Say it ain’t so!

After reading Charles Schwabe’s column, the recent talk of a possible move for the city hall has me very concerned. I no longer live there, but still claim Swainsboro as my hometown. Through the years I have seen the beautiful courthouse I remember torn down, beautiful old homes torn down or fall down because of ill repair, being replaced with quick marts and gas stations. To say nothing of the drug infested areas that good, honest hardworking people used to live or may still try to live. All you need to do is take a ride around town to see what I mean.

Before you get all upset, I have NO problem with anyone trying to make a living with convenience stores and I don’t know anyone who may own real estate in any of the areas I mention. I do not mean to paint with a broad brush by inferring that the whole town is bad or unappealing. But I do know that if there was a planning and zoning commission for the future of my hometown, they sure missed the mark when they didn’t preserve the towns history and beauty and capitalizing on it by looking toward the future.

The many moves I have made in the last sixty some odd years have shown me what can actually be done when the citizens really have a vested interest in what their town offers and reserve the historical value and integrity of their town or village. They were not rich people. Just regular folks who took pride in the appearance and history of the area. I’ve seen railroad cars or old depots turned into visitors’ centers, barns into restaurants, shacks turned into antiques stores and old houses turned into bed and breakfasts homes.

Living in the state of New Jersey was like going back in time, the whole town was made up of old, and I mean OLD homes. They were occupied by families who had been born there and probably raised a family there. There were wealthy executives and there were average policemen and firemen all working together to keep that history. They would renovate the homes with more modern conveniences, but the structure was the same or equally historical. George Washington camped near our little village and probably would recognize most of it. You didn’t see any slum houses or areas. I’m sure there were nefarious people, but their homes and businesses were in tune with the historical structures. Developers went through an awful lot of red tape and regulations before they were allowed to build new homes adjoining the old towns. It wasn’t to keep people out, but to make sure property values were maintained, including the new structures. Zoning works. All of this comes with a price and taxes were high, but they didn’t have the issues small towns who don’t plan have like water, sewer, schools, etc.

In south side Virginia, there were farmers, professionals, and military families, but those who had been born and raised in our area generally lived in family homes for generations. They didn’t tear them down, they proudly kept them up.

Please, please don’t allow the city council to give up the beautiful old bank building on the corner of Highway 1 and 80. Please clean up the drug infested blighted areas of town that newcomers or visitors are bound to see when they tour the town. My heart breaks when I ride around my childhood home area of New Street.

Concerned citizen,

LaRose Tapley