Ghent Neighborhood League, Hague School, Williams School

The Ghent Neglect-A-Hood League

"Preservation and Promotion of Historic Ghent"

ghent neighborhood league, norfolk city council, andria mcclellan courtney doyle


Later, the GNL would renovate its website and domain name (formerly, which is now the address of an online casino), 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, even including the contact link):



Why diss the venerable GNL?

Let's start with the fact that the Ghent Neighborhood League has become an inept joke, with only a handful of its members still attending its meetings. It has a membership of fewer than 200 people, while Ghent has a population of over 5,000. What does that say 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 this bad joke of a civic league?

Then, too, there's the GNL's less-than-serious, and far-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 was someone's idea of an artistic statement, or maybe it was exactly what it looked like, a house in serious disrepair, and right in the heart of the Ghent Historic District, less than a block from the Chrysler Museum.

Certainly seemed like something the vaunted GNL — those "Advocates for the conservation and promotion of the Historic Character of Ghent"— should never have allowed to get that 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:

ghent neighborhood league, norfolk, virginia

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

ghent neighborhood league, norfolk, virginia

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

ghent neighborhood league, ghent, norfolk, virginia

April, 2017 — so much for that dormer:

ghent neighborhood league, ghent, norfolk, virginia


Neglect of the bridge over The Hague


SPOILER ALERT: The so-called "love locks" were removed thanks to the efforts of genuine concerned citizens, not the worthless GNL. But the GNL's serious lack of any "preservation and conservation" efforts when it came to protecting the Hague footbridge, the iconic entry to the historic Ghent neighborhood, from the locks should be prominently filed in the annals of feckless foolishness, preferably never to be witnessed by reasonable citizens again.

When the issue of the lock vandalism on the bridge was brought to the GNL at one of its meetings, two people spoke out in favor of keeping the locks on the bridge, while eight people spoke against them. An impromptu vote was then taken: 2 in favor of the locks, 10 opposed. But after that the leadership of the GNL never would agree to a vote of its membership on the matter. Later, one of its officers even characterized the impromptu vote that was taken as being evenly split.

There was nothing historic or beautiful about that mess of gaudy, rusting padlocks on the bridge. The "beauty" of this travesty was 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 was 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 got to express their love with a cheap, rusting padlock.


GNL wasn't 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.

The GNL should be ashamed of itself! It won't lift a finger to save the bridge from being defaced. It had 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 turned a blind eye and deaf ears even to that.

ghent neighborhood league, norfolk, virginia

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

ghent neighborhood league, norfolk, virginia

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.

ghent neighborhood league, norfolk city council, andria mcclellan, courtney doyle

ghent neighborhood league, norfolk city council, andria mcclellan courtney doyle

Get your "Ghent Neglect-A-Hood League" Tees (and much more) here!

ghent neighborhood league, norfolk, virginia

Our New Seal

Check out GNL's actual new I-kid-you-not logo, borrowed from its website. What, there isn't even one decent graphic designer in the hood? Leo the Friendly White Ghost practically fades into unrecognition in front of that puke-yellow heart — what, in remembrance of the bygone "love lock" infestation on the old bridge?