Short-term gain, long-term pain

Published 9:29 pm Thursday, May 7, 2015

To the editor:

Many decades ago, the Suffolk area, mostly known as Nansemond County, was poor, sprawling and rural. It had two valuable assets — Amedeo Obici’s peanuts and abundant lakes.

In one case, long-term vision paid off: Obici created Planters Peanuts, still very profitable today and highly beneficial to Suffolk.

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In the other case, the powers-that-be decided to make a quick profit by selling Suffolk’s water-supply lakes to Norfolk and Portsmouth. Today, and because of that decision, Suffolk’s water rates are the highest in Tidewater.

Short-term gain has resulted in long-term pain.

Now Suffolk city fathers face a similar choice. The land Obici donated to the city for a place of healing can be sold for a quick profit, or it could be retained as a long-term asset for the city — a healing garden/park/gathering place with serene river vistas, or 224 apartments and another strip mall.

Nurture the land and trees and river or pave it over. The decision will be irrevocable. Nobody razes existing apartments to restore green space.

The argument that we already have Lake Meade Park is foolish. It is an excellent facility for small children, teen skateboarders, tennis players and walkers. But a healing garden/park/gathering space with serene river vistas it is not.

One cannot even approach Lake Meade, as Portsmouth has put “No Trespassing” signs all along the walking trail to protect “their” water from Suffolk heathens. The primary views in Lake Meade Park are of Farm Fresh’s dumpsters, a cemetery (serene, I grant you) and a water tower.

More than 2,000 Suffolk citizens — probably the ones most affected by traffic and real estate changes — have signed a petition urging the powers-that-be to create a park on Mr. Obici’s land.

City Council, please take the wise, long-term view and eschew the short-term gain.

“Biff” Andrews