Meadowview, Virginia a Great Place to Visit
by Lewis Loflin
On a sunny Thursday I took a drive to Meadowview, Virginia. For some time I've been watching and have been critical of the fortune in taxpayer funds dumped into the community to "revitalize" the town.
I warned ten years ago nothing would come of this in the form of private sector jobs or any real economy outside government grant farming. For the most part I was proven right. Let's take a tour of Meadowview, Virginia after ten years of government economic development efforts.
View all the photos at Flickr.com.
First, a little history. May 14, 2001 BHC reported the following:
Meadowview residents seek state grant to revive town...are working with staff from Emory & Henry College's Appalachian Center for Community Services to pursue the grant, offered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
"There is such a potential to make a better place for everyone to enjoy," said resident Pauline Buckles, picturing future playgrounds and antiques stores, an ice cream shop and a community center. "We just have all these dreams for Meadowview."
ACCS staff said such dreams have a good chance of materializing. "It's coming from the community up," said Scott Tate of ACCS. "We have every reason to believe (the grant) could be approved," said Tal Stanley, a Meadowview resident and ACCS staff member...
If the planning grant is approved, the consultants and planners could be finished their work within a year, Stanley said. Then, ACCS staff, working with local residents, would submit applications for VDHC community development block grants, which would fund the physical improvements. "The energy for this project comes from within Meadowview and has been a long time in building," said Stanley. "It's just really inspiring."
Yet in 2004 they were back for more government money. Quoting BHC December 8, 2004:
MEADOWVIEW - A small group of people from varying backgrounds met Tuesday with a common goal - revitalizing their community Meadowview First, a nonprofit organization, and aims to reinvent this Washington County town. "This community will not be like the communities in the '40s and '50s," said Tal Stanley, a professor at nearby Emory & Henry College. "But with the leadership of people, (we will meet) the needs of all people here and young people will want to settle..."
As of 2011 after spending a fortune in government grants, there's little to show it. After spending piles of taxpayer cash for improvements at the town square, there exists only one actual private sector business. Pictured above is the Meadowview Farmers' Guild. The wonderful restored building is a jewel and I'd advise everyone to visit.
They have local handicrafts and gifts, and with the attached restaurant was the only private sector business I found open in Meadowview on a Thursday besides the local farm supply. For more information visit www.meadowviewfarmersguild.com.
Attached to the Meadowview Farmers' Guild the Harvest Table Restaurant. Note that none of the above were paid for by tax dollars according to the ladies I spoke to. If one likes classic woodwork polished to a high sheen this and the Farmers' Guild is the place to be. Please visit both.
Here is the old Meadowview Depot. They plan to spend about $60,000 I believe with tax dollars to move it back a few feet to save it from being torn down by the railroad. I'll bet they'll get another several million in grants to fix it up for "tourism." Like the millions spent in Bristol, Dante, etc. on these kind of scams I'm certain it will amount to nothing.
Across the square directly in front of the Meadowview Farmers' Guild is this ruined building. The rest of the shots taken from Meadowview Square speak for themselves. The condition of the rest of the building other than the clinic are not this bad, but are still vacant and in disrepair.
Posted March 2011
Note they are also using government grants to construct a playground. Wonder how many jobs that will create? Most disturbing is the entire time I was there I saw virtually no traffic from any direction and the Meadowview Farmers' Guild and the Harvest Table Restaurant were empty. There were a few people in the clinic, but that was mostly empty too.
While I wish them the best, I think they need to stop wasting our tax dollars on this nonsense.
Letter to the Editor, printed BHC, May 29, 2001. Sadly I was proven right again.
Re: Meadowview seeks grant to revive town.
This is in regard to "Meadowview seeks grant to revive town." (Herald Courier 5/15/01) As a former property owner in nearby Lodi, I know Meadowview doesn't need a bunch of consultants and an ice cream shop that Pauline Buckles dreams of. They need to face real problems to save the town.
Meadowview is proof again why present economic policies are a failure and need to be reconsidered. Millions in corporate welfare/industrial development, I-81, E&H College, and high-class retirement communities in Abingdon have produced no real jobs. Infrastructure is not the problem, low wage scales and a massive income gap is.
We suffer a chronic cycle of low wages that drive-out most skilled workers, leaving little chance of getting better jobs or real industry into the region. Then we waste millions subsidizing low-wage, low-skilled jobs such as answering the phone that pay little more than Wal-Mart. How many more new highways do we build before that economic "dream" comes true?
The lack of a substantial middle-class is another problem. The winners are government workers, multi-income retirees, professionals, and business owners. The losers are the retired poor living on $525 a month and the massive number of working poor who work two or more jobs with no benefits. This is also at the heart of our housing problems because cost reflects the winners.
We need to fix what we have, not more welfare or shell buildings. Break the poverty cycle and reduce the income gap or a lot more than Meadowview will disappear.