The Ghent Neglect-A-Hood League

"Preservation and Promotion of Historic Ghent"


Later, the GNL would renovate its website and domain name, including changing its website masthead to this, a photo of a roofline swatch of Fairfax Avenue instead Mowbray Arch as seen from the old bridge (now if only they'd fix those faulty links on the website, including the contact link):



Why diss the venerable GNL?

Let's start with the fact that the Ghent Neighborhood League has a membership of fewer than 200 people, while the Ghent neighborhood has a population of over 5,000. What does that tell you about the perceived relevance of the GNL — both to the Norfolk City Government, which accords the GNL the honor of speaking for Ghent, and to the 96%+ of the people of Ghent who have not bothered to join the GNL?

Then, too, there's the GNL's less-than-serious, and less-than-accurate, mottos: "Preservation and promotion of historic Ghent" and "Advocates for the conservation and promotion of the Historic Character of Ghent."

Consider these lofty mottos in the light of the following:


A remarkable example of house neglect...

Maybe this is someone's idea of an artistic statement, or maybe it is exactly what it looks like, a house in serious disrepair, and right in the heart of historic Ghent, less than a block from the Chrysler Museum.

Certainly seems like something the vaunted GNL — those "Advocates for the conservation and promotion of the Historic Character of Ghent"— should never have allowed to get this far gone. According to Norfolk's real estate assessment website, this 9-bedroom 3-bath, partially-finished-attic, 3,257 square-foot house was built in 1900 with "very good" quality construction:


Note to City inspector: roof, dormer, gutters...


A year later (January, 2017) and the neglected rear dormer in the photo above has literally fallen into more disrepair:


April, 2017 — so much for that dormer:


Neglect of the bridge over The Hague

Now take, for example, the GNL's "preservation and conservation" efforts (or serious lack thereof) in behalf of the Hague footbridge, the iconic entry to the historic Ghent neighborhood — please! Take them and file them deep in the annals of feckless foolishness, preferably never to be witnessed by reasonable citizens again.

Just walk out onto the old bridge and look at its handrails. There's nothing historic or beautiful about that mess of gaudy, rusting padlocks staring you in the face. The "beauty" of this travesty is only in the eyes of those who seriously consider such graffiti and vandalism legitimate expressions of "love" — a self-absorbed (think self-ish) squatting kind of love, that is, that can only properly be expressed by tagging and trashing a bridge. It's certainly not love for the old bridge or the people who see it every day. If you love someone, really love them, and you feel that love itself isn't enouigh for you, that you also need to display some sort of outward tangible proof of it, surely you can do better than a soredid display like this:


One of the best critiques of the locks yet


The bridge before the love lock blight:

And where was the GNL — the valiant preserver of historic Ghent — when all these rusting padlocks accummulated on the bridge? It's embarrassing to report, but the vaunted GNL seems to have been cowering, knuckling under to the emotional blackmail of the love lock lemmings who couldn't care less about how the old bridge looks, as long as they get to express their love with a cheap, rusting padlock.

Now though, concerned citizens (not affiliated with the GNL) hsve begun removing the locks themselves, so the number of locks has dwindled considerably — in fact, from an estimated high of around 2,000 to something under 100! So, like, who needs the ineffectual GNL?


GNL not always so trifling...

Back in the 1970s, the heroic Ghent Neighborhood League actually supported saving the Hague bridge from extinction, after which the old, formerly vehicular bridge was replaced with a smaller pedestrian bridge that maintained the style of the older bridge and even incorporated parts from it.

But now...? The GNL should be ashamed of itself! It won't lift a finger to sve the bridge from being defaced. It has even been pointed out to the GNL that those jagged, rusty locks jutting from the handrails are a hazard, particularly to kids zooming by on bikes, yet the GNL turns a blind eye and deaf ears even to even this. Let's hope no one has to visit the emergency room as a result.

"Mommy, mommy! I hit a love lock."


Other "love related" concerns in the hood

While a mess of "love" locks on the old bridge gives the League nary a pause, other forms of "love related" detritus don't escape its notice. For example, a "condom, used at the corner of Mowbray Arch and Colonial Avenue" was discussed at the July 16, 2015 meeting of the GNL.

The condom in the photo below was spotted on the banks of The Hague. Naturally, the GNL was advised of its presence. It may wish to determine if and where this condom was"used,"too.

Speaking of condoms and "love" locks, just as a condom could cause a bowel obstruction in some hapless sea mammal who mistook it for a jellyfish and swallowed it, so each rusty, jagged padlock on the bridge — each also a memento of mindless passion (not the passion of love, but the desire to turn love into something tangible, and tag and trash a nice, old bridge in the process) — could damage a kid on a bike who didn't realize a safety feature like a pedestrian bridge's hand rail was, in fact, not so safe after all.


Our New Seal

Meet "Taelafyr" (pronounced tail-a-fire), the GNL's new mascot. The old seal had a regal (as in snooty) lion, borrowed from the city in Belgium that the Ghent neighborhood borrowed its name from. Taelafyr is a more appropriate representative of modern-day Ghent.


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