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Morning Poll: What Do You Think About That ‘F–k the NRA’ House?

Opinions seem to be divided about the house in Arlington’s Highland Park neighborhood with the chalk message declaring “F–k the NRA.”

On one hand, many people — even those who are not fans of the National Rifle Association and pro-gun policies — object to writing a large profanity on the front of a house along a busy road. There are children in the neighborhood who walk by this house, those who object to it say.

On the other hand, the resident who wrote the message is exercising his or her right to free speech and addressing an important topic. When guns are being used to kill children in schools, supporters say, the “F-word” should be the least of people’s concerns.

What do you think?

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House With ‘F–k the NRA’ Written on It Riles Neighbors

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) An Arlington resident decided to voice an opinion on gun control via a message scrawled in chalk onto the front of their house, after the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida two weeks ago, but the message is causing some controversy not related to politics.

The house is located along busy Washington Blvd, roughly between East Falls Church and Westover Village. Despite Arlington’s deep blue political leanings, the words have been a hot button conversation among neighbors because the message — “F–k the NRA” — includes a profanity in plain sight of anyone driving or walking by.

“I have no issue with their freedom of expression, but I am concerned that my young kids are going to see the profanity as we drive by and ask what it means,” one resident said on the local NextDoor message board. “I also tend to think it’s possible to express the same sentiment without public profanity. Is this kind of thing even allowed under Arlington code?”

“Regardless of how you feel on the issue, it’s highly offensive and inappropriate,” another said. “But we can explain to kids that vulgarity is evidence of a weak mind.”

“I’m no fan of the NRA but it’s outrageous and counterproductive to boot,” said yet another peeved resident. “Freedom of speech and expression does not need to sink to this level,” echoed a neighbor.

One resident who lives nearby told ARLnow.com that he contacted police, to no avail.

“I called ACPD non emergency number as kids shouldn’t be seeing that kind of language in my opinion,” he said. “Their response, ‘police have been out and there is nothing that they can do.’ First Amendment protection is needed absolutely but it was shocking that there was no profanity law that was being broken.”

Some message board posters, however, said they did not have a problem with the sign.

“I pump my fist in the air every time I drive by,” said one, “in case the owners are reading this and think everyone is against their statement.”

“That house usually has pretty artwork or other positive statements. Obviously the profanity is pushing the limits for some neighbors but personally I don’t have a problem explaining the use of profanity to my kids because the intention behind it is good,” said another supporter. “The artist isn’t promoting violence, unhealthy or dangerous behavior. Has anyone close to the neighbor talked to them and explained how the language is affecting them?”

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Six Neighborhood Improvement Projects Could Secure Funding

arlington-va-logoThe Arlington County Board could approve another round of neighborhood improvement projects at its meeting this Saturday.

Six projects are slated to receive $3.5 million in funding in the fourth and final round of appropriations from 2012’s $11 million Neighborhood Conservation Bond.

The projects are:

  • Street improvements to the 5700 block of 2nd Street S. and the 100 block of S. Kensington Street in Glencarlyn. Cost: $724,042. Expected completion date: June 2016.
  • A trail connector from the 4800 block of 7th Street S. to the W&OD trail in Barcroft. Cost: $135,317. Expected completion date: October 2015.
  • Pedestrian safety improvements to 19th Road N. between Woodstock Street and Upton Street in Waverly Hills. Cost: $753,845. Expected completion date: May 2016.
  • Street improvements to S. Lang Street between Arlington Ridge Road and 28th Street in Arlington Ridge. Cost: $713,003. Expected completion date: October 2015.
  • Streetlights and trail improvements on N. Ohio Street between 22nd Street and Washington Blvd in Highland Park Overlee Knolls. Cost: $380,369. Expected completion date: July 2015.
  • Park improvements to Woodlawn Park in Waycroft-Woodlawn. Cost: 795,000. Expected completion date: None given.

The projects were chosen based on a priority scale and approved for recommendation by the NCAC in December.

The projects given the highest priority were those in neighborhoods that have recently updated or completed new conservation plans and in neighborhoods that have waited for projects the longest. The county staff report has the full list of criteria.

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Photos: Neighborhood Day 2012

Many residents spent this past Saturday taking part in the various Neighborhood Day events throughout Arlington.

The weather cooperated, providing warmth and sun for the outdoor activities. From yard sales to cook outs to petting zoos, residents came out to connect with their neighbors and partake in the festivities. As you can see, kids’ activities took center stage at most of the events.

Here’s a look at the festivities at Highland Park Overlee-Knolls Family Fun Day, Bluemont Neighborhood BBQ and Fairlington Day.

