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What should we wish for in the Northwest Corner?

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

This is the time of year for new beginnings, when it’s not only advisable but crucial that we look back at what happened during the past year or more and try to look forward to find solutions to problems. We have often compiled wish lists for each of our towns, thinking about the individual challenges facing them and targeting those things that are at the top of our list to be addressed and resolved however possible in the new year.

For 2022, however, there are multiple issues that, while they have been discussed in these pages over time, need revisiting and should become priorities for answers. In January, we will look first, below, at a wish list for each of the Northwest Corner towns. Then, in the ensuing weeks, we will look more in-depth at ongoing problems that have had an impact on the region. Because of the shared quality of the way these concerns affect all our towns, it is important now, as ever, to see the area as a whole, rather than a cluster of municipalities functioning within their own bubbles.

For Salisbury, there is a problem that is now in need of immediate attention, in that the Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a new restaurant for the former firehouse building, and current gym, café and more, in Lakeville center. This makes Lakeville the restaurant capital of the region. But it’s mystifying that in considering the Holley Block affordable housing project one of the major objections has been parking availability, yet in approving another restaurant that will take many more parking spots than the housing, there was only peripheral discussion and no solution defined. Now is the time to solve parking in Lakeville, and the steps to do that will have to be bold, creative and show evidence of flexibility.

In Falls Village, there has been an ongoing dispute over the encroachment of the former firehouse into the property of the adjacent Falls Village Inn. It may only be a few inches that the building overlaps into the Inn’s property, but it is a hindrance to the sale of the firehouse. First Selectman Henry Todd said at last month’s selectmen’s meeting that there had been some interest expressed in the property, but nothing can be done until this is resolved. Now is the time to do that, as Falls Village is having a real renaissance and such interest may wane later if an agreement isn’t reached soon.

Cornwall should receive the federal funding that will accommodate the West Cornwall Wastewater project, which has been long in the planning. This will make a big difference to the opportunities for activity in West Cornwall. The sooner it can be started and completed the better for this center that has been a major destination for visitors and residents for business, recreation and of course viewing the Covered Bridge over the years. And, speaking of destinations, happy 75th to Mohawk Ski Area, which remains a draw for ski enthusiasts of all ages and should prosper for its next 75 years.

Sharon’s challenges will only be helped by a satisfactory solution to the Nuvance/Sharon Hospital service changes. So much of what makes up the fabric of this town, from downtown businesses to homeowners and the school population, is related to the health of the hospital. We also wish that those driving through Sharon abide by the posted speed limits, which would make their appreciation of this town’s Green and center a lot easier.

North Canaan is going through its own revival, and the road work done at the railroad tracks this past summer and fall has contributed to it. Now, there should be careful consideration of the next steps for continued development of the commercial district in order for its current growth to remain successful. Part of that success, as in Lakeville and Kent, will be controlling traffic effectively and finding solutions to the parking dilemma in the town center.

Kent has been moving forward on its StreetScape project, and its progress and completion will make a major difference to this vital town center’s continued success. The Kent Chamber of Commerce has been a model of effectiveness and cooperation for other towns in the region. It should continue on that path, and here’s hoping its new leadership and board will find the best way to keep its attention on the achievement of shared goals for its downtown. Kent’s town government has also been effective through COVID-19 and before, and its planned installation of a hybrid meeting system in its Town Hall will continue that tradition.

In future editorials, we will look at the regional issues that should be solved by cooperation among the towns. The answers won’t be easy but they should be definable as long as communication continues among regional town leaders and state legislators.

As we look at goals for our towns and region this month, we welcome your input in letters to the editor to express your views on what priorities for towns should be for 2022.

Happy New Year to all our readers.

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