It has taken me a bit of time to digest Tom Brown’s letter, which recently appeared in the Times Ink. I found it particularly distressing to learn that Richmond businesses have become the target of an aggrieved Huntington resident who is dissatisfied with town road conditions. I took exception to comments that intimate a desire to generate a “band-wagon” mentality around his central points, all of which are punctuated by a final statement that amounts to “our foreman’s dump truck is bigger than your foreman’s dump truck.”
Early on, Brown states his belief in supporting local business, especially when economic hardship presents. Not surprisingly, he spends the rest of his letter moving away from his own moral ground, offering a romanticized and insular view of the situation. By careful omission, Brown implies that Richmond businesses are indifferent to the very real challenges that face Huntington’s commuting population. This faulty incrimination is central to his attempted link between independent business and town policy.
Brown ignores the reality that many Huntington residents who conduct business in Richmond would be equally affected. His misdirected assault will hurt artists who sell their work in town, and agricultural producers who operate seasonally at the farmer’s market and year round through local markets. Huntington residents employed at local eateries will loose tip wages, and Huntington service providers will loose revenue if the Richmond operations they contract with can’t afford their services anymore. There is a high level of integration between the two complementary economies. What hurts one, has a great potential to hurt the other.
OneRichmond grew organically out of a necessity to preserve the local economy and community spirit. It has rallied the greatest show of solidarity and individual participation Richmond has experienced in years. Brown satirically implies that the recent efforts of OneRichmond and RABA are a “quest,” ephemeral and distant. I strongly disagree with his assertion. I believe their efforts have formed concretely into a directive that encourages community participation and economic vitality, all of which extends to the Huntington communities.
No one disputes that this bridge closing and subsequent road closures have isolated and disenfranchised residents in Richmond and Huntington. Residents are empowered to hold towns accountable for the diligent maintenance of safe roads. Those who express their views and advocate a peaceful and considered process should be celebrated, while those who attempt to fracture common bonds and damage community relations should look to their communities for healthy alternatives.