Letters to the editor – December 21st, 2016

Published 9:49 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pleasant memories

Editor, Smithfield Times

I must tell you, I so enjoyed your story of the cedar tree. I was born and raised in the rural Pennsylvania Dutch area near Allentown. Growing up we did not have money for a bought tree and my grandfather had a nice farm with many rock fences and all with an abundance of cedar trees.

Each year after Thanksgiving we went to his farm and cut a tree for our home. My mom was in charge of decorating, but we children were there to help. Everyone had to wear long sleeves, as it was a bit like decorating a cactus. The smell was wonderful all throughout the season. I had forgot about the insects, but your story made me recall one year when dozens of praying mantis hatched in the house. My mom was not happy. 

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Thanks so much for the great memories.

Ray Haring

A positive year in IW

Editor, Smithfield Times

As the door for 2016 rapidly moves towards full closure, permit me to verbalize a few reflections upon these last twelve months, especially from the vantage point of this particular seat.

This has been a year of remarkable change. We experienced eight months of an entirely new interim county administrator who knew few, if any, existing personnel upon his arrival. The particular issues and their history had to be learned by Mr. Wanner upon his arrival. Two weeks preceding his arrival, we welcomed three entirely new members to our board whose task was to, as quickly as possible, grasp the issues at hand. The looming budget, stormwater questions, zoning issues, organizational charts, commissions and committees awaited them. In addition to all this, they also were required to immediately move towards the time consuming process of searching for a permanent County Administrator. Our new Administrator, Mr. Keaton, came on board September of this year. Once again, the learning curve restarted as he embraced this position.

All this to say our county government has undergone extraordinary changes this past year, certainly unprecedented for my tenure.

Therefore, as Chair, I would like to personally commend our staff, all department heads, all county workers in all positions, our previous and present county administrator, our new Board members and our existing board member, for the professional and admirable way the entire year was handled. It is a testimony to their character.

Our new Board members, Mr. Acree, Mr. McCarty, and Mr. Grice,had the choice to come in this position and be adversarial, contentious and highly critical — and to make my role quite difficult. They have not taken that route. I would like the public to know these gentleman came on board with a positive attitude, listening ears, a servant’s heart and an industrious work ethic. They, along with Mr. Jefferson, have made my role, not just easier, but a joy. I am indebted to them. Their gifts — and they all are quite gifted — have been and will be rich assets these next years.

The citizens of our county have dealt with me in the streets, the grocery store, the post office and especially in the Boardroom with an uncommon grace I am not convinced I deserve. Their conduct, in the midst of passionate, heated issues, has been exemplary, illustrative of how a democracy can and should work. I thank them.

Today, our county stands in a good place. I have no doubt, based on the past, that the future of this place we call home bodes well. It will not be the absence of challenges, but rather the noble undertaking of challenges that will define this board, our entire county staff and the citizens of Isle of Wight during the coming year. Let us look forward to it with a confident expectancy. Thank you.

Rex Alphin
IOW Board of Supervisors

Colonial farm is best

Editor, Smithfield Times

On multiple occasions over the past 22 months, the 275-plus petitioners for preservation of the Pierceville Farm have emphasized their opposition to intensive development of the uniquely historic property. Arguments have centered upon housing density and standards; traffic congestion and stormwater/sewer management; school capacities to absorb the additional students projected; potential crime, and the importance of restoring the 1730s Dutch Colonial farmhouse and outlying buildings. Of those 275 mostly Downtown petitioners, fewer than 40 reside in Goose Hill subdivision.

Efforts to secure direct investment from the Trust for Public Land (TPL) have been complicated because TPL’s business model involves close collaboration with local governments — not start-up non-profit organizations. Additionally, as a recent Times article reported, formal requests to philanthropic donors for “first money in” have been rebuffed thus far.

At this point, prospective donors are far more likely to respond favorably to overtures from the Town and TPL for support, as evidenced by the cost-sharing arrangements for Windsor Castle LLC and the Luter Sports Complex. TPL’s ability to secure matching-grant monies is likewise promising, but will take at least a year to achieve fruition. Thus, we believe strongly that an early dialogue between Town officials and TPL is imperative.

Lastly, there is not one among us who has placed personal blame on Ms. Delk-Crocker. She has an absolute right to sell her property at the highest price possible. However, any purchaser is bound by the Town’s Zoning Ordinance (Article 1) to “do no harm” to our existing quality of life. All development offerings to date have failed that litmus test. A working — and profitable — Colonial Farm continues to make excellent sense.

Mark Gay
Executive Director
Preserve Smithfield Inc.