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Brave New Restauranteurs And Oh So Public Politicians

What to love and loathe about living in East Greenwich this week.


RAVE: Downtown EG is getting an extreme makeover as and have new owners who are giving their establishments new! improved! looks.

So that’s all well and good and let’s all hope they make a success of it. After all, there’s no denying that opening a new restaurant whether it’s your first or fortieth entails risk, usually lots of it. I read somewhere that that of the half million or so restaurants in the U.S., around 10 to 15 percent are forced to close each year and most of these failures are restaurants that have been open fewer than 3 years.

Here’s to wishing them full tables and full customers.

But our town still suffers from vacant building syndrome. (I don’t know if it was the recent article in the Westerly Sun reminiscing about the place in its days of stapled glory or the fact that I drive past it every day, but the sheer emptiness of this building drives me crazy), the ex-Sunoco on Main (this one also drives me crazy - is the price set too high?), the strip mall where Back to Basics and Shimmer are valiantly holding down the space, the old Cruisers spot, and more than a few unfilled storefronts in the CVS plaza, to name just a few. And now we can potentially add to that list – you know, the one that absolutely had to be built because they had run out of space in the old First Avenue location. I have to admit – USPS has accomplished what many others have tried and failed: I am speechless.

All these zombie building sites are eyesores. The irony is that many sit on what once would have been considered primo pieces of real estate. Once upon a time (that would be about 10 years ago), they might have been snapped up for housing, growth possibilities, industrial uses. Each probably costs more to remove now, in the millions, than they are worth. Good ideas that ordinary people have for them are so prohibitive in expense as to be rendered impossible.

But oops, this is supposed to be a rave – so hideeday and hurrah for anyone brave enough, smart enough – or maybe just nuts enough – to start a new business here or, indeed, anywhere.

RANT: My rant is that as much as I want to, . The fact of the matter is that the man has definitely made poor lifestyle choices. I don’t know if they directly affected his ability to be a public representative but the fact of the matter is, our politicians are – and should be – role models.

But then, who in their right mind would run for office in this country?

We can lament the quality of candidates but you sort of have to be a hubristic, power-hungry narcissist or a complete naïf to volunteer to put your life under the kind of fish-eye lens that have become a status quo in political campaigns these days. 

Very few of our founding fathers or best and brightest would be elected today if they were subject to the same scrutiny and sensationalism that surrounds our candidates now. Thomas Jefferson had children with the teenage daughter of one of his slaves, Alexander Hamilton had an affair with a married woman, John Hancock was thought to be an alcoholic, Benjamin Franklin reveled in his reputation as an old roué.

Not that I am comparing Bob Watson to any of these estimable men for even one nano of a second. But whatever his flaws – and he has many – he has also had more than a few good moments and often was the lone voice of – dare I say it? – reason in certain legislative discussions. Cases in point: Quonset Point. .

I am sure there are able, less controversial people who can – and will – take Bob’s place. And I am sure we will all find things to rant about them as well.

Martha Reynolds June 30, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Good piece, Lisa, and well stated on all points.

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