Op-Ed: Support Article #25

When folks complain about Conway’s overdevelopment, I often reference the family lore about my mom’s Basset hound, Betsy. Back in the ’50s on our family homestead, Betsy used to waddle out into the middle of West Side Road, find a sunny spot, and take a nap. Nowadays, with tourist traffic stretching back to Washington Street on busy summer days, it’s hard to picture that quiet Conway where a dog could peacefully snooze in the middle of the road.

I understand why many of us resist the idea of any growth in Conway. Since my own childhood in the ’80s, I’ve seen tremendous change in town, not all of it positive. Is there a part of me that wishes we could magically turn back time and find Betsy napping safely in the road? Absolutely.

But the question I have heard asked recently in relation to this year’s warrant — “Do we want more people in Conway?” — is a distraction. Conway is one of New England’s most desirable destinations. The real question isn’t whether we want more growth — it’s whether we want to direct how that inevitable growth unfolds or just let it happen to us, like we have over the last many decades.

My hope for Conway’s future is for a rich, multigenerational community where local people of all ages can continue to thrive. I want a community where our kids and grandkids can grow up, stay in the place they love, find a home they can afford, and build a life and family. I want a community where our teachers can live where they teach, and where the hardworking young mom waiting your table or checking out your groceries didn’t have to commute into their job from an hour away.

If you share this vision, I urge you to support Article 25, the community revitalization tax relief incentive. This ordinance, crafted by our new town planner, gives our local leaders an important new tool to stimulate the development of affordable housing. Let’s ensure that as our town grows it does so in a way that benefits local people.

If we don’t learn from the past and support smart growth, we won’t avoid growth altogether — we’ll just get more of the kind we never wanted. Let’s prioritize the future housing we need for the next generation and for the working families that make our community what it is. Betsy the Basset hound supports Article 25. You should, too.