Washington County is a treasure of both history and historic structures that have somehow survived the onslaught of so-called progress. Many of our historic homes have fallen into unimaginable decay and yet "can-do" people have restored them and made them a usable part of their lives. Many of our historic homes and structures have been well cared for as long as they have existed.
Both scenarios lead us to the character and identity of the rolling countryside and charming towns that are Washington County. Along the way some properties have been destroyed, never again to be considered a part of our history. The abuse of and indiscriminant approval of "special exceptions" has led to the change of character of whole neighborhoods and even our treasured national parks are now threatened by the intrusion of so-called "modern technology" into their viewsheds. What would we give to have the roundhouse back? What a tourist draw that facility would be! The restoration of down-town Hagerstown is remarkable and the facades of the older buildings speak to us of a vitality and beauty that once was and that is hopefully on the way back.
We desperately need an ordinance that would disallow the demolition of our historic homes and structures - that would allow for some sort of incentive for restoration of structures that have deteriorated to a point where they are of questionable use. Perhaps a tax credit of some sort in an amount equal to the cost of restoration? Perhaps a low-interest loan to pay for the restoration? Perhaps a contest for the most innovative use of a building fallen to disrepair. If you have an idea that would make the process of preservation and restoration more attractive, please let your Board of County Commissioners know.
Our uniqueness is at risk, but the citizens must voice their concerns over the continued indiscriminate demolition of our very essence. The commissioners have the power to save our unique character and history. Please let them know that you care and that you want a solution to the continued loss of our historic identity and the erosion of the singular character of Washington County.
Don't forget Three Mile Island
To the editor:
March 28 will mark the 29th anniversary of the Three Mile Island accident near Harrisburg, Pa. It's important to remember this accident because of a renewed interest in nuclear energy.
It's important to remember that the cleanup process was slow and costly, and that it also initiated a protracted decline in the public popularity of nuclear power, exemplifying for many the worst fears about nuclear technology.
The accident at the plant occurred 12 days after the release of the movie "The China Syndrome," which featured Jane Fonda as a news anchor at a California TV station. In the film, a major nuclear plant failure almost happens while Fonda's character and her cameraman Michael Douglas are at a plant doing a series on nuclear power.
She proceeds to raise awareness of how unsafe the plant was. Coincidentally, there is a scene in which Fonda's character speaks with a nuclear safety expert who says that a meltdown could render an area "the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable." The dangers of controlled reactions have been well demonstrated by Three Mile Island and Chernobyl (In 1986 a nuclear reactor exploded and all permanent residents of Chernobyl, Ukraine and the Zone of alienation- a 19 mile zone deemed most dangerous following the reactor's destruction- were evacuated because radiation levels in the area had become unsafe. Contaminated milk was blamed for childhood sicknesses across Europe).
There are better solutions to our energy needs than the use of nuclear reactors. Few new nuclear plants have been built in the United States over the last quarter century, for good reasons. The health risks, security threat and environmental impact far outweigh any benefits of nuclear energy. There are so many better options at our disposal, such as cleaner, safer, renewable fuels like wind, solar and biomass, fuels that don't require finding a place to store casks full of dangerous spent nuclear fuel. Expanding nuclear energy when we have these alternative forms available would be irresponsible.