Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church


Call it gall, nerve, chutzpah, or effrontery, the theft of rosebushes from the median triangle, owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation at Columbia Pike and Braddock Road, last week was outrageous. The roses were part of an overhaul of the overgrown traffic triangle undertaken last year by volunteers from the Parklawn Civic Association (PCA). Their beautification efforts included removing invasive and weedy plants, trimming back the evergreen shrubs, and installing a handsome welcome sign to the Parklawn community. The work was supported by a Neighborhood Enhancement Grant from Fairfax County and private donations. It was backbreaking work, but the results were worth it.

And now, under the cover of night, one or more dastardly thieves dug out the rosebushes and stole them away, leaving only the planting holes behind. It was a nasty, criminal thing to do, a police report was filed, and it’s no surprise that Parklawn residents are infuriated. All their hard work, a tangible expression of pride in their community, was ripped away.

Sadly, such thefts are not unique. There seems to be an expectation, among a few, that anything on publicly-owned land is fair game. The idea that “the land is owned by the public; I am part of the public, therefore I can do whatever I want with it or to it” is way off base. Land that is owned by federal, state, or local governments is owned for the benefit of the public, not for a few individuals, and needs to be respected by all. Our community needs volunteers committed to improving our quality of life. Let’s not let the naysayers, by word or by deed, get in the way of the right thing to do. There are more of us than there are of them!

One important way to help improve our quality of life is to start, or join, a Neighborhood Watch. Many civic and homeowner associations already have a Neighborhood Watch. In fact, the oldest continuously operating Neighborhood Watch in the nation is right here in Mason District. The Camelot Neighborhood Watch has been operating for decades, always recruiting new and younger volunteers to succeed the original founders. Neighborhood Watch is a great way to get to know your neighbors and your community. Training is provided by the Fairfax County Police Department. Contact Brendan Murphy, Crime Prevention Officer at the Mason District Station, at 703/256-8035 ext.2257, for more information.

The annual nationwide observance for Neighborhood Watches, National Night Out, will be Tuesday, August 2. You don’t have to have a formal Neighborhood Watch to participate. Having a group cookout or informal social gathering that evening will suffice, but it’s also a good time to recruit Neighborhood Watch volunteers. Some neighborhoods invite police and fire personnel to stop by, too. It’s a great community effort!

The current Art in the Mason District Governmental Center program features florals by Lake Barcroft artist Nancy Garcia. Plucked from Nancy’s own garden, the simple pansies, bearded iris, and exotic pink calla lilies are expressed in pencil that highlights every curve and color. Some include a background of gold gesso that fairly pops with excitement. Nancy Garcia’s paintings may be viewed at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6705 Columbia Pike in Annandale, from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov