How to start a real resurgence in Elkins

With all the construction activities in Elkins this summer, and all the new plans in the works, it is starting to have the feel of a real resurgence — like the low point has passed for the town.

The completion of the bike trail connection seems like a statement. With the desperately needed bike routes and lanes then completed (Elkins will be the first with designated bike routes in our region), the town will start to have a different feel. To all but the most jaded of residents it’s kinda exciting.

Elkins Main Street is a good start making plans. To the naysayers who resist the concept of planning for the town: Planning is not really a bad thing, not a socialist plot. It’s the first stage of creating a community that works for everyone. A community that everyone is proud of.

But let’s back up a bit here: before making plans, there needs to be vision. The book of Proverbs nails it: “He who is without vision shall perish.” It seems time to begin the creation of a sweeping, comprehensive vision for Elkins and environs. Like most all of the now-vibrant towns have done, e.g., Staunton, Va., Marietta, Ohio … Actually this stage can be fun, looking at all we have (and not dwelling on what we have lost — sigh, all the historic buildings that were razed) and how to integrate them. The completion of Corridor H is actually a possibility, as is the final phase which is the Elkins bypass.

However, before a grand vision is undertaken, one thing is a prerequisite: There needs to be buy-in by ALL people in the community: prosperous, poor, black, white, etc. There needs to be cooperation among all the many various entities in the area, e.g., city officials, county and state officials, the public school system, the college, Forest Service, private landowners, etc. To the ones out there who resist the changes that will come, I urge you to reconsider. Some feel they may not benefit, but as the song goes, “you gotta have faith”. In the long run EVERYBODY will benefit. To the last holdouts who still won’t get on board, we appeal to you to at least just get out of the way and trust us on this.

Poor people, too? Yes, that was not an error. In fact, one could argue especially the poor people in the area: the vagrants, druggies, and low-lifes need to be gone off the streets of Elkins before family people will feel safe downtown. Yes, this will require more effective policing/sentencing (with community service as the most prevalent sentence), but with concurrent strong counseling/rehab/mental health/employment programs. Maybe I am over-idealistic, but low income does not have to equate to low class, and such folks can show community spirit just as much as the more well-off.

In my next letter, I will go into more details about what must be done to fund these plans.

Andy Stump