Like asphalt? Stay in town

Regarding the debate between telecom magnate Thomas H. Sullivan and Blenheim Road residents [Cover story, "Highway man– Whose road is it anyway?" August 12, 2004], it should go without saying that it's immoral and undemocratic for one person with immense wealth to ride roughshod over his neighbors.

But there's another aspect of this situation that should be brought to light to increase understanding between people– some of us cherish the countryside and don't want it "civilized."

I happened to hear the Blenheim Road discussion between the editor of the Hook and the WINA radio morning crew on the day that the Hook came out on the stands. Two of the three on-air radio "personalities" seemed incredulous (and a bit insolent) that anyone could possibly object to a person paving the road for everyone at his own expense. Their comments illustrate an attitude toward our natural world that's much too prevalent in our society: pave it over!

Yes, many people are happy to live in a manmade world of concrete and asphalt, far removed from the wonders of nature. But there are other folks like me who value the peacefulness and beauty of the countryside– what little is left of it.

And that's the point: The countryside is fast disappearing. There is absolutely no need for people who do not enjoy rural areas to move to the country and then try to "civilize" it. People like Sullivan who want paved roads, faster traffic, and not so many trees, wildflowers, and wildlife should move close to town where their preferences can be satisfied without destroying yet more of our natural environment.

As a related aside– because the Blenheim Road issue revolves around the concept of nature lovers versus city people– the WINA discussion included the inability of wealthy novelist John Grisham to get permission for lights at his ball field south of Charlottesville.

Luckily for those who enjoy seeing the night sky instead of light pollution from a game field's lights, Charlottesville has an active community of optical astronomers who also want to see the night sky. Otherwise, the "country folk" might have been simply ridiculed for opposing bright lights at night in a rural area, as if the ability to observe the night sky is totally unimportant.

It's not necessary for wealthy individuals to live in rural areas if that environment does not suit them. There are already too few of these areas for the rest of us who truly appreciate them.

Marlene A. Condon