A group of Prince George's County officials took a stroll along "crack alley" yesterday, and discovered it was everything it was said to be.
County Executive Parris Glendening took police leaders, federal housing officials and owners on an hourlong tour of Glenarden Apartments, a complex near Landover Mall that police describe as an open-air drug market.
During the tour, arranged to draw attention to problems at the 50-building complex, police Cpl. Frederick Nugent handed Glendening a sealed plastic bag dropped moments before by two teen-aged girls who saw a police patrol car approaching.
Holding the bag, which officers said contained $50 worth of the rock form of cocaine known as crack, Glendening said, "This may seem strange, but I've never seen anything like this."
The county executive promised to "eliminate the environment" that caters to drug sales and violence, calling the conditions at the apartments "unacceptable" for the 2,500 residents.
Six persons have been slain in the complex on Brightseat Road in seven months, but recent police patrols and public pressure have silenced some of the gunfire. It's business as usual for drug dealers, however, in an area of the 592-unit apartment complex that officers have come to call "crack alley."
Police described the area as an open-air market for drug buyers and sellers and said that on Friday night they had confiscated $12,000 worth of crack that was dropped by two men as they were chased by police through the complex.
In an apartment building where crack houses operate, the officials entered a three-bedroom apartment and were met by the stench of backed-up plumbing, the door had no locks and the door frame was broken. Two adults and two children lived there.
A representative of the complex owners, William H. Harrison, executive vice president of National Investment Development Corp. of Los Angeles, said he had visited the complex 18 months ago and said he was "appalled at what has happened in the last year and a half."
Harrison said his company would work toward a solution, make repairs and consider the possibility of demolishing one of every three buildings.
Glendening had brought together the owners; I. Margaret White, regional manager for the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Lynda G. Given, director of the Department of Housing and Community Development of Prince George's County, and Glenarden Mayor James C. Fletcher Jr.
"The drug problem here got critical when Marion Barry cracked down in D.C., in my opinion," Fletcher said. "But it's really encouraging that Glendening got involved at this point."