Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Robbery, New Park, Four Corners

Surveillance Photos of Robbery Suspect Released
Still No Named Suspects in Armed Robbery

Arlington County Police have released four photos taken from a surveillance camera at the Popeye’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits on Pershing Drive. The restaurant was robbed at gunpoint last Tuesday.

Detective Steve Gomez of the ACP said, “He’s probably a local guy” and that the police are hoping the pictures will jog someone’s memory. As yet the police haven’t gotten a name of who the attacker might be, he said.

Assistant Manager Salman Ali was hit in the head with the butt of the gun before the attacker left with hundreds of dollars. K-9 police dogs followed his trail down North Thomas Street before the trail was lost.

The police describe the suspect as a black male, six feet tall, with short hair and a neatly trimmed beard, last seen wearing a long white shirt, blue jeans, a black jacket, tan work boots, and a blue baseball cap with a “B.”

Look for another update once the ACP post the photos to their web site at a higher quality than can be done here.

A Park of Its Own

As I type this, I’m surprised at how right Walter Tejada was. At the dedication of the newest park in Arlington, the county board member said that most people driving by wouldn’t even notice this park, but that it would be a little haven for people in the neighborhood.

The Buckingham Plaza sits at the corner of Henderson and George Mason Drive, directly across the street from Barrett Elementary School; I’m guessing many of the readers have driven by it and haven’t given it a second thought as its gone from an overgrown field into a small neighborhood park.

It’s not even half-an-acre large, has but two benches, and a sidewalk that curves through it. The grass is still coming in, and the bushes look new, as though they’re surprised to find themselves somewhere other than the nursery. It’s anchored by an enormous tree in the middle.

During the dedication ceremony, I sat at one of the benches as the cars drove up and down George Mason or cut through to Arlington Boulevard on Henderson, and I knew then that Mr. Tejada was right—no one really would notice unless they had reason to be walking on that corner. And even many people who were walking to Barrett Elementary for Back to School Night seemed surprised to find the park completed.

“Buckingham now has a park that it can call its own,” said Pat Hope, president of the Buckingham Community Civic Association.

After him, three county board members, and one person from the school board spoke. Two years in the making and gone was the wrangling over whether the neighborhood could have the space; until this year, the space was an overgrown corner controlled by the school board. Gone was the discussion of how the place would be maintained; at first the county didn’t want to do it and when the BCCA said they would find people to empty the trash cans and mow the lawn, the county said that wasn’t possible either.

We were left with speeches about community and how happy everyone was that the park was finished on a cool, gorgeous night, with a deep blue sky, little wind and no humidity. It was a wonderful evening; I just wish more people from Buckingham had come out to see it. We were, as often happens at these neighborhood events, outnumbered by the county staff.

Though almost everyone had left, including the county staff and politicians, a few of us Buckinghamsters couldn’t call it a day until we were sure the Carlyle lights came on. (Thank God they worked.)

Construction Project on Glebe

With any luck, the commute on Glebe Road will be a little worse the week after next.

By then, with luck, crews will have finished underground conduits that will hold utility wires currently running from pole-to-pole above ground. If the conduits are finished, utility companies can roll out huge spools of cable and fill the underground spaces. That progress will, however, slow traffic.

This will be a major change to the corner in a project five years in the making, a job William “Bill” Roberts, a county project manager, calls the worst of the 30-odd jobs he’s worked on in Arlington. Too many interests have to be considered—cantankerous land owners, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and utility companies, he said.

The plan is that once the cables are underground, the utility poles will come down, but that probably won’t happen until next spring. First, utilities can’t be forced to remove the poles quickly, and second, some power lines must remain above ground as the corner is worked on.

Mr. Roberts said he knows it doesn’t look like much happens on the project, “But we’re working on it everyday.”

He said today that he was working on securing easements for the new sidewalks. The plans for the corner will go through final evaluations with the county and VDOT over the fall and winter and major reconstruction begins in the spring.

The undergrounding of the cables was originally scheduled for last year. Mr. Roberts admitted that delays have been the norm for this project.

Glad the Buckingham park is completed! Maybe someday they'll finish the park at N. Quincy & 5th Road, it's been in progress for at least the two and a half years I've lived there.

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