Know your neighbors. This advice was given to the developers of the Intervale hotel project at last Thursday's planning board meeting.
I have mixed emotions about the project because Valley Independent Pharmacy could benefit from the traffic such a hotel could bring. On the other hand, I am a 30-year resident of the Route 16A Intervale, lower Bartlett community. I chose to open a pharmacy here because it was away from the retail jungle. It was in the neighborhood.
Last Friday I counted over 50 people recreating through the crossroad between 9 a.m. and noon: hiking, biking, jogging, walking. Some with baby carriages. That is not a few people.
The quaint villages of Intervale and Kearsarge have absorbed small and medium businesses into the fabric of the neighborhoods. There are no hotels even remotely as large as the planned one in the mixed commercial/residential zone of Conway. This project will change the community and negatively impact the feel, the nature and the peace in our community.
During peak summer season, as in all communities, we deal with increased traffic loads. Residents of this community know how hard it is to take a left turn onto the highway from the Intervale Cross Road, Hurricane Mountain Road or from Route 16A.
A 90-plus-room hotel has 90-plus cars, employees and vendors. That is a huge load increase.
How will this play out? Let’s start with a traffic light, which will take away the natural aesthetic of the Overlook. How about a rotary in a year, and a year later, another rotary at Hurricane or Route 16A to match the North-South Road?
This large hotel will change the character of our community in ways that will forever be lost — like the ancient tree that won’t survive the bulldozers.
Yes, there was a grand hotel there within the last century, but it was appropriate for the times of the ski trains and the early automobile outings of the day. Does the valley really need 90 more rooms?
My other objection is why planning boards of the towns of the valley continue to approve hotel, motel and vacation home development while perpetuating urban sprawl and barely addressing workforce housing under the guise of their master plans.
We don’t have housing for workforce families. There is no transitional housing for the ever-growing homeless and housing insecure of our valley.
Each time another corporate development is approved for vacationers, it is a hard nut too swallow for those of us dealing with families without appropriate housing. We see it every day at MWV Supports Recover Coalition, the Way Station and Starting Point, and every time a town pays a hotel to put up a homeless person or family.
Is this developer, or any out-of-state developer, doing anything to help with this issue? And how does approving this hotel help our situation with the people who already live here?
Valley voters must stand up and compel our towns to place a moratorium on further hotel, motel and condo development until the housing situation for local families is resolved or much improved. Workforce housing must have a higher priority in every town’s master plan.
Additionally, every business and service industry sector has a staffing crisis. Who is going to staff this luxurious hotel? Let's say they hire mom and dad with two kids. Guess where they live? A campground in the summer and their car in the winter. They can't afford a place to live and there is no place in the current market to rent. How absurd is this, we might ask? It's the reality for more than a few families who staff the service industry in the valley.
Will there be apartments or housing for employees? We as a community are not helping social issues or supporting our own families by allowing unchecked sprawl and development for the benefit of vacationers and corporate interests. Let's hand over one of the state's most iconic views to 95 people at a time and a company that has no interest in our community except the profits it can take away.
The symbol of the argument against this project has become the beautiful maple tree. A grand tree of life that represents our families, our way of life and our need to survive and be healthy and happy.
The people of this valley need reasonable development in an atmosphere of unmet social needs and stress on our families.
As a wise man once said, the needs of the many must outweigh the need of the few or the one — the developer who bought access to our million-dollar view.
Janice Spinney is a business owner in Intervale.