It is a picture postcard of postwar suburbia, tidy brick homes with mowed lawns and clipped hedges, the kind of middle-class neighborhood that spawned Prince George's County's Tax Reform Initiative by Marylanders.
Today, three years after county voters enacted TRIM by a decisive 3 to-1 margin, many of the settled suburbanites of Lewisdale are glad that they did. There has been, many say, no discernible decline in county services, while their property tax bills either have stayed the same or dropped slightly.
"The status quo's not so bad," said one woman working in her garden, a 30-year resident whose three children grew up here.
In this unincorporated development carved from a farm in 1948, many of the residents raised families and stayed on in retirement.The fruits of their labors are evident in the large, late-model American cars that line the curbs and fill the driveways and in the homes themselves: well-maintained brick ramblers and colonials on tree-shaded, winding streets.
Nearby are Prince George's Plaza and several apartment complexes where life is often transient. Here in Lewisdale, east of Riggs Road and north of East-West Highway, there is a sense of permanence.
"I've lived here since 1952," said Vincent Santilli, 74, a retired dry cleaner with no complaints about county services. "I call up for anything, they give you service." The other year, Santilli said, the county came "right away" to fix the pavement in front of his driveway.
"Everytime we call up, the county person is very nice," his wife, Anne, chimed in.
"I don't see any difference in services," said a retired government worker who voted for TRIM.
One neighborhood dissenter was Diane Braddock, who blamed what she called a deteriorating situation at the Lewisdale Elementary School on TRIM.
"The amount my taxes have been reduced is minimal to me," she said, compared to the $800 she now pays to send her daughter to a private parochial school. "At Lewisdale Elementary, staffing has decreased. Every year the staff has been cut back, and classes have been getting larger."
Both Brian Porter, a Prince George's school board spokesman, and Lewisdale principal Catherine Hudson disputed her view. According to Hudson, staffing actually has increased from 14 full-time teachers to 19 over the last three years and class sizes have remained stable. The building, meanwhile, has undergone extensive renovation and, if funds for materials are tight, Hudson said, she is managing just fine.
"I operate under the feeling that good management is able to cope with the change, and I happen to feel that I'm a good manager," she said. "When may kids need paper, we have it because we manage well. I can squeeze a nickel until it yells for help, I really can."