EDITORIAL: March 11, 2005

Well, the 84 Lumber in Clarksville is looking to expand its operation, and Millville officials are considering requests from Home Depot for a large facility to be built near Burbage Road — where a plethora of new homes have been approved for construction.

To borrow a sentiment from Bob Dylan, yes, the times are changing.

Our area has seen the face of its business climate change from chicken farms to ice cream and tourist souvenir shops to gourmet restaurants and builders aplenty — over a few short decades. And, now, the climate appears to be shifting to big-money businesses that have formerly resided only in well-populated, high-travel areas.

See the connection?

We are changing, and at a meteoric rate. There are quickly becoming more and more services available (though largely only shopping options, as opposed to sewer and wholesale road improvements) and we have all witnessed a significant upgrade in cultural activities, particularly through the South Coastal Library and various local theater companies.

We see change. We embrace change. We fear change.

Emotions have been all over the map regarding development issues, and what’s to come. Mention the possibility of a Wal-Mart coming to the area and watch as some residents welcome the convenience of one-stop shopping, some fear for the impact on the smaller businesses in the community that have overlapping services and others turn beat red and bemoan the impact Wal-Mart traffic would bring to our already-stressed roads.

The change is coming, and we must stop wringing our hands with fear and agitation or celebrating the impending new dynamic. We need to figure out how to best control the change, and make sure it works for us.

Let’s convince our governmental leaders to ensure that a certain percentage of new jobs are filled by people in our community, that a percentage of open space and road improvements are parts of the package before they are approved and that realistic and equitable incentives are attainable for donations made to improving the overall quality of life for the community.

The ball is still in our court. Let’s get it right now, instead of bemoaning the inevitable.