Tucked into a corner of town between the local middle and high schools and Md. 17, Middletown Glen is a neighborhood growing out of adolescence.
From a construction standpoint, the community is almost complete, with only three or four of 81 total units left to be built. The local streets, stained with orange and brown mud tracked in by construction vehicles, are still waiting for their final layer of asphalt to be put down.
The large, single-family houses arranged close together on small lots range from just over 1,500 square feet to about 3,300 square feet. Children’s chalk doodles cover the sidewalks in front of several homes, and kids on bikes and tricycles weave their way down the sidewalks and occasionally into the street.
But those narrow streets are causing growing pains, as some Middletown Glen residents are petitioning the town of Middletown to reduce the speed limit on the streets within the community.
Even though the speed limit is 25 mph, it seems faster on the neighborhood’s streets, which sometimes have cars parked on them that further limit visibility, said Sean Mahar, a neighborhood resident.
His street at the back of the neighborhood, Ingalls Drive, is a particularly bad spot for speeding drivers, Mahar said.
“They just burn right through here,” he said.
All of the young families in the area whose children ride their bikes and play outside their homes make driving even more dangerous, he said.
“There [are] 50-plus kids in this neighborhood already,” Mahar said.
Coming from northern Virginia, Mahar said he appreciates the controlled development in Middletown, and emphasized that the town has been great to his wife, Katrina, and him since they moved there in December 2017.
Katrina Mahar said in an email Wednesday that residents have tried talking to neighbors and putting out their own signs, but the problem has persisted.
“We have so many elementary-aged kids that are constantly crossing the streets to get to the green space and riding their bikes or playing ball during the warm weather [that] the parents are starting to get worried,” she said.
The speeders are mostly residents or their guests from the newer parts of the neighborhood who might not know how many children are playing in the neighborhood, she said.
Since the Middletown Glen neighborhood is new, the town will have to look into the speeding issue, Town Administrator Drew Bowen said.
The issue is on the agenda for a town workshop Thursday.
Bowen expects the commissioners will ask him to talk to the sheriff’s deputies who cover the town about what types of speeds they see in the area, and to collect other information.
Bowen said the town will probably put out a sign that monitors speeds and the number of vehicles, in order to collect some data for the neighborhood.
When they do that, many times they find that drivers are actually driving below the posted limit, even though residents’ perceptions may be different.
Most roads in Middletown are posted at 25 mph, with none that are 15 mph, Bowen said. But that doesn’t mean the town couldn’t lower the speed limit if it wants to.
Katrina Mahar said that if the town doesn’t want to reduce the speed limit, the residents will ask for speed bumps or flashing signs to be put in to get the attention of drivers.
“I’m also all for [deputies] coming out, which is what the town said they would do while they are analyzing the speed limit in the neighborhood,” she said.