As we approach the two-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, everyone in the community is cognizant of how far we have come in terms of rebuilding. But there is still much work to be done – and tourism is the key to revitalizing the area and boosting this economy.
It is for this reason that I was so disappointed to see the long lines of traffic at the lights this weekend. On one hand, I was thrilled to see tourists coming in droves to the valley. On one of the busiest weekends of the year, the Tough Mudder represents an amazing opportunity to showcase the revitalization of our area and encourage tourists to frequent the shops, galleries, and restaurants and spend time downtown. But on this perfect weekend in August with one of the largest annual events, the thousands of Tough Mudders who drove through Wilmington were forced to sit in long lines of traffic at the center of town. And likely, many of them left feeling frustrated or looking desperately on their GPS for ways to avoid downtown.
The solution is simple. One police officer directing traffic at the corner of Routes 9 and 100 in Wilmington would have completely resolved the problem. During the weekend, I saw an officer about 200 yards away from the intersection collecting tickets. To me, this is a shortsighted approach. While tickets bring in income in the short run, a vibrant downtown and a pleasant experience in Wilmington represent a long-term investment in the region. We want tourists to love their experience here and return again and again to the village.
Long lines of traffic are not appealing to anyone, resident or tourist, and will have the opposite effect of driving people away from our commercial centers. This weekend we missed an opportunity to show off how great this valley is.