Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tom Brown's Letter

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.


  1. Nice thoughts, but the question I put to you is..."Did the Town of Richmond adequately prepare and maintain their secondary roads during this known bridge closure?"

    I look forward to your direct answer to this question on your blog.


    Jim C.

  2. Trust me, the band wagon began LONG before Tom Brown's letter. We in Huntington do not have a vote in your town while many of the business owners in Richmond do.

    It has been frustrating for us to be advertised at while being told to stay off so many of the Richmond roads. Some of Mr. Brown's frustration undoubtably arose from seeing how well the Huntington roads are maintained (the vast majority of which are gravel, not black-topped) in contrast to the dirt roads in Richmond. It is hard to see how poorly prepared the dirt roads were as alternative routes given the foreknowledge of the bridge closure. The complaint is around the fact that there was no sense of common community, simply an insistence that we belong in Richmond only to leave behind some cash. Like it or not, that is the apparent message. Community does not exist simply from stating that one will or does exist.

    Your response to Mr. Brown's letter is as much of an over reaction as you believe Mr. Brown's letter to have been.

  3. Maybe they should also check out the conduct of their so called road forman and see what a lousy job he is doing and has done and the way he goes about it. The town of Richmond has more problems than with their town manager and police chief if one was to really look into the facts.

  4. From an engineering standpoint, the roads that were closed in Richmond present significant challenges to their upkeep. Dugway Road lies between a mountainside and the river and thus receives all the snowmelt on its path to the river. Kenyon Road is directly over the low spot of the drainage basin for the area, and current standards would not allow a road to be placed there.
    With all due respect for the road crews in Huntington, I do not believe that there are unpaved roads in Huntington that face similar heavy traffic burdens in drainage basins. Let's not politicize the practical.

  5. My fellow Huntingtonians, please correct me if I am wrong, but even before the bridge closure, I believe there pervaded here an attitude or perception that Richmond maintains the Huntington Road during winter to a lesser standard. I think that is pretty accurate, given everything I've heard in our general stores while drinking coffee with my neighbors. So then, the bridge closed, and yes, it felt like we were getting repeatedly and excessively guilt-tripped into not only buying local, Richmond local, but having to go well out of our way to do it. But, that's almost beside the point anyway. The real frustration is again with passers-through who perceive that Richmond was not taking care of the roads that we need to get through your town, at the commuters' expense, almost as a continuation of the discourtesy we get in winter with what we perceive to be a calculation on the part of Richmond that it's not benefiting the vast majority of Richmonders to adequately maintain the Huntington Road vis-a-vis plowing, sanding, etc. (If this makes any sense, I'll be impressed.) My point is, I think the current frustration actually PREDATES the bridge closure and is a CONTINUATION of it. I don't think the perception will resolve itself once the bridge is reopened, because many Huntingtonians will still feel like they're getting shafted again next winter. It would be helpful to determine how accurate I am about this so that we don't all become deluded into thinking this problem will magically resolve itself with the bridge's reopening only to have us all rehashing this angst again when the first snow flies or freezing rain comes.

    From another's comment: "Your response to Mr. Brown's letter is as much of an over reaction as you believe Mr. Brown's letter to have been." ....... That's exactly what I thought as I read it! Take it from a classic over-reacter, DG, that comment 'tis accurate. Unfortunately for you, as a new business owner at least, I hope you're aware that you will be paying a small but extremely predicatble price for what essentially amounted to your desire to put Tom Brown in his place by demonstrating your relative moral and intellectual superiority. That's just the way people are. In economic times like these, you might not have the luxury of antagonizing so many potential customers before you've even turned over the "We're Open" sign. I wish you the best all the same.

  6. As mature I would like to be, the concept of boycotting Richmond shops because of bad road maintenance is so staggeringly ill-conceived, immature, and needlessly hostile, that it makes me want to respond with a torrent of expletives. The roads in Richmond are horrible (just like Jericho and so many other towns). So why not punish the businesses with a boycott? The answers are so obvious, that anyone who would endorse this course of action must be either very stupid, or a very angry, nasty person.

    First of all, many owners of Richmond businesses live in Huntington! How does that sit with your tribal warfare mentality?

    Secondly, let's say it's not utterly moronic (which it clearly is)to punish people who's votes result in an inconvenience for you, what about the owners who were on the losing side of the vote? Screw 'em right?

    Lastly, let's say it works. Let's say your boycott forces every shop to close or move, all you will accomplish is to hurt people who, until you started this disgusting town-line tribalism, considered you their neighbors. Oh, and you have destroyed the Richmond economy. That will do wonders for road maintenance!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.