Sunday, May 8, 2011

Doomsday Procrastination

Here's a letter I submitted to our local newspaper regarding the on-again-off-again shopping mall project on the edge of town. The developers bulldozed scores of acres of beautiful mature forest and let it sit barren and unused for a few years now as the reality of our current economic condition remorselessly plays havoc with their plans. I've ranted about this development a few times before on my Moose Hill Journal in September 2008 and November 2009. This letter was published in the April 22, 2011 Sharon Advocate.

It is with perplexed sadness that I watch community television coverage of ongoing meetings regarding the Sharon Commons development. It's like watching slick presentations about the exact style and placement of deck chairs on the Titanic. Developers of yet more unnecessary big box stores try to perpetuate the illusion that we are still getting the “lifestyle mall” originally promised so many years ago now. They present drawings of fake facades and sloping roofs and talk as if a few more windows will change the fact that they are building just another mall with acres of asphalt, no residential component, and no public transportation.

This plan is based on 20th century thinking with no one pausing to consider where the 21st century may be headed. It was $4 per gallon gas and a deep recession that brought this project to a screeching halt a few years ago and prompted a cheapening and down-scaling of the project. Guess what? $4 a gallon gas is on the way back and, as recent debate in Washington shows, we are broke and the days of happy motoring and buying ever more cheap junk from China are over.

This project is never going to happen. It's unlikely it will be built, and if it is, stores will sit unoccupied. Consider the real state of our economy and then look at the local malls we already have (Plainville, Dedham, Avon, Stoughton, Easton). I understand that we residents of Sharon are desperate for tax relief, but this mall is not the answer. We have raped scores of acres of beautiful forest for an obsolete idea that is doomed to failure. We need a new plan and a new project. We need new vision for a future that that is not based on personal automobiles and mindless consumption. We are on the doorstep of a new age where it will be the real things that matter: clean air, clean water, clean energy, local food and community. This project provides none of these things.

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