Does the prospect of a nursing home in Little Washington give you a queasy feeling? If so, you’re not alone.
There already exist nursing homes at every point of the compass, north, south, east and west of Little Washington. Take a drive. Check them out. They proliferate because we want them. With the aging population, we need them.
But there are other things people want as well: big box stores, bowling alleys, fast food outlets, race car tracks, casinos, amusement parks, office buildings, multiplexes, strip malls, factories, quarries.
Every one of these facilities or operations already exist within an hour’s drive of Little Washington. Any one of these businesses could bring employment and tax revenues to Little Washington. Why not invite them all?
Everyone reading this knows the answer. Because in no time at all Little Washington would be transformed into something else. It would become Front Royal, Charleston, Culpeper, Warrenton, Gainesville, Haymarket. Nothing wrong with those places. We go there all the time. But is that really the future for this little corner of the world? Is this future inevitable?
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. So the saying goes. It would be advisable for anyone weighing in on this issue to visit a few operating nursing homes in the region. Take a good look. Observe the footprint of the facility on the land. Note the space actually required for parking lots and driveways. Take the trouble to count the parked cars at any given time. Watch the traffic in and out of the facility: employees, deliveries, maintenance vehicles, waste removal, ambulances, visitors. How much additional noise is generated? How much lighting is required around the clock, all night long? How much additional security and traffic control?
Without a doubt some people will profit from the installation of such a major business enterprise in Little Washington. Without a doubt tax revenues will increase. If those are the only criteria to be considered it’s a no brainer. But as we well know, these are not the only criteria. There’s also the basket of variables factored in as ‘the quality of life.’
Like many others, I moved to the county because it had not yet been ruined by the improver’s zeal. What makes this place so special is that it isn’t what surrounds it on all points of the compass. When that changes, to the extent it does, it is no longer special, no longer unique, no longer the bucolic oasis amid the madding crowd.
Do we need reminding that everything we want or need is already within an hour’s drive in any direction? Can we still appreciate an open field, the dark night sky, the quiet of a small town, the absence of traffic, the presence of wild animals, the stillness of nature?
As someone of an age who could find himself in an assisted living facility at any time, I wouldn’t mind being settled in a rural location with a view of the Blue Ridge from Page, Greene, Albemarle or Rockingham Counties. In no way would I want to impose on the tranquility and charm of Little Washington.
I’m guided by a simple equation for the protection and preservation of the unique character of the county. If a project requires concrete or asphalt — don’t do it. Yes, I know, that’s a small minority opinion. But one thing is for sure. If a nursing home is constructed in Little Washington the town will be irrevocably and forever changed in ways no one can reliably predict.
The writer lives in Flint Hill