As a 25-year resident of St. Helena, it has been painful to watch an endless cycle of proposals for use of the Adams Street property get turned down, leaving idle what is likely our city’s most viable option for desperately needed new revenue.
And since there is no end in sight for this revolving door of 'no', I’d like to suggest we start a pool to see who can make the best guess as to when something will be decided about this rarefied piece of land. The person who gets closest wins 25 percent of the pot while the city gets the rest. If history repeats itself, we can renew the wager for decades. Just think of the money we’d make.
If that idea doesn’t spark interest among our city leaders, however, it is their responsibility to take charge and do something that will positively impact, maybe even salvage, St. Helena’s long-term health and viability. Like the vocal residents writing letters and posting doom-and- gloom announcements on social media, I too don’t want to lose our small-town charm, but I also don’t want to continue to see our roads, sidewalks and parks crumble, our taxes go up or our water rates continue to skyrocket.
As we see daily in our news feeds and newspapers, the loudest voices seem to get the most attention, something that has been an unfortunate trend in St. Helena for far too long. Yes, 100 people showed up at City Council to protest the latest proposal for Adams Street. Does that mean the remaining 98-plus percent of our population are opposed to preserving our agricultural history for future generations? I would say not, but I would say that many of us are just getting tired of it all.
Satirist Will Durst writes, “The American people want better schools and roads by paying fewer taxes.” We in St. Helena want the same but without doing anything differently. It’s time we stop giving lip service, forming committees and doing studies and start taking action as some level of hotel development is the best option for a tourist destination to raise meaningful revenue.
If our city leaders have been swayed to believe we can’t do this without harming our community, then maybe we need decisive leaders who won’t sit by while thousands of people drive through our town on their way to spending revenue-generating dollars elsewhere.