The EB-5 virus
To the Editor:
Over the past several years, we, the population of the Northeast Kingdom, have been made aware by the news media of a different kind of virus roaming the area. First we heard of the Chicken virus, then the West Nile virus, the H1N1 virus, the Triple EEE virus and lately the EB-5 virus (money virus). Some are dangerous to health and life but the EB-5 is a very questionable virus. It was first imported by a consortium of big-wigs from Europe and Asia who had half a million in pocket change to come legally into our country. It first made it's appearance at the Jay Peak Resort and the whole area was transformed overnight. But in the meantime the 48 room hotel built only in 1974 was demolished and the State Side Chalet was also demolished for progress. We now see four new hotels, dozens of new condos, a water park and an ice arena! Oh, we don't want to forget the multilevel garage!
All is well and dandy for the Jay Peak side of the mountain and area but then the EB-5 consortium came down the 242 road and into the valley of Orleans County. And now I really question the frugality of it's activity. I guess it's too late for the Spates block since it will be demolished again in the name of progress. I realize that the South side of Main Street from Second to Central Street was almost dead over the past many years. But will the new Renaissance block attract new business? I'm afraid it might not because rentals of it's space will be too expensive for the local merchants and when Wal-Mart opens it's doors on the Derby Road, you will see the Main Street go downhill again!
Now we read and hear that the EB-5 program is putting a lot of pressure to develop the Waterfront Plaza. A communique by this writer about 7 years ago with Pomerleau's Real Estate indicated to me that they had no interest to develop further the Plaza and that they were completely against this! So, what's going on?
I have been a citizen of the Newport area all my life and do not regret the buildings that are there now as well as a good portion of the citizens of the Newport and area. The Vista building is a perfect place and central to the shoppers of Newport and around. Also the big building with Rite-Aid, bowling alley, Hoagies, Suzie-Lynn's and lots of other businesses on the Causeway Plaza are doing a swell job in providing to the citizens of Newport and Orleans County. Granted, we know that some buildings need repairs and touch-ups but the idea of moving or demolishing all that is on the Causeway Road is frivolous and not conducive to the general public of the area period.
The initiative by the EB-5 consortium to develop the Causeway Plaza is a delusional fantasy that will cater only to a few of the rich and prosperous people and not to the citizens of the area. We are not a rich Orleans County for are we citizens of Magog or Sherbrooke, Que. nor Burlington, Vt. If the EB-5 program wished to do something big with their foreign money, let them use it to help the small and average citizens of the County and not only to a few to make a buck!
So let's keep a few memories of the good old Newport and stop demolishing more of the city. How many of you citizens of Orleans County will stop at the future plaza to make use of the four story hotel and convention center?
Newport Center, Vt.