Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Gates' Center; Watch for Bham's Blue-Hooded Thief

Gates’ New Community Center
AHC Inc. is “pulling permits” and has drawn plans to build a 10,000 square foot community center in a rear courtyard of the Gates of Ballston Apartments complex on N. Glebe Road.
Current plans for the building show the apartment management offices, a fitness room, a pre-school, meeting rooms, other offices, and a large community room with a patio, a fireplace and small kitchen.
It will replace the Community Center currently located in a couple apartments at N. 3rd Road. AHC said the project will take up to two years to complete.
The original plan was to renovate the small single-family house on 374 N. Glebe Rd., where the contractors on the Gates of Ballston renovation project are located. However, in a recent walking tour of the property, Christopher Donald, the project manager for AHC, said for historic reasons that building was “sacred” and won’t be renovated. The plan for now is to do nothing with it, he wrote in an email.
The new center will be built behind that house.
All of the programs offered for free at the current site will continue for free at the new site, Mr. Donald said. At the center, people learn English, write resumes, or get help with healthcare and housing, along with other programs for adults and children.
The policies for how to use the building, especially the community room, haven’t been planned yet, Mr. Donald said. This has Lois Athey, a housing advocate with the Buckingham Villages-Gates of Ballston Tenants Association, concerned.
She wants to make sure that the tenants have a say in how the center is operated: for instance, who has access to the rooms and how much the rooms will cost to rent. BU-GATA will have an office in the new building.
Mr. Donald said he didn’t know at this point whether or not the community will be invited to speak about the rooms’ use. However, David Cristeal, in the county’s Department of Housing, said, “I guess it’s been our expectation that there would be a conversation about that use.”

[This is the architect's current rendering of the front of Gates of Ballston's planned community center.]

[The 10,000 square foot building includes a large community room (the left wing of the building) with a patio and fireplace.]

Police Notes for Buckingham
Feb. 6: Robbery by Force, 4400 block of N. Pershing Dr.
At approximately 6:10 a.m. a woman was walking west on N. Pershing Drive when a man walking in the opposite direction grabbed her purse. The suspect pushed the victim and ran away. The victim fell to the ground but was uninjured. The suspect was described as a 6’0” tall male, unknown race and age, wearing a blue hooded jacket and black pants. His face was partially covered with a scarf or mask.

My take: I’ve got a call into Det. Steve Gomez in the Arlington County Police Department just to ask if they’re seeing a trend here because I sure am. This is the second time in two weeks that this has happened. I posted this a week ago:

Jan. 27:
Robbery by Force, N. Thomas Street.At approximately 7:40 a.m. a woman was walking down the street when an individual pushed her to the ground and took her purse, police reported. The suspect was wearing a blue hooded jacket and blue jeans.

It’s like déjà vu all over again. It wouldn’t hurt to have a cop swing by the neighborhood at the start of rush hour. I’ll be asking them what’s going on with this, and of course, I’ll keep you posted.


The Boulevard Burglar
Police are asking for help in catching whoever has committed a number of burglaries and break-ins along the Arlington Boulevard corridor. The police reported in a news release that they have seen a trend in these break-ins over the course of months. As many as 16 have occurred over the past week, according to police reports.

The burglar has broken through the rear door of the house in all but one case where he or she broke the front. Electronic equipment, cash and jewelry has been taken, but no one has been seen, police said.

Advice from police for protecting yourself:
  • Immediately report suspicious persons in your neighborhood, especially if they are seen in the backyards. Call the police (703) 558-2222.
  • Secure your home, and if you have an alarm system activate it, even during the daytime.
  • Watch your neighbor’s home and ask them to keep an eye on your home.
  • If you think you are observing a burglary in progress call 911.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact Officer Roger Estes 703-228-4180 or

Get Connectioned—Help Buckingham Get the News Faster…
The Arlington Connection has been arriving at my mailbox about a week later than it should be, and the powers that be at the Connection tell me the best way to fix this (so it works better with the post office) is to get just a handful more people taking the Connection.

So, if you’re reading this, and you live in Zip Code 22203, sign up for the Arlington Connection newspaper—it’s free; just call 703-917-6465. Plus, you get to read me every other week; what’s cooler than that?

By the way, if you’re interested, my last two columns (which I don’t think I mentioned on this site) are:
Public Comment? Not Now, Thank You; and Should County Board be Paid More? (By the way, they gave themselves a raise—it just doesn’t take effect for awhile.)


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