Not long ago, in the land we fondly refer to as the Township of Sparta, where the sun would break through the September sky and its rays would bathe the crisp valley air over west mountain, schoolchildren would behold golden cornstalks and cattle grazing in a farmer’s field on their way to the public high school. [...]
You were at once starkly reminded why you so deeply loved this town — you knew in your heart, secretly, it was a slice of heaven on Earth. You knew you had returned to Sparta at night when you crested the hill on Route 15 and the road faded to black, lit only by the moonlight. [...]
When we speak of the rural character of Sparta, it meant something very different than most understand it to mean today. It wasn’t really the safety of the town or the restaurants or the conveniences (there were very few, save for a bank, post office, the A&P, and Central Pizza) that attracted the natives to Sparta. Instead, it was the sheer beauty of the countryside, the hills, the lakes, parks, the bears, foxes, coyotes and eagles, the unadulterated mountains.
Indeed, it was the utter lack of conveniences and development that attracted both professionals and working classes alike. This was the secret allure of the town. You didn’t have to fight for a parking space at the A&P or the National Bank. You didn’t have to sit in traffic but for a few minutes anywhere in town. [...] You didn’t mind that there were only four restaurants in town, one of which was a pizzeria. You didn’t mind for a simple and profoundly beautiful reason — the very absence of these so-called “conveniences” cast the foundation upon which the (once) rural and bucolic character of this town was built.
Hence, the discussion today of warehouses versus mega-warehouses and the redrafting and retooling of one misguided ordinance, and whether a developer is rail dependent or not, has strayed so far from the founding vision of this town, — as evidenced by the early master plans, — as a rural village that seeks to protect its natural environment and resources. This lack of focus and misdirection from our city and armchair planners and boards who have not studied the roots and history of this town are sacrilege.
The folks from the eastern counties of the state moving to and settling in Sparta are not craving the conveniences, congestion and commercial development that they deliberately escaped from with their families. They do not long for the life they left because they acutely understand the diminished quality of life that those conveniences, congestion and development all bring.
Any one of these folks will tell you that the property taxes in those eastern counties that are overrun by development, congestion, noise and pollution, are higher than what we endure here in Sparta. But we continue to endure and work to pay our taxes, however high they may be, to keep development, not just warehouses, but all development, to a minimum, all in exchange for a better and different quality of life. [...]
Sparta is a choice like all decisions in life. It’s a choice to live and raise a family in a rural residential town where commercial and economic development were intended to be bridled and kept at a minimum. For decades past, the natives enjoyed a fulfilling and rewarding life in a rural Sparta without commercial development and where the sun would break through the September sky and its rays would bathe the crisp valley air over west mountain.
It’s time to return to our roots.