Friday, August 22, 2014
New Kent (8/21/2014)
Yesterday, on my way back home, I decided to take a diversion to find cheap gas for my car. New Kent County usually has the cheapest gas prices on my daily route and since I do not work in Richmond on Fridays, it was time to fill up the car for the weekend. I decided to drive US 60 all the way to Williamsburg to look for cheap gas and then take the Colonial Parkway the rest of the way.
New Kent County is an up and coming locality, it’s tucked in between Richmond and the Hampton Roads area and it is slowly becoming a place to live and commute from. As such it is an example of contrast. You have areas that are heavily build up and developed, expensive wineries and more poor/rural areas. Today’s photograph is a prime example of this. I drove by this abandoned group of buildings, located right along US 60. As you can see it is completely abandoned and someone even thought it was an excellent place to dump an old recliner. A friend of mine looked at the photograph and was taken aback by what appears to be a fairly new metal roof on part of the abandoned building. In other words someone try to fix the place up but gave up mid-point. From the looks of it the building might have been an old motel, or maybe just a few apartments.
Going a little further along US 60 you can find an expensive sub-division. It is a prime example of urban sprawl. The development is along part of the Chickahominy River and it is really very nice. However, if you need groceries, you are forced to drive at least 20 minutes or more down the road to find the nearest grocery store in Toano. There is a convenience store around the corner, but you pay more for less choice and lesser quality.
As European I often still have a difficult time wrapping my head around it all, but then I take the car to go grocery shopping at a supermarket less than 5 minutes from my home. I wish I could take the bike, but my excuse is that US 17 in York County is too dangerous for bikes and that I would be foolish to ride there. Talking with our county’s planners we are told this highway is a thoroughfare and not for bikes. Makes you wonder why all the stores are on that street. But even if we bike, there is no bicycle parking near the store.
Back to urban sprawl and New Kent County. I find this photograph is so darn indicative of what is going on in many rural counties. Some owners of desirable tracts of land are able to get rich and move out of the counties by selling their land to developers, while others in the county suffer. I am sure that the establishment I took a picture of was a thriving county store/gas station that employed a few people, but the big corporate world somehow out-competed them. People had cars and could easily drive to Walmart and other stores like that in the “big” town; closing these county stores forever and leaving them to crumble to become evidence of a very different past. They become blight of the neighborhood and people become more cavalier about it. People loose pride in their surroundings, so why drive to the sanitary dump when you can get rid of that old recliner right there in that parking lot of the abandoned building? No it is not just New Kent, even here you see mattresses just tossed out along the side of the road. What is society coming to if we do not appreciate our surroundings, nature, and the places we live? As society we are poisoning ourselves by fouling up the only place we can live, mother earth.