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Gauging  the future of Rindge

BIG QUESTIONS AHEAD: How big do we want to become, and what would that mean?

Do you believe that the future is predetermined? If so, then there is no point in reading further because you are in agreement with Rindge’s economic consultant who said, “…development is inevitable; it can’t be stopped.” Of course, he is wrong, just look at Detroit and scores of rust belt cities, which have lost population.

Inevitability of economic development is not foreordained. Nubile women called “Fates” do not dance on the summit of Mount Monadnock determining the status of Rindge’s four corners, the intersection of routes 119 and 202.

Rindge’s residents will have the opportunity to determine Rindge’s future, and whether their oft-stated desire to preserve the town’s New England village charm, tranquility, and uniqueness can be preserved.

I believe that the charrette plan for Rindge’s economic development, which I originally supported, should be withdrawn. There are several reasons for that.

First, the residents of West Rindge Village do not want their locale to change by the introduction of more commercial development, moderate density housing, additional traffic, sidewalks, and zoning ordinance changes. Their wishes should be considered. The ideas of outside “experts,” who visited Rindge for 48 hours, are not as valuable as the wants and needs of West Village residents who have lived and paid taxes here for years and decades.

It would be very unkind and unfriendly for Rindge residents to support changing zoning ordinances designed to increase population density for one part of town and not for where they dwell. If people support moderate density housing it should be for the whole town and not just West Rindge.

Many ideas for developing the four corners are based on phrases and questionable premises. “Rindge is the Gateway to the Monadnock region.” So what. A gateway by itself is a meaningless term. All it means in transportation terms is that it is one of a limited number of points for a region where traffic enters and moves on.

“We want Rindge to be a destination.” This means that some people want more traffic and an increased daily population as a spur to retail shopping.

Rindge has always been a beautiful destination for summer residents, visitors, and people who live here. As far back as the 19th century people came to Rindge to vacation in its natural beauty.

Many people have moved to Rindge to get away from retail destinations, e.g., Route 101A in Nashua. Ogunquit, Maine, is a destination. Try crossing a street there in the summer. If you really want a retail destination, then Franklin Pierce University and Cathedral of the Pines should be turned into outlet stores.

Economic development is overstated as a desirable goal for Rindge. Along with economic development come increased costs, especially for policing. The former Rindge police chief stated that the costs of policing Rindge’s big box stores offset any increased tax revenue they generated. There are now scores of annual police calls involving accidents, shoplifting, bad checks, at the big box stores, and Wal-Mart wants to expand.

The charrette plan is already out of date. Originally, the southeast corner of the four corners was supposed to consist of small shops and senior housing or apartments. Now we have instead an “iconic” American diner and soon to be an iconic New Jersey Turnpike truck stop. The new diner should satisfy the desire for an another place to meet and eat and, therefore, end the need for a coffee shop in West Rindge Village.

According to the economic plan, Rindge, the donut capital of western civilization, needs a bakery in West Rindge. Another bakery is needed like Pool Pond needs anaconda snakes. Rindge no longer needs an arts center because Jaffrey will be developing a large new one.

Rindge’s economic consultant does not recommend developing manufacturing because the town is not next to an airport. He is wrong about manufacturing because small scale and specialized manufacturing exists in the Monadnock region, e.g. New Hampshire Ball Bearings, New England Wood Pellet. Economic development involving manufacturing would be better for Rindge because of higher paying jobs than retail stores, and the profits would not be going to out of state and multi-national corporations. New Hampshire Public Radio recently stated that opportunities exist for New Hampshire based companies to export products overseas due to low costs of American products abroad.

Rindge is a low cost food pantry for northern Massachusetts. When you see a car with out of state plates in Rindge’s large parking lots, remember that most of the money spent by these shoppers does not stay in Rindge. Rindge residents benefit from cheap food also, but the jobs provided are low paying. Information on how many jobs actually go to Rindge residents is lacking.

Discussions of Rindge’s economic future are marked by emotion and a lack of economic statistics. A basic study of the effects of economic development on income levels in Rindge has never been done. It is just assumed to be good.

Reasonable people may differ on Rindge’s future. No one is evil in this matter, and all views should be respectfully heard.

My wife and I moved to Rindge permanently from West Hartford, Conn. Before we left, a national business magazine listed West Hartford as being one of the 10 best towns in America because of quality of life. We decided that Rindge is better.

Rick Sirvint lives in Rindge.

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