How to diminish a vibrant community

Having lived in 14 different communities around the country, I have experienced some wonderful communities and neighborhoods. On the other hand, some communities allowed decision makers to diminish the vibrancy and quality of the population. Let me cite some of what I have seen in the past 22 years:

» Allow free parking to be converted into a money-making concern, forcing some residents to shop elsewhere;

» Increase taxes so residents shop in neighboring towns to save money;

» Raise the rent on smaller, family-owned businesses to be replaced with national chains that are less personal and friendly places to eat or shop;

» Convert or demolish locally owned hotels/motels for national brands or dormitories for students;

» Change the building styles from an intimate, neighborhood or colonial feeling to a brash contemporary, colorized palate lacking sensitivity to the senses;

» Take a quirky, one-of-a-kind shopping destination and change it to strange looking fake storefronts that are like all other shopping centers;

» Convert a park, green space or open field and fill it with multi-storied apartments with acres of parking and no sidewalks, then connect it to a secondary road, which causes traffic congestion;

» Take neighborhood schools of a few hundred students, where everyone knows most everyone else (and their parents), and build a school of a few thousand.

Over the years, things change. But they change for the better with the right decision makers who have a long-term plan that will leave the community equal to, or better than, when they started.

Where is the plan? Where are the right decision makers? Where are the voters?

Bill Kaufmann

James City County

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