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(Ref. "Five Stages of St. Helena’s decline," July 11). Oh my, oh my, Nancy Dervin. You used 924 words to say “no Adams Street hotel.” You assaulted us with all those words and missed the point. Well, actually two points. First, you missed -- as did our leaders -- Jim Collins’ key statements. Right at the top of his discourse: “Decline can be avoided” and “Decline can be detected.”

We didn’t have to get here. But an embarrassing 40-year lack of leadership and terrible sense of timing have got us on our last legs? Just listen to these sad but true facts:

*Mayor Lowell Smith laid down on the train tracks to keep trains out. City Manager Bert Johansson told the city that the reason to keep the 420 total train passengers on the train was because our merchants couldn’t handle that kind of foot traffic. BTW, it would have been impossible for every train every day of the year to be full. But that was the “official” scare copy. We were told that those train passenger visitors coming up to spend some bucks here (without taking up parking spaces) would all have to pee. A lie -- trains have restrooms. But, 420 auto passengers were to be welcomed to come pee in St. Helena.

*A successful luxury women’s wear store on Main Street, On The Vine, sold lovely items with some tops and shirts starting at $650. Co-owner Bill Word told me that before America’s 2009 economic meltdown, his clients put their credit cards on the counter, and just kept buying. They never came back to St. Helena when the economy turned around. He said that all the other towns in the valley had projects in the pipeline and shovel ready when capital became available again -- except St. Helena.

*Listen to Rene Sculatti at Amelia Claire in the May 30 Star, reminiscing about the good old days of St. Helena retailing; “Those days were great, it was so easy. You couldn’t even keep them away … ”

Then you missed your second point when you closed this tome with an anti-hotel rallying cry. Like all the other “furious fews” you never once offered an alternate solution to keeping St. Helena alive for another 200 years. So far, the “furious fews” have only told us that a couple of guys want to walk their dogs on the river. That worth $20 million to you? Think about it -- the dogs don’t know they are on the river, nor do they care. I see happy dogs (and their companions) at Meily Park socializing and chasing tennis balls every day. (Only 450 words).

Bill Ryan

St. Helena

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