Womsetta Drive in south Arlington is a pretty good place to live, just ask the neighbors. But don’t ask them on a school day.
“It's pretty good until school is in session and then that changes the situation,” said Ruth Crosby, who has lived on Womsetta Drive for more than 20 years.
Crosby is not alone in her sentiments and they’re the result of some students at neighboring Bowie High School. When school is let out, many students cut through this community on their way somewhere else.
But neighbors say the students are not just merely passing through.
“We had to call the police to break up fights before, there’s trash all over the place, from when they go to the restaurants [during lunch periods] and they throw all their fast food bags all over the place. Once we had kids trying to burn fires in the middle of the road. We've also found drug paraphernalia in our yard,” said Teresa Gann a 10-year resident of Womsetta Drive.
Gann’s neighbor, Ruth Crosby says she’s seen it all.
“You name it, we’ve seen it – everything from dealing drugs to putting food in mailboxes, to actually driving across lawns, to fights, horrendous fights,” said Crosby.
Neighbors say it's not just the foot traffic, but speeding and parked cars. Parking was such an issue they lobbied for and eventually received “no parking” signs that line neighborhood streets. The signs forbid any parking in the street from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on school days.
“We have to do this to prevent the kids from blocking our mailboxes - preventing mail, from blocking our driveways,” said Crosby.
That has also meant that that homeowners can't park in the street, which Crosby admits has proved to be a bit of an inconvenience, but it’s a price they're willing to pay.
Homeowners looking for help have reached out to everyone from police and their city council representative Robert Rivera – who has been actively involved in the process, even holding several town hall-style meetings on the issue – to the school and even some students.
“We do an event every semester called ‘Bowie Gives Back’ where students actually go out and pick up trash in the neighborhood and that's completely voluntary,” said Amy Casas, spokesperson for the Arlington Independent School District.
Neighbors admit that they have seen improvements recently.
“We see more patrols through the neighborhood during school hours, school security and Arlington police are actually sitting out front here watching students leave for lunch and return,” said Crosby.
While things improve, neighbors know that it only takes a few.
“I think it's just a few bad apples, I don't think it's all the kids,” said Crosby. “When a group of kids gets together it can get out of hand.”
Casas pointed out that those few “bad apples” are “definitely not reflective of the school and of what the majority of the students there on that campus do.”