When Poole’s Store closed its doors recently, many Montgomery County residents were anxious to see what would become of the local general store that served the area for more than 45 years.
People had an opportunity to hear future plans and offer their own vision for Poole’s Store and the other buildings on the property at an open house and community meeting hosted by the Montgomery County Department of Parks on Saturday.
The Department of Parks does not have enough money to contribute to preserving and securing Poole's Store and other buildings on the property, said Gene Giddens, parks department deputy director.
“We have no money right now,” Giddens said at the public meeting held at the Upcounty Regional Services Center.
Although funds are tight, the Department of Parks is seeking community involvement as they assess the Poole's Store property and plan for its future — and they got just that at the meeting. About 100 people attended the meeting and offered their suggestions for the site.
Director of the Department of Parks Mary Bradford said she asked the department's management staff to attend the meeting so they could respond directly to the community on future plans for the site.
“We want to hear your thoughts and vision for the site,” she said.
Although many things are uncertain with the site, a local feed and farm supply distributor has agreed to lease the separate feed store, located across from Poole's Store, and ensure the service is not interrupted for the many riders who depend on the stock of feed each week. Calvin Day, owner of Farm and Home Service Inc., said he plans to sell feed and hopefully expand to other supplies in the spring.
The meeting began with a brief history of the site, a short analysis of the physical needs of the property and an overview of some of the constraints and problems that will have to be taken into consideration before final plans are made for the future of the site.
Jamie Kuhns, a senior historian at the Department of Parks, gave a history of the property and noted that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Seneca Historic District, which is protected by the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation.
“Preserving the store and house is very important to the parks system,” Kuhn said. “I hope you will use the past as inspiration and guidance to help determine the future for Poole's Store.”
The Department of Parks is waiting on an architect’s analysis of the site before making plans for its future, said John Nissel, the department’s division chief. The total price for preserving the site will not be known until the architect’s analysis is complete, he added.
Problems such as old wiring, sagging ceilings and floors, poor insulation and damage to the porch could add to the total cost of the preservation of the site, according to Nissel.
“No matter what the future use of the property, these matters have to be taken care of,” Nissel said.
Until the analysis of the property is completed, the Department of Parks is working to secure the property with the help of Park Police units, said Chief of Park Planning and Stewardship Division, Dr. John Hench.
Many of the people who attended expressed their expectations of the site.
“I urge the department to consider the following: keep a feed and general store, consider the needs of the local community, maintain an equestrian-friendly property and proceed with due care and in an open-manner,” said Tom Gutierrez, a longtime customer of Poole's store.
A link about the site's progress will soon appear on the Department of Park website, Bradford said.
“We do not want to see this place fall into neglect," Bradford said.