What happened to our quiet, peaceful little county?

Newcomers tell me they came to Floyd County for the peace and quiet. Lifers and long-time residents say our area is known for its laid-back, peaceful lifestyle.

So where’s the quiet? Where’s the laid-back, peaceful lifestyle?

The sound of jackhammers ripped through the town of Floyd this week. A new crosswalk is under construction. Workers continue to put the finishing touches on The Station on South Locust. Tomorrow night will bring throngs to downtown for the Friday Night Jamboree, music at Cafe del Sol and Oddfellas and dinner at any of several eateries. Even with a new municipal parking lot, finding a place to park on a Friday night, Saturdays and some days during the week can be difficult.

Trying to turn left out of the parking lot at the Village Green on Main Street after 3 p.m. can try one’s patience. Traffic headed for Fandango backed up 20 deep or more at the stoplight last weekend.

Over at the County Administration Building on Oxford Street, officials are rushing to put the final details on a “major announcement” of a new business in the town’s industrial park that, we are told, will bring a significant number of new jobs to the county (which we need) along with increases in traffic and demands on the infrastructure (which we may not be able to handle).

My Blackberry chimed with reminders for five appointments and events for today — three of them conflicting with another.

Last night, while attending a wedding reception, somebody remarked: “Remember when there was nothing to do in Floyd? I’m starting to miss the old days.”

Yet Floyd County government faces these times of growth with a budget stretched so tight it could snap at any time. The Sheriff’s Department is laying off deputies because of budget cuts. Other county departments will have to curtail services in the coming year. The Virginia Department of Transportation is running out of money for road maintenance and has no funds for new construction. The Department of Social Services could not fund every request it had for assistance last year.

Growth does not always translate into prosperity nor does it necessarily improve the quality of life. It comes at a price. While changes that bring new business and opportunities to town should be welcome, can they succeed when the town and county governments lack both the planning and resources to handle that growth?

There’s talk of an English pub at the Station on South Locust and an Italian restaurant on Webbs Mill Road but has anyone conducted a demographic study to see if Floyd can support two more restaurants? I doubt it.

Floyd County is awash in grand plans but we are a desert when it comes to strategic planning and focus. No one, to my knowledge, has yet come up with the answer some simple questions: What is it that Floyd wants to be? What’s the goal? What’s the theme? Where’s the focus?

A lot of good people have put their own money on the line to bring change and prosperity to Floyd but they put all of that at risk with government leaders who wander aimlessly in the dark without a road map to the future.

Can Floyd succeed in spite of itself or are we just cooking up a recipe for disaster?

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