Floyd County: On or Off the Beaten Path?
This is a comment to yesterday’s post, Floyd Among the Giants. This seemed a discussion worthy of more.
This is a real conundrum. Of course we want to live in a place that is a nice, comfortable and attractive, and off the beaten path. We want the town and county to survive, even prosper, but it’s chief “product” perhaps is the lifestyle and setting that will be destroyed if enjoyed by too many living too close–or too many at once on a weekend or special event.
That rural places are being discovered is a certainty. That they are increasingly popular as home-building destinations is also certain if you look at what is happening to land prices in places where previously there was a “vacuum” of population.
Perhaps the best we can do for in Floyd County in this netherworld between bucolic isolation and popular exploitation is to 1) decide what’s precious about the place, pace and pleasures we enjoy and 2) prepare to protect them by zoning, by conservation easement, by purchase by entities whose goal is preservation and not mere profit. We can exert our influence on our supervisors to listen to more than the cha-ching of the treasury at the prospect of dollars–regardless of impact on the “commons” of the county.
We MUST put values on our sense of place and common “ownership” of Floyd County that aren’t measured exclusively in revenue. And yet, money talks. Farming is no longer a livelihood. Farmers own the land and can’t pay taxes. And there go open spaces, watersheds, viewsheds, and fertile agricultural soils.
This problem is not going unnoticed, but I haven’t heard a great, unified solution to it. And Floyd is a divided community–about fifty percent would welcome commercial development of any kind if it meant greater convenience and more jobs, even minimum wage.
I do know that, since new residents ARE going to move here, I’d rather have people move here that KNOW what life is like in the winter during ice storms; what it is like when you want Chinese takeout or to see a movie; what it is like living an hour’s round trip from the nearest gallon of milk or expecting any of the other missing “necessities” of life in the towns from which they might hope to move. Most who would expect these things here are so NOT ready for Floyd.
While some bloggers actively promote development of the county and region, most I know are FAR more concerned with keeping the rate of growth very slow and in maintaining the kind of change compatible with the qualities that brought them here in the first place. Many who have moved here have already left and gone back to less isolated places, as I heard today at lunch in town.
Floyd is far from perfect. And I can’t think of any of its problems that will be solved by a massive influx of retirement relocation all at once, or by importing the city amenities–Starbucks, W-mart, and convenience-at-hand–that might come with in-migrants if they don’t plan to come to be adopted by the land and lifestyle rather than to remake it to suit their habits and preferences.
This is a matter actively discussed and of great concern: how to love Floyd County, hope for a prosperous future, have affordable land and jobs for the next generation, and not overwhelm the roads, the economy, the rural feel, and the quiet landscapes in the process.