Sen. Chris Van Hollen visited one of the newly built developments in Suitland, Maryland, on Thursday to present a huge check for $2.5 million to refurbish Suitland Road.
The Maryland senator helped allocate the federal money to begin construction next year of bicycle lanes, sidewalks and trees along the state road that connects to the District of Columbia border.
“It’s necessary. The street has become busier,” said Edward Young, a recruiter for the U.S. Postal Service at L’Enfant Plaza in southwest D.C. who moved into his townhouse in 2019. “We see a lot of money going into different places. We have a diverse community over here and they brought their money here to invest into the community.”
Young and his neighbors rave about the camaraderie with each other and appreciate the federal dollars to spruce up a road that also runs alongside the U.S. Census Bureau across the street, but they’re also concerned for their safety.
Andrea Johnson, who moved into her townhouse in August and leads the Villages at Towne Square Neighborhood Watch, plans to present her views Thursday night at a community conversation on crime at Creative Suitland. Two of the main Prince George’s County leaders plan to be present: County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Police Chief Malik Aziz.
“I don’t feel good walking out of my home,” said Harrison, who has two children ages 3 and 7. “I definitely don’t feel safe for them running around on their own. I’ve had neighbors whose packages have been stolen [outside] their homes. Just quality of life issues that need to be addressed.”
One of the topics slated for discussion is carjackings. So far this year, about 132 have been reported with 54 arrests — 37 juveniles and 17 adults.
An incident the police chief called a “sick and disturbing” act took place March 29 in Capitol Heights when a senior citizen came home and was attacked by four individuals. Police released video of the attack on April 7, but no arrests have been made yet.
The same day video became public, police issued a $25,000 reward for the arrest and indictment of a person who shot and killed 29-year-old Saquan Burnett of Suitland. Police found Burnett shot inside a vehicle on the 3500 block of Silver Park Drive in Suitland.
County and police officials pushed to transform Suitland, known for its reputation as one of the most crime-ridden areas in the county.
But residents such as Ella Lundy relocated from Tysons Corner, Virginia, to the vibrant $400 million Towne Square at Suitland Federal Center development that continues construction to add several businesses such as a hotel and a performing arts center to run programs in conjunction with Suitland High School less than a mile away.
In addition, some residents 62 years and older already moved into a six-story senior building on the 30-acre property called The Lewis.
The development represents the first fiber-to-the-home community and first 5G-ready neighborhoods in the D.C. region. This means the complex will have fiber optic cable with stronger broadband and technology services.
Lundy purchased her townhouse in December 2020 due to the more affordable prices in Maryland compared to houses in Northern Virginia. She also wanted to be closer to D.C. for her job as an auditor for the federal government.
“I make sure that I go out before the sun goes down because that’s when I feel the safest,” she said. “Suitland has a lot of potential. As long as there’s a presence and everyone is on the same page, Suitland can become a desirable community to live in, in the daytime and at night.”