Developers-entrepreneurs and ordinary people must have sprung from very different strains of DNA. How else can you explain the gap between what communities need and what they get?
I remember sarcastically commenting, as I made a daily commute through the small town of Annville, Pa., “Oh, look. Just what Annville needs, another pizza shop.” Here in Richmond, schools are falling apart and growing mold while the city plans to build a new mega-arena. And on North Caicos, we have more than six places to rent a car, but there’s no fire truck.
Some of the discrepancies on North come from public/private expectations, plus the glamour of things we want versus the sometimes-dull things we need. Like kids, we reach for the candy instead of the broccoli.
Yes, it would be nice to have what was started as Royal Reef completed, if only to relieve us of those eyesores at Sandy Point. But do we really need it? There would be some jobs created—maybe—but most of the money a luxury resort makes goes elsewhere. It’s candy.
Meanwhile, where are the “vegetables” that would nourish us? Since the failure of TCI Bank and vandalism of the island’s only ATM, islanders have been tossed back into the era of spending nearly a whole business day getting to Provo and standing in line to cash and deposit money, with business owners given the extra burden of possibly being robbed. We need banking of some sort on North, but no one seems to be addressing that.
And then there is this fire truck issue. Bottle Creek resident Howard Gibbs recently pointed out that North has some trained firemen, but the truck that has long been promised to the island has not appeared. He proposes a fund drive for a truck before another fire occurs. While the idea requires a lot more thought and planning (Who’s in charge of the drive? Who will “own” the truck and maintain it? Will the truck be a gift to the government? Etc.), the proposal is at least a step in the right direction: Let’s meet our needs, first and foremost.
Is it too presumptuous and political for an outsider like me to lecture the island on wants and needs? Am I the mean mom who frowns on dessert when you haven’t cleaned your plate? Probably. But loving a place isn’t confined to those who were born there. Let’s work together to fulfill our true needs.