Last Word on Busch Gardens, July 15

Busch Gardens

I have been eating at Busch Gardens for many years. For the last few years, I felt like the quality and quantity of food on the entree platters had slipped. This year, though, I have really enjoyed everything I've eaten, and the portions have been large—more in line with the prices. The quality of the food seems better, too—meaty chicken breasts, meaty ribs, crisp salad greens, etc. I hope this keeps up the rest of the season!

Wow! We saw the new Britmania show at Busch Gardens today and really enjoyed it! There are 35 minutes of British hits from the '60's to today. The musicians, singers and dancers are all excellent—much better than the last British music show there!

Colonial Williamsburg

I have lived here for 70 years, and have the CW app on my phone. While there are the usual no-extra-charge events, every day it seems there are mostly events which require an extra ticket. Fourth of July is an example, with Chowning's closing in the evening for an exclusive dining event. There is an exclusive Thomas Jefferson wine dinner at King's Arms-and an $80 dinner at the Lodge, which includes seating on the Palace Green for fireworks. With renovations to the Inn, and all these expensive events, I can't help but feel that CW is catering to rich visitors.

James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg should not set a bad precedent by abating CW's taxes for any period of time. As an alternative, they could consider buying some CW assets, such as vacant land, to use for economic development or the Kimball to use for the enjoyment of citizens. Those purchases could offset the tax payments.

Most people think that "fairness" is an important concept. So, what is fair about many visitors getting to walk all around CW and enjoy the sights and sounds (except the inside of structures) while not paying one thin dime to help support it? A family at the July Fouth fireworks visiting from Texas told me that a few hours spent walking all around CW and seeing the exteriors of structures, the wagons and animals, some people in costume and the Fifes & Drums was all they really needed when comparing that option with the cost of buying tickets. They would save their money for entrance the next day to Mount Vernon. In fairness to all, they need to have paid something for what they saw and enjoyed at CW.

The CW Foundation takes much needed steps to help keep the Historic area financially stable. Colonial Williamsburg's loss of the Kimball Theatre tugs at the hearts of many, but the 18th century must continue to stay alive and vibrant for all ages to walk in history. Let us remember the words in the prologue to Paul Green's historical drama, "The Common Glory:" "This is sacred soil whereon we are gathered."

The changes that were made to CW were the beginning of the end. Just one example is the ice skating rink in the middle of DOG Street. It is an eyesore and caused many of our friends who are out-of-state yearly visitors (many of whom were donors) to decide to put their money elsewhere. There was no reason to try to be all things to all people, just be the very best CW. There is now a generation of people who have no interest in history. They are rearing their children to expect to be entertained by rides, electronics or fidget spinners every minute of the day. Those people will never be interested in buying a ticket to tour an historical museum. The only thing adding these tacky distractions did was drive away the segment of the population who does see the value in education and history and are willing to purchase a ticket. The whole ambiance of beautiful CW, a trip back in time, is priceless. People who love CW come back every year wanting the exact same experience.

I have a solution for Colonial Williamsburg's financial problems. They should outsource the Goodwin Building.

Millions of dollars have been spent remodeling the Williamsburg Inn to look more modern. What? The quaint older motif is the very design that drew people, enhancing the reminiscence of history when Colonial Williamsburg restoration was just beginning. And even the beloved Regency dining room is no longer there. Has the current CEO never heard "don't fix that which is not broken?" Some of that Inn expense could have been allocated to the Kimball Theatre and kept it open. Just who was consulted about how the budget could be balanced? Modernistas? Without a sense of the iconic?

Colonial Williamsburg has decided to end the dalliance with the glamorous, but high-maintenance Miss Hospitality and to "dance with the girl that brung him." Now, Mitchell Reiss wants the citizens of the area to help pay for the Foundation's unproductive courtship of Miss Hospitality and other abysmal fiscal decisions by agreeing to tax relief measures, a move that will increase our own tax burden. Our city and county officials should ask for something in return. How about: 1. CW rescinds the request to close off any of the Historic Area. 2. Enhanced "Good Neighbor" pass privileges, and at lower cost. 3. Replace three voting CWF board members with three ex-officio, voting seats that would be held by city/county officials. There could be more ideas. Let's hear them.

CW tax relief? Aren't these the same people who just recently wanted to build a wall? Now they want the community to assume their tax obligation? Certainly, this is not a new idea with them; we have been subsidizing the unemployment checks of their 10-month employees for years. I wonder if they have considered eliminating some of those sine cure vice president positions or adjusting the exorbitant salaries CW executives receive? I'll take them seriously when they begin to act like the not-for-profit they pretend to be.

