Jennings 'Jenks' Hobson

Comment articles reflect the opinion of the writer(s), not the Rapp News. Comment below or by writing a letter to the editor: editor@rappnews.com.

I write in response to the previous commentaries, “Akre’s Trojan Horse” (By Ron Maxwell, June 3) and “Adjust your sails” (By Sheila Gresinger, June 3). Dramatic presentations can be wonderful in the world of movies, but are not always helpful in healthy real life decision making — especially when amplified by inaccuracy.

For one thing, Rush River Commons is not “the single biggest real estate development in the history of Rappahannock County” on at least two counts that I am aware of, although admittedly neither of those had much in terms of non-residential units. There might even be others for all I know.

For another thing, my personal experience is exactly opposite to the opinions of Mr. Alan Zuschlag and others. Although I have lived in Rappahannock for almost 50 years and was familiar with it previous to that, my retirement a few years ago necessitated that I move out of Washington and find a rental property. Even after months of searching, working with one of our top real estate agencies, a reasonable residence was not to be found for this lower income person. 

As for being “squeezed into a fancy tenement,” this claim ignores the needs of many older folks to be rid of the grass mowing and upkeep that larger places require. Sadly, I have watched many aging folks leave the county because they could not find exactly that kind of place. I believe that they still had much to offer to our lives here. However, the limited choices made that impossible.

If it is traffic and a burgeoning population that is of concern, keep in mind that Washington a century or more ago held more residents (about 500, compared with scarcely more than 100 today) and more businesses than even this new chapter offers. The only difference is that the traffic then left a lot more horse manure around. 

As to this being a precedent for much more of the same, only Washington and Sperryville have the sewer facilities to manage it, which leaves this precedent a very limited future.

Overall, an important principle to note is that nothing in the universe stays the same. I, too, love and care “for the protection and preservation of Rappahannock County.” Yet change is the order of existence; nothing can be frozen, including Rappahannock. For myself and many others who care deeply for this place, the vitality of our community requires socioeconomic diversity and other sail adjustments. Rush River Commons fills some of this need, not as a hidden weapon but as a blessed gift. 

While there will certainly be those who disagree over this proposal, discounting those with a different point of view as cloaking “naked development” with “social do-gooding” is neither helpful nor accurate. As Ms. Gresinger opined in “Adjust your sails,” a viable future for our wonderful county requires managing change — not waging a war on it. Let us be about doing that management/adjustment carefully and intentionally in this and every case.

The writer is the former rector of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington and lives in Amissville.


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