Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Update on Arlandria

The following is a written version of the remarks Capt Reyes presented last night to a neighborhood meeting. 

 

City of Alexandria, Virginia

 

MEMORANDUM

 

DATE: September 25, 2006

TO: Lenox Place at Sunnyside Association

FROM: Captain Eddie Reyes, Commander Arlandria Area

SUBJECT: Update on Arlandria

 

What I have discovered after reading almost all of the police reports that follows each violent offense in Arlandria is that alcohol is a contributing factor in almost every incident. Either the victim was intoxicated becoming an easy target and victim and/or the suspect was intoxicated. While increased police presence and enforcement efforts make a difference, I believe it is only a short-term solution, lasting only as long as the officers are on the street. My perception is that if the City is going to have a long-term impact on violent crime and sustain the increased quality of life in Arlandria, bilingual education on alcohol abuse is mandatory. There is currently no education on alcohol abuse and/or treatment located in Arlandria.

 

While the substance abuse program on Mill Road does an excellent job with the persons who attend that facility, most Arlandria residents who have visited this facility (voluntary or otherwise) have told me a language barrier exists between attendees and staff. Furthermore, since most Arlandria residents in need of this service do not drive, attending prevention classes is not likely.

 

On June 26 hosted a community meeting at St. Rita’s Parish Center which focused on dispelling fear in the community on immigration enforcement; identity theft prevention and providing the community with information on illegal lottery tickets commonly being sold in Arlandria. This meeting was hosted in collaboration with almost every City agency, some Arlandria organizations, the Consulate of Mexico and Father Donohue.

 

On July 31 I attended a meeting with City Manager Jim Hartmann, Ms. Janet Barnett from Recreation and Parks and Mr. Tom Fairchild, the City’s Business Facilitator at City Hall after three Arlandria business owners scheduled a meeting with Mr. Hartmann to discuss their displeasure with the Arlandria Festival (their chief complaint was the closing of Mount Vernon Ave. during the festival).  I have been coordinating meetings with Ms. Barnett, Mr. Neurohr and Sgt. Stafford Farmer-Lee to come up with a solution that most will be able to live with.

 

On August 22 at the Police Department’s Gang Prevention Meeting, information was shared which assisted in a search warrant and arrest of Octavio Maroquin at 3800 Executive #B-1 1 after information was received he was distributing cocaine. On Aug. 26, members of the Northern VA Regional Gang Task Force executed the search warrant and arrested Octavio Maroquin for felony probation and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Mr. Maroquin was the same individual arrested twice earlier this year for selling alcohol from his apartments (once in Presidential Greens and again on Four Mile Road.)’

 

I have been working with Community Lodgings and Bonnie Baxley, their Executive Director, at 607 Notabene Drive after receiving complaints that this building is the site of prostitution and overt drug activity at night.

 

I have been working with Mr. Joe Heller, owner of the Waffle Shop, La Feria Bakery and La Feria Grocery Store because this property is riddled with trash and has a trespassing problem with loiterers.

 

After receiving a complaint from an Arlington Co. resident who has a bird’s eye view of The Portals at 511 Four Mile Road, I met with the manager of The Portals of Alexandria (Beverly Donnell) to inform her I had received a complaint that homeless persons are sleeping on the grassy area there, urinating towards FMR with their genitals pointed at the town homes; littering; etc. During the site visit, I did notice evidence of squatters staying in that area (I found blankets and clothing). I asked Beverly to clean it up and have told her we’d keep a closer eye on the property.

 

Working with multiple City staff, I have completed a flier that provides City residents important information on abating the most common nuisance activity. This flier is being translated now into Spanish and will be available to all City agencies for distribution throughout the City. It is part of a campaign I will be calling “Education Before Enforcement”.

 

There have been multiple meetings with Planning and Zoning staff, including a community meeting on August 18 at the 24 Express Store regarding their upcoming SUP hearing before City Council in October.

 

I have been networking with the Arlandria Clinics (two on Executive Ave. / one on Glebe and Commonwealth Aye) to implement a soccer clinic for obese children that are clients of the clinics. I also assisted them with a day of free physicals for indigent children in preparation for the new school year.

 

I have been attending meetings being sponsored by the Tenants and Workers Support Committee and various City agencies that are part of the Arlandria Health Fair, which was held on Saturday, September 12 at Cora Kelly from 1000 to 1400.

 

I attend the last homeowner’s association meeting held by Lenox Place Homeowners Association. During that meeting Mr. Bill Dearman, Executive Director of ARHA, was there to talk about the future of the Glebe Park properties in the 800 block of W. Glebe Road and the 3900 block of Old Dominion Blvd. I attended the meeting to discuss the lack of lighting at Le Bosquet Park and on the corner of Old Dominion and Notabene. I have since started working with Roger Blakeley and John Noelle from the City’s Recreation and Parks Department and Emily Baker from our public works department to resolve these lighting issues.

 

On September City staff from the Recreation and Parks Department hosted a community meeting at Four Mile Run Park where they unveiled the plans for the new field. This includes $30,000 in current new turf and $20,000 in upcoming upgrades, which includes a new permanent fence around the new turf to protect it; new lighting; a gravel track around the field; bleachers and new trash receptacles.

 

I have also been working with the Alexandria Health Department (Patricia Ferrao and Holly Feitner) to conduct outreach and education in Arlandria on West Nile Virus. This includes making repellant and literature in bilingual language available to indigent and homeless individuals. The City Sign Shop is currently completing signs in bilingual language to be posted in Four Mile Run Park, especially in the preserved area where a large number of homeless individuals sleep at night, warning them of this danger.

 

Working with Liz Wixson, Director of Acute and Emergency Services at the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse, City staff is planning a formal education campaign on Pandemic Flu, which will include a community meeting sometime in November. I am part of the Communication and Outreach Subcommittee, which will be working to network with every association and organization in the City to “train the trainer”. The hope is that these individuals will return to their organization and spread the training they received at the community meeting.

 

The Alexandria Human Services Department (Nelson Smith) asked that I assist a team of homeless outreach specialists who are focusing on identifying some of the homeless individuals in Arlandria. On September 8, we completed a site visit to some known homeless sites / camps: the wooded and preserved area in Four Mile Run Park and under the bridge on W. Glebe Road at Four Mile Run.

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