DO TAX DOLLARS TRUMP MEMORIES…?

Growing up in rural Southeastern Ohio I was nightly treated to an experience that I have repeated only during massive power outages here at the other end of the state: a sky filled with stars. Light pollution, even here on the fringe of Cuyaghoga County, masks nearly all the stars in the night sky. Light pollution has become so ubiquitous in the United States that most ground-based telescopes are rendered useless. We are losing our dark. There was another experience I had growing up along the Ohio River that also depended upon a dearth of artificial light, going to a Drive-In Theater. I have found memories of watching double features, first with my father and later with my first serious girlfriend, at the two local Drive-Ins near my home. I don't know how many Drive-Ins remain in 2015, but I know that one, The Parkway Drive-In on Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville, Tennessee, is threatened by the construction of a Walmart, with all the attendant searingly bright parking lot lights. Over the past 10 years I've read of many objections to the construction of a Walmart---traffic, noise, crime, devastated local businesses---but this is a first. Businesses like the Parkway are rare, and daily growing more so. There is nothing rare about a Walmart. (In fact they are so ubiquitous that the company could shut down five stores in the blink of an eye and not give a shit about the people who worked there.) Sadly, I expect the voices of the people who want to save the Parkway to be ignored by those with the power to block a Walmart for simple financial reasons: the tax base provided by a Walmart will far exceed that of a Drive-In and those people will make the expected sympathetic noises but then disingenuously lament that their hands are tied as they gleefully count the dollars that will enrich their personal power base. I wish the people fighting to save the Parkway well, but they have a very difficult, uphill battle before them. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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