We hear there is a recommendation floating that Williamsburg is looking to acquire the Kimball so continued access by our many community groups will be assured of needed performance space. Sure makes sense! We need our beloved Kimball. And even when publicly owned, it should still keep the Kimball name in honor of the family who gave the $5 million for its extensive renovation a few years ago.

In reading the many comments about CW and the future of the Kimball, only one suggests protecting the continuity of the auditorium/theater for community groups. Let's hope all possible "players" will consider the difference between a business holding a contract to manage a theater and public ownership of the facility. A business can unravel for any number of reasons — just look at all the empty buildings in town. And the abrupt closing left gift certificates that were just pieces of paper. Organizations were left with programs printed for future performance dates. Will the city and the county have the gumption to see the availability of the structure as a perfect opportunity to provide urgently needed downtown performance space? It is likely that CW will happily work fairly with the city to fashion a good arrangement. Then, a contracting management group can deal with the scheduling. It needs to move along quickly before groups give up and leave for other localities. And when they do, the Merchants Square restaurants and shops will notice immediately, as will CW and the city bank accounts. Bye bye taxes that go to the city and rents that go to CW.

Shopping center

Broad Street Realty's application cites the current Ace Hardware store location as "Ideal for food and entertainment uses." If they would take off their blinders and realize that Williamsburg can't and shouldn't be turned into a replica of Bethesda or Arlington as implied in the Gazette article's "artist's rendering," they might realize that that building is — believe it or not — ideally suited to be a hardware store. For more than three decades, Ace has served the community from that centrally located site and provided needed goods and a high level of customer service to WIlliamsburg. Other than Sal's, how many restaurants in that area can claim that length of service? The article offers a vision of vacant apartments over vacant stores and more than enough parking for the only businesses to remain: Sal's, a grocery store and an ABC store. Do we really need more vacant retail such as the Rose's store, New Town, High Street? That area needs revitalization; but this isn't the solution.

Williamsburg Inn

My mother always said, "If you can't say something nice...." Unfortunately, I can't help but warn friends and family that the Williamsburg Inn interior now looks like any other hotel. No southern hospitality, no beautiful flowers, no intimate seating areas (which was a trademark of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller). Now a visitor is met with white ceramic urns, sparse monochromatic upholstered furniture and boudoir chairs in the lobby. Sad, so very sad! The back terraces are lovely and will be even nicer when the trees grow a bit.

Food trucks

Food trucks in Merchant's Square? Lowers the tone don't you think?

Property taxes

James City County property tax assessment: $.84/100. City of Williamsburg property tax assessment: $.57/100. Enough said.

Indoor voices

After trying to enjoy a meal over the constant shrieks of children at another table in a local restaurant, we suggest restaurants put up signs for the children, such as, "Children! Use your inside voices while dining with us!" Apparently parents of young children are deaf or choose to pretend they don't notice the loud screeches disrupting the quiet enjoyment of fellow patrons. We pity the teachers who have to deal with children who never were taught how and when to modify their voices. And we are annoyed to be afflicted while eating a meal we have expected to enjoy.

Looking for ...

How does one get a residential telephone directory for Williamsburg? Thank you.

In response to someone asking for a directory with people's listings: I have one which Verizon sent at my request.

If you are the person who bought a wood lathe at a Piney Creek garage sale in May, we have a part you may need. Please respond with your email and we'll be in touch with you.

A Drexel wood dining table with metal underneath was donated to Goodwill/Richmond Road recently. I am looking for the "extension leaf" if you come across it. Love the table! Thanks. Please call and leave your number.

I need to have my dryer vent cleaned of the accumulated lint. Can anyone recommend someone who will do a good job? Thank you.

Is there a company or individual in town who can transfer a 40-minute VCR to a flash drive for a reasonable rate (under $40)? Please respond to the Last Word.

Egg cartons

In regard to the four bags of egg cartons to be given away: Please call us at 757-293-8297 or drop them off at the Freedom Park Interpretive Center. The Williamsburg Botanical Garden is sponsoring the Butterfly Festival on the weekend of Aug. 5-6 and we desperately need egg cartons for craft projects for our younger visitors. Our speakers and two tents of 200+ butterflies will be attracting folks but the crafts activities are the special joy of the children who visit. We thank you in advance.

Rules of the road

Note to previous writer that implied that older drivers are afraid of yellow arrows. Actually, Mr. Writer, we are not old but safe drivers. We have experience here in Virginia watching out for you drivers that always have to get there first, even if it means crossing two lanes of traffic or ignoring the speed limit. You probably also drive one of those special Virginia cars. You know, the ones with no turn signals or rearview mirrors which you wouldn't use anyway Watching out for you is what helps us become old drivers.

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