BOWIE – Merchants in Old Bowie are pushing to have National Night Out in their part of the community and not just at Allen Pond Park.
At a meeting on July 7, the merchants met with city Councilman James Marcos to discuss having the event in a park located at the center of the Old Bowie community.
Terri Russell, owner of Simple Pleasures Ice Café, said there is a misconception that there is a lot of crime in Bowie, and that by hosting National Night Out in Old Bowie it would encourage the community in that part of the city to come together.
“Our goal is to make sure the people in Old Bowie do not feel left out and forgotten,” Russell said. “Every event is held in Allen Pond Park, but it is time for people to see that Old Bowie exists too.”
Terri’s husband, Rodney Russell, chair of the Old Town Bowie Unification Association, said that the outbreak of violence in the community does not make Bowie a bad town.
“Just because that particular family committed an act of violence does not mean we should not lift up the community at this time,” Rodney said.
Marcos said his only concern about Bowie having two separate National Night Out events is that it could divide the city since the event is traditionally hosted at Allen Pond Park.
“Next week I will sit down with the city manager because our only concern is dividing Bowie up. The event is always done at Allen Pond Park but I don’t think it will affect the city negatively,” Marcos said. “The citizens are making a stand for their community and they want to take it back.”
While the merchants understand that Allen Pond Park can accommodate more parking and space to hold a surplus of attendees. However, they suggested a National Night Out Walk to Marcos so that people can see the businesses all over the city.
“Then the focus will be in multiple areas of Bowie as opposed to only the other side of town,” Rodney said.
There are merchants whose businesses have been located in Old Bowie for many years and are apart of the city’s history.
“For example, my ice café and ice cream shop is the only place in this city that sells homemade ice cream. Old Bowie also has florists, antique shops, a deli and most of these businesses need a lot of promotion,” Terri said.
Carmina Reynolds, owner of the Pink Orchard, said the community needs a lot of help with beautification, but getting the ear of the council is a step in the right direction.
“There should be more flowers, bushes, and signs in Old Bowie. We want it to look more welcoming on this side of town as well,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds also said she would like to see Bowie sponsor holiday festivals in Old Bowie and not just have the lighting ceremony in the Bowie Town Center.
Old Bowie just received approval for a sign to be put on the main highway directing visitors to its location. “If you are not living in Bowie then you don’t know there is a great community with a lot to offer on this side of town,” Terri said.
Mike Keller, owner of Keller’s Antiques, has lived in Bowie for 25 years and said he has seen drastic changes in the community since it first began.
“According to the city manager David Deutsch there’s no difference between Old Bowie and South Bowie. Residents as well as the city police department want the crime rate to decrease so that the businesses and community in Old Bowie can prosper.”
Keller said that he hopes that the changes in the National Night Out event promote Bowie as a whole.
Marcos said he plans to bring the topic to the rest of the city council this week.