Government by and for the people
College Creep is consuming Farmville. And it will devour everything valuable in its path. If left uncurbed it is like manifest destiny or lebensraum or kudzu or a flesh-eating virus. Longwood already encompasses too much of Farmville. This is a small town with limited locations available for business development. On Main Street alone there are two sports fields, two high-rise dorms, gym/health center, College Plaza and the new bookstore/student housing, and let’s not forget the very scenic parking lots. The Travis Building is theirs, and I hear that the Watkins Abbott building at the corner of High Street has also been purchased. And that is just Main Street. The downtown should be zoned for businesses only. There is so “little” prime real estate. Space would be better utilized by establishments that will add to our “quality of life”: restaurants, boutiques, specialty shops, art galleries. How about considering the needs of the citizens and shoppers for a change? The developers who financially benefit from the college are also insatiable. The extent of their holdings is much too long to itemize here. Their plans are based only on financial gain for themselves and not the good of the town.
I am pleased to see that Farmville is catching its breath and taking a look at some long-term planning. Citizens groups like “Farmville: This Place Matters” can help us to halt the destruction of our historical places. We all need to speak up and challenge the encroachment of an ever-expanding educational empire. Longwood is not the be-all and end-all of neighbors. I believe that the economic impact of the students is exaggerated. Except for a few restaurants, beauty parlors, tanning salons, the mad rush of freshmen to Walmart or the Longwood T-shirt-buying frenzy on Parents Weekend, I have not observed students overly patronizing other businesses. If the university has circa 5,000 students, they certainly are not in town spending wildly. If they are not residents of the Farmville area, they do much of their business at home.
Longwood Real Estate Foundation has more than $94 million in assets and will continue to acquire more real estate because that is what they do. No one would suggest that they not expand. They are the largest employer we have. Their employees are tax-paying residents. But we need to decide where and how they expand, because this is our home.
So kudos to the Town Council and the Planning Board and the citizens who continue to speak out. This is government “by the people and for the people” and not “by” and “for” the special interests.