ENTERTAINMENT

Arlington 'bar crawl' sets off debate over who pays for police, damages

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Thousands of people will celebrate the Fourth of July early with an All American bar crawl Saturday afternoon and beyond in Arlington.

But some Arlington residents are fighting what they say has become a disturbing and messy event.

Some residents say they'll leave the neighborhood and go somewhere to avoid the crowds.

"If there are star-spangled shenanigans, that's fine. It's the other shenanigans we're worried about," says Nadim Kouttab, a restaurant employee.

Lyon Village resident and mother of three Heather Buck wants to support local restaurants, which can see quadruple profits on a crawl night, but she'd like them regulated.

"The last one, the same guy peed on my lawn three times, and the kids were in the yard," says Buck.

"It's hard to plan for these things. We have an estimated number of tickets sold (more than 2,000). We don't know how many will show up at the door and buy tickets," says Dustin Sternbeck, Arlington Co. Police Dept. Spokesperson.

Last St Patrick's Day, 5,400 bar crawlers overwhelmed 51 police officers, with 25 arrests,17 fights, and at least one naked woman.

The county is considering how best to manage pub crawls.

A county-sponsored online open survey, with 1,000 responses so far, finds "overwhelming" support for *event organizers* to bear the costs, like extra police and clean-up that taxpayers shoulder now.

Event organizer, Project DC Events, counters that the sales tax revenue from the popular event more than compensates the county for revenue lost paying for police and the aftermath.

But Assistant County Manager Wilfredo Calderon says, "There is no direct correlation between revenue generated and additional costs to the county. The budgeting process doesn't allow for that."

So extra costs are passed on to the taxpayer. 

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