes from the Beltway, is perfect for commuting between Washington and Baltimore. And residents have found that once they return home from work, they are greeted by friendly neighbors and enjoy plenty of outlets to satisfy active lifestyles.

Many were attracted by the golf course, a challenging 6,300-yard par 70 layout along both sides of the Little Paint Branch stream. The course winds its way through the community, mainly behind the homes, and motorists need to be wary of "cart crossings" as golfers traverse the streets.

Patsy Koehler and her husband, Bob, avid golfers who had lived nearby off Fairland Road, made the move to the community in 2003. "We loved it," Patsy Koehler recalled. "Loved the golf course, loved the houses, loved it all."

"For a community course, it's beautiful," she said. "Big trees, greenery . . . a lot of natural environment because the builder didn't cut down the trees. You would never know it was in the middle of suburbia."

When the Koehlers aren't golfing, they're often watching other golfers from their home just off one of the fairways. They also spend time with friends in the neighborhood. Residents say the open interior layouts of the homes, built mostly by Ryan Homes and NV Homes, are perfect for socializing. "A marvelous house to entertain because it's not compartmentalized," said Bob Koehler, 58, whose home features an open floor plan, with large windows and a high ceiling.

Patsy Koehler, 63, serves as the president of the Cross Creek Club Homeowners Association, which sponsors a host of community events designed to unify residents in the development, which lacks continuous street connections because of the golf course and the natural areas. In addition to a spring festival and picnic, the association has held international dinners and jazz nights.

That has created an atmosphere that residents say encourages community engagement. Brian McDaniel, 41, a lawyer and avid golfer, said the course was a draw for him, as was Cross Creek's location, which keeps him within reach of his D.C. office as well as courthouses in Rockville, Upper Marlboro and Baltimore.

But McDaniel said Cross Creek is more than just a convenient place to live. He recalls his neighbors' friendliness while his family was moving in about three years ago and says the positive vibe has continued. "Our community is very diverse. There's a number of different ethnicities. We've all been very respectful of one another . . . learning about other cultures." McDaniel and his wife, Felecia, a fitness expert, and their 3-year-old daughter have found that there is plenty to do as a family. In addition to the golf course and neighborhood parks, the nearby Fairland Community Recreation Center features gymnastics and aquatics, and the Gardens Ice House offers skating. "You can't go wrong if you want to stay active," he said.

McDaniel and Leighton work with Koehler on the association's board, which serves more than 600 homeowners.

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