Not enough councilors showed up for quorum tonight, so there was no meeting. There was some interesting discussion to be had, regarding the city deciding to borrow from Laconia Savings Bank instead of with the municipal bond bank, and priorities for the next budget cycle. Unfortunately no decisions could be made.
Tomorrow is the BIDPA meeting, and WREN is on the agenda. I’m interested to hear what the members who visited last week have to say to the rest of the board. I talked to one member who said they’d like to see WREN move in immediately, but they also don’t want to lose money on the building. It was an investment, after all.
But inviting WREN would also be an investment.
I spent the weekend going back and forth between Berlin and North Conway, much more so than I usually do. Normally I travel between Berlin and Glen and never make it down to the more sprawl-covered section of town. But this weekend, for some reason, I had to travel south, and what I noticed surprised me.
The distance from Boston or New York to North Conway in many ways is less than the distance from Glen to Berlin. It makes me laugh that all these people want to escape the city, and Conway and Bartlett are where they go. The area certainly has appeal for me, but it has nothing to do with escaping the rat-race. Car after car comes north, and they stop in Conway instead of continuing north.
Someone at the WREN meeting used the word traffic combined with Berlin and I couldn’t hold in the laugh. There are seldom more than a dozen cars stopped at any light, and sometimes that’s in all directions. It is something out of a different era, and even the people living in it don’t realize it.
Even from Gorham to Berlin, the change is evident. Personally, while I love Libby’s, the White Mountain Cafe and some of the other stores and restaurants, the Burger King, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s leave a bit to be desired. Berlin is largely free of the McCulture spreading around the country, and it is better off for it.
I know a few people who bounce in and out of Berlin, spending both a significant amount of their time in the city and away. All of them have a positive perspective on the city. They look and see the things they are happy to see missing, not just the things they wish were there. And they see the new businesses on Main Street and they have hope that the parts they want can come without the parts they don’t.
People who never leave or never visit, however, are the ones who need convincing. Numerous people have said the attitude has to change in Berlin before it can change afar. But the people from afar need only to spend some time in Berlin to see how much of a treasure it is. They will be far easier to convince. It is the people that never leave and have grown accustomed to deriding the city that need the a reorientation.