Friday, July 8, 2016

Insight - Progress and moving forward - By Michelle Libby

It seems like when we ask for progress we don’t always like what the results are. We ask for certain stores. They have to go somewhere. We ask for more variety in our restaurants. They need a place to set up shop. 

As it happens, more and more of our open fields and wooded areas are being developed at an alarming rate. Places that were never touched 10 years ago are now being sold by my generation and turned into housing developments and businesses. 

This past weekend, my husband and I were driving in an ATV around the dirt roads of our camp, when we came upon an area that had been clear cut. It wasn’t on the water and there were no other houses around. It was just a big open, barren plot carved into the side of the hill. 

Here in Windham one of the most obvious new construction locations is on Route 302 on the Portland side of the rotary. Dollar General is building a new store in what was once an open field. I know I’ve had time to adjust to this since the land has been for sale for years. When it finally happened I was a bit sad. Not for Dollar General, I hear it’s a great store, but for what’s to come next. It’s only a matter of time before the lots next to that store sell and more businesses will build to suit their needs. Soon the area east of the rotary will be developed and the open land where the tall grass used to blow in the breeze will only be a memory for those who have lived in town for more than a few years. 

I’m not sure if this means I’m getting old or sentimental, but I long for the days when I could drive to see open pasture land or walk in the undeveloped woods. I understand now why there are groups like the Windham Land Trust and Loon Echo Land Trust. We need to save some of these spaces so that our children’s children will have the opportunity to hike out in the woods and actually have the chance to stretch their legs without running into a development. 

Progress is a good thing as long as we are also protecting some of the land to keep it as it is – a beautiful part of Windham and Raymond that will be used for recreation when we need to get away from progress.

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