NEW CHEVERLY CHIEF OF POLICE COLONEL BUDDY ROBSHAW: At the July Town Meeting, I had the pleasure of officially swearing in Cheverly’s new Chief of Police, Colonel Harry (Buddy) Robshaw. I say officially because Buddy, (I have promised not to call him Harry) has been the acting Chief since June 11th, including managing the department during the Cheverly Day festivities. The entire Town Council, Town Administrator David Warrington, Director of Public Works Juan Torres, Town Treasurer Susann Rosnick and a number of residents also welcomed Colonel Robshaw,
his wife Cindy and his sons Mark & Jason at a small reception prior to the meeting. Cheverly Police Officer Cedric Whitaker representing Cheverly’s police officers, spoke briefly and warmly welcomed the Chief. Colonel Robshaw talked about growing up near Cheverly and working for many years as a County officer in this district. He gave an in-depth report on some of the issues facing the Town and his department and outlined some of the programs and initiatives he plans for the future, including the anti-burglary program that he will be presenting to the Council, ideas to reduce speeding in town, establishing a citizen advisory committee to assist his department in considering options for non-lethal weapons use by the department, among other ideas.
When former Chief Jeffrey Krauss chose not to accept the Town’s proffered contract extension, having decided to go into the private sector, the Council and I immediately asked Colonel Robshaw to take over command of the department. He was absolutely our first and only choice for the job. Having run the day-to-day operations of the department for the past 4 years, Buddy knows the Town and knows the issues and has the complete confidence of the Council, the Cheverly officers and myself. In addition, he has 28 years of experience with the Prince George’s Police Department, many with the narcotics division. When I was in Ocean City for the Maryland Municipal League Meeting, New Carrollton Mayor Andy Hanko, congratulated the Town and had high praise for Buddy, having worked with him for years when Buddy was with the
County Police Department.
So, watch for Chief Robshaw’s column in the newsletter, stop him and introduce yourself as he drives around town or drop by the Community Center to congratulate him on his new position.
WAL-MART: In last month’s FYI, I printed a draft resolution, which had been introduced at the June 23rd Worksession concerning the proposed 142,000 square-foot Wal-Mart store at the Capitol Plaza Mall. While the issue of Wal-Mart building at Capitol Plaza had been discussed at great length for 3 televised Town meetings and at least as many Worksessions, it was not until the resolution appeared in the newsletter that many Town residents were aware of the discussion. Many residents came out to voice their concerns, opposition or support of Wal-Mart coming to Capitol Plaza, and opinions varied widely, reflecting much of what Council has been hearing for the past 4 months.
The proposed resolution is based on several concessions or agreements that Wal-Mart representatives have made verbally to Council at our meetings such as no firearms of any kind and no liquor sold at this location, sufficient security and lighting in the parking lots, operating for less than 24 hours each day, etc. The resolution also includes a number of issues that have been discussed but not yet formally agreed to by Wal-Mart concerning community standards and consulting with the Town on the exterior design of the building. Council feels that before any resolution in support of Wal-Mart at Capitol Plaza could be passed, we would need these agreements in writing. The Town has received a letter from Wal-Mart stating that there will be no liquor or firearms at this location. Had we received written assurances on all the issues
outlined in the resolution, I believe the resolution would have passed unanimously.
The resolution was tabled by a 4-2 vote with the majority view that it was better to withhold the Town’s support until we had received assurances in writing on all the outstanding issues, rather than pass a resolution that was contingent on receiving Wal-Mart’s written agreement. Also, we had previously requested, and been promised, artist renderings of what the store would look like and only received those plans moments before the meeting. Councilmembers Oslik and Watson’s position was that this had been discussed long enough and Council should have its position on record. This will be back on the agenda at the August televised Town Meeting---for the final time.
I believe that after numerous discussions with Wal-Mart as well as the owner and developer of the mall, Randall Levitt of the Nellis Corporation, there is only one outstanding issue that may be difficult to resolve---the actual exterior design of the store and Wal-Mart’s willingness to work with the Town to achieve an appropriate design that will enhance the community and be a catalyst for redevelopment of the entire shopping center. Wal-Mart’s representative had previously assured Council that we would be very pleased with the design and they would keep us “informed” of their design plans. I feel that I speak for the entire Council when I say that there is no one on Council who can or will support the proposed design. We will be forwarding the design to the Cheverly Planning Board for their review
and input, and my expectation is that they will be recommending that Council oppose the design. Wal-Mart has already applied for and received the necessary permits based on these plans and insists that any changes will result in significant delay in the planned construction, which could begin in early 2006. County Councilmember David Harrington has pledged his support of the Town’s position and said he will stay involved so that the Town will get a Wal-Mart that benefits the community without delaying the building of the store.
As I said in last month’s FYI, while there is disagreement over Wal-Mart, I believe there is unanimity on the Council and in the entire Cheverly community for the speedy redevelopment of Capitol Plaza Mall. We have met repeatedly with Randall Levitt of the Nellis Corporation and we have forged a terrific working relationship with him that, I believe, will assist him in his efforts to revitalize the mall and bring improved retail to the residents of Cheverly and surrounding towns.
Again, this will be up for final vote at the August Town Meeting.