The recent article regarding Richard Francisco’s plans for his First Street properties triggers questions for us all. “It’s about the future,” claims Francisco. Indeed, that is the crux. What do we South Enders and Langleyites want in the future? Equally important, how do we steward the present as we move into that future? Francisco’s design will drastically change the character of our lovely village. When I came to this island four years ago, Langley nestled itself into my heart and proclaimed herself “home.” Had I encountered the three-story complex Francisco hopes to build, I sincerely doubt I would have had that experience. What of visitors to our alluring town? Won’t such monolithic structures be off-putting?
The proposed structures will block both water views and incoming sunlight for buildings across from them. Construction along the bluff is questionable in terms of environmental impact, not to mention the formidable cost of ensuring proper design and engineering. Won’t such costs limit future ownership and cripple any future business success? What about the character of downtown Langley itself?
If Mr. Francisco is serious that, “It’s not about me …” why has he allowed his Edgecliff restaurant property to remain idle and empty for years? Does that truly demonstrate concern for the community?
The city council and those responsible for planning, zoning, and the direction of the city’s future must make a concerted effort to create cohesive, consistent guidelines and regulations regarding what the future looks like and what will be permitted. That must include realities such as the condition of current buildings (the Dog House for example) and the actual feasibility of preservation, restoration, or demolition. Working toward compromises that retain the character of the past and the iconic presence of historical facades while realistically facing what present and future businesses need to succeed is not a simple task, but it is definitely one in which conscientious handling will benefit all of us. I hope our decision makers will focus on the welfare of the entire community and not on personal alliances or owed favors. It is indeed about our future.