Green Valley resident Ulysses Perry believes his South Arlington community is being hit by a double-whammy of disrespect:
• From drivers who disregard traffic rules in their attempts to find limited on-street parking in the community while headed to attend services at a mosque located in the neighborhood.
• And from the county government, which to date appears to have been long on commiseration but short on action in addressing a problem that has festered for several years.
“It’s not right for people to leave their cars double-parked in the street, block the driveways of homeowners, park in our driveways and sometimes leave cars running in the middle of the street,” Perry told County Board members on April 22, the second month in a row he used the board’s public-comment period to highlight the issue.
In March, he felt he had received a promise to address the situation, but no one followed up with him, Perry – who lives just down the street from the Bangladeshi Islamic Center – told County Board members.
“What do I have to do to get the county to respond?” he asked.
Top Arlington officials said the matter remained on their radar screen.
“I apologize if we dropped the ball [on follow-up],” County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey told Perry before handing the hot potato over to County Manager Mark Schwartz.
Schwartz tossed it to Ben Akin, a staffer responsible for community engagement, who said the South Nelson Street mosque was working through the process of county-government approval for an adjacent parking lot that would come “hopefully soon.”
“That is the long-term solution,” Akin said of the parking lot, adding that he believes leadership of the Islamic center is working in good faith to address existing concerns in the interim.
The mosque has hired personnel to augment volunteers helping those attending services to find legal parking close by. But the efforts apparently are not enough, as the Green Valley neighborhood is faced with congestion issues during Friday prayer services and the Islamic faith’s holiday periods.
One proposal floated over the past few weeks was to provide off-site parking and a shuttle service, but to do so on short notice was “logistically not possible at this point,” County Board member Takis Karantonis said at the meeting.
County Board member Libby Garvey said neighboring residents have reason to be irked with the inconvenience they are experiencing. As important, she said, a parking free-for-all can be dangerous.
“These can have really dire circumstances,” Garvey said, directing her comments to the county manager. “What are you supposed to do if it’s an emergency . . . and you can’t leave your house?”
Schwartz suggested that if it truly was an emergency situation, residents should call 9-1-1. If there were non-life-endangering issues, residents should call the police department’s non-emergency number.
“We can’t be everywhere at once, but we’re trying to do our part,” he said of enforcement efforts.