The slip­pery slope

Fools rush in where an­gels fear to tread. So the say­ing goes. It would be ad­vis­able for any­one weigh­ing in on this is­sue to visit a few op­er­at­ing nurs­ing homes in the re­gion. Take a good look. Ob­serve the foot­print of the fa­cil­ity on the land.

Rappahannock News - - COMMENT • NATURE - BY RON MAXWELL The writer lives in Flint Hill

Does the prospect of a nurs­ing home in Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton give you a queasy feel­ing? If so, you’re not alone.

There al­ready ex­ist nurs­ing homes at ev­ery point of the com­pass, north, south, east and west of Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton. Take a drive. Check them out. They pro­lif­er­ate be­cause we want them. With the aging pop­u­la­tion, we need them.

But there are other things peo­ple want as well: big box stores, bowl­ing al­leys, fast food out­lets, race car tracks, casi­nos, amuse­ment parks, of­fice build­ings, mul­ti­plexes, strip malls, fac­to­ries, quar­ries.

Ev­ery one of these fa­cil­i­ties or op­er­a­tions al­ready ex­ist within an hour’s drive of Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton. Any one of these busi­nesses could bring em­ploy­ment and tax rev­enues to Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton. Why not in­vite them all?

Ev­ery­one read­ing this knows the an­swer. Be­cause in no time at all Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton would be trans­formed into some­thing else. It would be­come Front Royal, Charleston, Culpeper, War­ren­ton, Gainesville, Hay­mar­ket. Noth­ing wrong with those places. We go there all the time. But is that re­ally the fu­ture for this lit­tle cor­ner of the world? Is this fu­ture in­evitable?

Fools rush in where an­gels fear to tread. So the say­ing goes. It would be ad­vis­able for any­one weigh­ing in on this is­sue to visit a few op­er­at­ing nurs­ing homes in the re­gion. Take a good look. Ob­serve the foot­print of the fa­cil­ity on the land. Note the space ac­tu­ally re­quired for park­ing lots and drive­ways. Take the trou­ble to count the parked cars at any given time. Watch the traf­fic in and out of the fa­cil­ity: em­ploy­ees, de­liv­er­ies, main­te­nance ve­hi­cles, waste re­moval, am­bu­lances, vis­i­tors. How much ad­di­tional noise is gen­er­ated? How much light­ing is re­quired around the clock, all night long? How much ad­di­tional se­cu­rity and traf­fic con­trol?

With­out a doubt some peo­ple will profit from the in­stal­la­tion of such a ma­jor busi­ness en­ter­prise in Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton. With­out a doubt tax rev­enues will in­crease. If those are the only cri­te­ria to be con­sid­ered it’s a no brainer. But as we well know, these are not the only cri­te­ria. There’s also the bas­ket of vari­ables fac­tored in as ‘the qual­ity of life.’

Like many oth­ers, I moved to the county be­cause it had not yet been ru­ined by the im­prover’s zeal. What makes this place so spe­cial is that it isn’t what sur­rounds it on all points of the com­pass. When that changes, to the ex­tent it does, it is no longer spe­cial, no longer unique, no longer the bu­colic oa­sis amid the madding crowd.

Do we need re­mind­ing that ev­ery­thing we want or need is al­ready within an hour’s drive in any di­rec­tion? Can we still ap­pre­ci­ate an open field, the dark night sky, the quiet of a small town, the ab­sence of traf­fic, the pres­ence of wild an­i­mals, the still­ness of na­ture?

As some­one of an age who could find him­self in an as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity at any time, I wouldn’t mind be­ing set­tled in a ru­ral lo­ca­tion with a view of the Blue Ridge from Page, Greene, Albe­marle or Rock­ing­ham Coun­ties. In no way would I want to im­pose on the tran­quil­ity and charm of Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton.

I’m guided by a sim­ple equa­tion for the pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of the unique char­ac­ter of the county. If a project re­quires con­crete or as­phalt — don’t do it. Yes, I know, that’s a small mi­nor­ity opin­ion. But one thing is for sure. If a nurs­ing home is con­structed in Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton the town will be ir­re­vo­ca­bly and for­ever changed in ways no one can re­li­ably pre­dict.

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