Moberg Column August 14, 2000

From: mttachamber [] via e-mail, disc available
To:  Marietta (Ohio) Times

"Do you have any vacancy?" "We have twelve vacancies. Twelve cabins, twelve vacancies. They moved the highway."

Thus go the opening lines of one of the most chilling movies of last century, Psycho. You have also just had a preview of what life will be in Nelsonville, Marietta and other southeastern Ohio towns and villages if current plans for land acquisition in the Wayne National Forest continue.

Sounds a bit extreme, doesnāt it? Who can imagine that Marietta would become as desolate and dangerous a place as the Bates Motel? Even Nelsonville. Itās a thriving town of substance and economy.

Last week I was treated to a preview of the new road plans in the Nelsonville area. As with many projects, there is land acquisition to accomplish the goal. Sadly, also with many projects, that acquisition process will erode the tax base of the community to the point that those taxpayers who are left will find it unaffordable to maintain their community after the others are driven off.

This is exactly the same process we are witnessing and fighting against in our area. Bit by bit parcels of land fall into the hands of the government. Taxes from that land are no longer paid. The remaining landowners are economically strapped as they try to hold on to land that may have been in their family for decades or more.

Schools become poorer, roads fall into disrepair, fire departments cannot afford equipment and other pieces of the social fabric disappear as the tax funds no longer flow from property owners. The new neighbor refuses to pay his fair share.

In the end, the remaining owners, many of them, find it only wise if not necessary to sell. To the only buyer, the entity that caused the erosion to begin with. Your friendly government.

Next Monday at 12:30 PM at Washington State Community College a hearing will take place on Representative Nancy Hollisterās bill, 441. This bill seeks to put a moratorium on further land purchases by the Wayne for four years. It has passed the House and now moves on to the Senate for consideration.

According to an e-mail being sent by opponents to the legislation, this hearing could well be the most important meeting in the future of the Wayne National Forest. The forces that would take yet more land from our local tax base are gearing up for a battle.

Itās likely that most of you reading this will have little or no interest in this issue at this time. Yet your very futures as residents businesses of the area are at stake as our county continues to suffer erosion of the basic components of a healthy and viable economic community. Jobs, people and the social fabric that holds it all together.

The Forest Service has a plan that calls for open access, development of hunting, fishing and other wildlife activities and the creation of tourist amenities that will promote business to feed the local economy. Yet none of that has happened, nor does it appear eminent.

Quite the opposite has happened in other places with similar situations. The excuse offered up is an inability to afford following through on plans and commitments for development. Yet there always seems to be more money available to acquire the next piece of property further depriving the remaining landowners of tax base support.

What happens in Nelsonville and New Matamoras seems so far away as to be irrelevant to life in Marietta. But itās not. Slowly, surely, the results of these actions will affect us and choke off our economy.

We would be wise to do something when while we can lest we be put into the position of Norman Bates when he discovers the hideous activities going on in his house and asks, "Mother, what have you done?"\


Be informed! Don't allow yourself to be snowed by CARA.

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