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Highland Park/Overlee Knolls Historic District Created

There’s a new historic district within Arlington’s borders.

Officials have added a historic district around the Highland Park/Overlee Knolls neighborhood to the Virginia Landmarks Register. The historic district is one of 16 sites recently added to the register, according to the Associated Press.

The district is bordered by N. Quantico Street to the west, 22nd Street N. to the north, N. Lexington Street and N. McKinley Road to the east, and I-66 to the south.

According to a neighborhood listserv, the historic designation will not place additional restrictions on a property owner’s ability to modify or tear down a home.

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Jon Stewart Would Approve of the County Board Race

If Jon Stewart wanted to find sanity in politics, he would have had to look no further than across the river in Arlington. This year’s county board race has been polite, issues-oriented and has avoided the stench of national political hyperbole or special interest interference.

Adding to the sanity, the race has also featured a viable third-party candidate who’s a full participant in debates, not a side show.

In Highland Park Thursday night, a quiet, attentive, sign-less audience watched as Democratic incumbent Chris Zimmerman, Republican Mark Kelly and Green party candidate Kevin Chisholm debated a range of issues.

The most heated portion of the debate — relatively speaking — came when Kelly again tweaked Zimmerman on the county’s Columbia Pike/Crystal City streetcar project. Referring to it as a “$200 million trolley,” Kelly made an economic argument against the massive project.

“I just don’t think it’s a wise investment moving forward,” was Kelly’s zinger. Chisholm — a self-described social liberal and fiscal conservative — agreed, and spoke of the “gentrification effect” the streetcar could cause on Columbia Pike.

Zimmerman, who has made the streetcar a bit of a personal mission, responded with a passionate defense of the “years of input” on the project and the “stronger network of public transportation” that the project will bring to the Pike. He announced his annoyance that debate rules didn’t give him enough time to discuss the project’s financing.

The remainder of the debate was pure zen for a sanity supporter. In fact, the most intemperate remaining portion of the debate came from the moderator, who asked about the “glib” county staff response to concerns about the development plan for East Falls Church.

Kelly talked about the “disturbing” lack of public input into the Crystal City Sector Plan and said the board should take more time on East Falls Church. “You don’t just do density for density’s sake,” he said.

Zimmerman said the board will, in fact, take more time on the plan and will “approve something that I’m confident will reflect the needs and desires of the people who live in East Falls Church.”

All three candidates agreed that affordable housing was important, particularly on Columbia Pike. Zimmerman said affordable housing “is what I’ve spent my career working on,” and lauded the county for having “one of the most progressive” affordable housing policies in the region.

Kelly said preserving affordable housing on the Pike starts with not spending money on projects that could result in the loss of garden apartments and existing market-rate affordable units.

Chisholm worried about Pike residents moving to Fairfax and questioned the $250,000 salary of the head of a county-supported housing non-profit, who he did not name. Chisholm added that the relationship between developers and the county government is “too cozy.”

On the bond issues on Tuesday’s ballot, Kelly and Chisholm criticized the proposed use of bond funds for both capital projects and infrastructure maintenance.

“If we can’t maintain what we already have, why are we putting funds in there to buy something new,” Kelly asked.

Zimmerman countered that the county’s AAA bond rating proves that the board has practiced sound fiscal discipline.

On the state of the Metro system, Chisholm compared Metro to a car that “needs a lot of work” due to years of neglect.

“It’s clear there wasn’t good safety oversight with Metro,” Chisholm added.

Zimmerman, on the defense due to his position on the Metro board, said that Metro’s problems stem from insufficient funding. The system is getting older, he said, necessitating more investment.

Kelly, staring down a particularly juicy target, said he didn’t want “to politicize Metro’s problems,” but argued that the cause of Metro’s safety problems aren’t financial.

“Safety is not a matter of money, it’s a matter of culture,” Kelly said. He then criticized what he said was Zimmerman’s intervention to save a $100,000 per year arts manager position at Metro.

Kelly, whose campaign signs lack the word “Republican,” politely asked voters in heavily-Democratic Arlington not so much for votes, but for an open mind.

“I encourage you to consider me on Nov. 2,” he said.

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County Employee Injured By Falling Branch

An employee with the county’s Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau was struck in the head by a falling branch this afternoon while working at Washington Boulevard and North Nicholas Street, in the Highland Park neighborhood near Westover Village.

The accident happened around 1:00 p.m. when a backhoe struck part of a tree, causing the branch to fall about seven feet onto the employee’s head, according to Arlington County Chief Fire Marshal Benjamin Barksdale.

Although the accident initially sounded serious, Barksdale says the employee was taken to Virginia Hospital Center with only a minor head wound.

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