I need your help. Please read this carefully and take action to stop this outrage.
On September 14, sixteen year old John DeReggi Jr. was killed in Boyds, Maryland by an Amtrak train going 78 MPH – which did not sound its horn. John and his girlfriend Natalie were having their picture taken for a school project. I never met John John, but the day before the accident, his grandmother spent an hour telling me what a great kid he was, and how much everyone loved him.
John John grew up in this spectacular Victorian house across the street from the train station.
It is an historic home, owned by Scotsman Colonel James Boyd in the 19th century. He built the B&O railroad (which you probably remember from Monopoly) and much of the history of the region.
He bought 130 acres in what is now Boyds, Maryland as a camp for men working on the line, many of whom were former slaves.
Letters tell that Boyd so liked the area that he bought an additional 1100 acres for himself. When the Presbyterian Church was built in 1876, the community of Boyds was established.
He died in Boyds in 1896, a day short of his 73rd birthday. The Rockville Advocate in 1890 wrote: “Nothing could better illustrate the influence of one intelligent, enterprising and public-spirited man in a community than the complete revolution in the entire order of things wrought by Col. Boyd”
But the house didn’t always look like this. The property is actually owned by the people of Maryland, and was badly mismanaged by the Montgomery County Parks Department. Twenty years ago, they were renting the house to employees who had let it fall into disgraceful disrepair, as seen in the pictures below.
The Parks Department called on citizens to help them out, and John John’s grandmother Marilyn, his father John (a licensed builder) and the rest of the family answered the call with a proposal to restore and maintain the historic property at the family’s expense.
Marilyn Boyd DeReggi is a long-time cultural icon in the region, and has been actively involved in the historical preservation of the county. She served as a commissioner on the Montgomery County Preservation Commission, served on the Boyds Master Plan Advisory Committee, and served on the advisory committee which led to the creation of Little Seneca Lake and Black Hills Regional Park.
On June 28, 1994 – the DeReggi’s were awarded a twenty year lease to restore the property and turn it into a bed and breakfast and cultural center for the community. The lease was specified to be renewable based on the satisfactory nature of the work completed.
John and Marilyn’s work went far beyond the requirements of the contract. They put about one million dollars worth of materials and labor into restoring the house, and turned the dilapidated home into the gem of Boyds.
Two years ago, Marilyn met with the Parks Department to discuss renewal of the twenty year lease. They told her to go ahead with plans to turn the home into a B&B and cultural center. The Parks Department agreed to investigate what permits would be required – something they failed to follow up with.
So John and his grown family moved out, and Marilyn moved in and spent another $100,000 preparing the house to be a B&B/arts center, assuming that the lease would be renewed as promised. The house is breathtaking. It is in museum grade condition.
But in May everything suddenly changed. Someone at the Parks Department started trying to evict Marilyn, based on nonsensical claims that she was missing permits for activities which the Parks Department never specified, and for events she hadn’t even planned yet. (She can’t obtain permits for non-specific hypothetical future activities, and this was never a condition for renewal.) The claim from this Parks Department employee was absurd, and was an obvious attempt to confiscate the house without any cause.
So in June, Marilyn met with the wayward employee’s supervisor at the Parks Department to discuss the lease. He told her to carry on with what she was doing, and that he would take care of it – which is what she did.
Then tragedy hit on September 14. Following the death of her beloved grandson, Marilyn (who is 74 years old and a stage 4 cancer survivor) fell very ill and spent the next six weeks in the hospital with pneumonia, kidney stones, blood poisoning, and a heart arrhythmia. She nearly died.
On the day she returned home from the hospital last week, Marilyn received an eviction notice from the Parks Department, She is a very strong woman, but looked completely broken after that letter arrived.
Someone at the County Parks Department wants to return the property to the status it was in twenty years ago, when they completely mismanaged it. Usurping the conditions of the agreement they made with Marilyn and John – which were the primary motivation for Marilyn and John to sink so much money and work into the house. And they want Marilyn (who is still quite ill) to move out tomorrow.
The new lease terms are short and would not permit any of the activities which Marilyn and the Parks Department agreed to twenty years ago, and which are Marilyn’s primary focus these days. Basically, the Parks Department is attempting to confiscate nearly a million dollars worth of improvements from two private citizens. Their behavior is senseless and unethical. This sort of thing should never happen in the United States of America.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated
Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights
Please help. The Parks Department is demanding that Marilyn move out tomorrow.