Not too Late
The permit was recently approved by the Manchester Village council for the construction of an 85 room hotel/motel /restaurant on the site of the now defunct Village Country Inn located on Main Street (Route 7A).
The architectural plans for the new hotel presented an attractive landscape structure. There were some questions and concerns about the proposed project; these were addressed by the Village review board prior to final approval.
The approval has received enthusiastic endorsement in an editorial in the Sept. 27 issue of The Journal. The author of the editorial sees a pressing need for new hotels in the area, and looks forward to the additional approval for the construction of a Turkish style hotel and spa in Manchester.
Envisioned, are promises to use local workers and materials for the projects. Envisioned also, is the likelihood of attracting a new and varied population of visitors to the Manchester area, to say nothing of the employment opportunities (85 projected for the Village, 320 mentioned for the Turkish hotel (vast differences in numbers were not discussed and are likely not final).
The fine, historic, but dilapidated Village Country Inn is sadly ready for demolition. It has been an eyesore and a fire hazard in the Village for a long time. What to do with this prime property now seems to be a solved and a "fait accompli."
As one of those somewhat opposed to the idea of a new hotel and restaurant being built on this particular site, I would like to express some of my reservations and concerns, and mention some of the ideas I have had for the property. Though the project is now approved, some modifications could possibly still be entertained.
First off is the question of the "need" for a new hotel in the area (a check with the many attractive accommodations facilities available in the Village area might reveal they have many high occupancy rates and that indeed more hotel rooms are needed).
What I think the Village could benefit from is an upscale garden type condominium structure. This idea has never garnered much interest in the council, but, it is worth registering, that I have had numerous statements of interest and approval for such an idea. It would provide our moderately senior population the opportunity for simplified single floor elegant independent living space. Many residents prefer the independent living and ownership aspect of such a facility rather than the more assisted living excellent facilities provided by places such as Equinox Village).
A condo unit would provide a welcome base of new taxpaying residents.
Arguably, the proposed hotel/restaurant could cause considerable traffic congestion along the narrow main street, while a condo, with its own underground parking, would not.
A last reservation relates to the use of the fine piece of property directly across Main street from the hotel. This property once housed a tennis court and a variety of large trees and shrubs. It could make a wonderful "peanut park" for residents of the Village. However, the plans call for it to become a parking lot! Is it the reliving of the classic words of the great poet/songwriter Joni Mitchell - "when you don't know what to do, put up a parking lot." We will create a new Village eyesore in the memory of the demolished Country Inn.
C. Kirk Osterlund, M.D.
Thorp Prof. Med. McGill University
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