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Relief after arson arrest, but it’s not over yet

News of the arrest of a person of interest in the Greenwood arsons brought a sense of relief this morning to many, including business owners affected by the arsonist. But, officials caution that the man arrested this morning is still considered a “person of interest,” and has not been charged.
Bill Clements, owner of Rosewood Guitar at 8402 Greenwood Ave. N., which was burned on Nov.5, said this morning of the arrest, “I think it’s good news for the community, that hopefully this will come to an end. It’s too bad that another fire had to happen. Hopefully we’ll be able to put this behind us.”
Rosewood had originally hoped to reopen on Nov. 20, but Clements said that is unlikely. “The more we get into it, the more there is to do. We’re probably three to four weeks out now. The restoration company is the same company that’s working on the Taproot Theatre, and they’re working as hard as they can.”
Clements said Cobblestone Furniture next door has set aside space for Rosewood’s teachers to continue teaching guitar lessons. “Their generosity has really been appreciated and helped keep our teachers in business,” he said.
Clements said he hopes this morning’s arrest puts an end to the feeling of fear and tension in the neighborhood.
“You see people walking and you look at their face… and you can tell people are really edgy. I’m really anxious for this to go away, for people to enjoy Greenwood again and relax,” Clements said. “It’s not just me, it’s everybody.”
Scott Nolte, producing artistic director of Taproot Theatre at 204 N. 85th St., which was heavily damaged in the Oct. 23 arson that destroyed four neighboring businesses, had just heard the news from a relative when I called him this morning.
“It would sure be nice if this puts a stop to it all,” Nolte said. “I hope it puts an end to it all. It would certainly let people start sleeping, and let the business people put it aside and concentrate on letting the neighborhood get rebuilt, instead of nightly patrols.”
Dr. Randy L. Rowland of Sanctuary Church, which owned the Green Bean Coffeehouse, which was destroyed Oct. 23, was having coffee at the Greenwood Sip & Ship (which is letting Green Bean take over their coffee operations temporarily) when I called him this morning. “If indeed the person of interest turns out to be the person who started the fire, there are a whole lot of people here who will rest a whole lot better at night,” Rowland said. “Clearly this is a person who has significant difficulties. There’s miles to go on this. We don’t know if this is the guy. It may take through the weekend.”
Steve Giliberto, president of the Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the arrest.
“I say cautiously because I don’t believe we should pull our eye off the ball and become complacent with this, because until someone’s arrested officially and charged, we need to stay the course. It’s not time to let our guard down yet,” Giliberto said. “If we don’t learn as a neighborhood, or any neighborhood didn’t learn from an experience like this, that all of the commen sense things … that all the police and fire officials have urged us to stay focused on every day of every week of every month of the year, then we really haven’t learned our lesson and we leave ourselves open to be victimized again.”