From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 5 - 9/28/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

From One Small Town to Another

by Jim and Mary McClung

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I spent a couple of days in the great town of Pinedale. We were on a combination vacation-slash-hunt for a possible new home and fell in love with the folks in Pinedale.

Pinedale is a lot like our home way down here in the Florida Keys and we felt the same sense of community we have had....until recently. And that is the reason I am writing to you.

You see, Islamorada (pronounced "eye-la-more-ah-da") was a small rural community populated by a bunch of locals that fished and trapped seafood for a living, and had a fair amount of tourists each year. About 5 years ago, we were "discovered" by a wealthier segment of the country. Our real estate was cheap yet limited (we live on a chain of islands) and "non-locals" started buying up our homes as vacation spots and rental units for tourists. As a result, our property values are insane and our rents have gone through the roof. Unfortunately, the rate of pay has not increased with the cost of living here, making it almost impossible for the locals to stay and continue the lives that they thought they would always have. Every year we have lost masses of locals and the community we always knew has all but disappeared.

The final blow to our town came when we incorporated two years ago. A small segment of wealthy owners conned us into the change, saying that we would be so much better off governing ourselves instead of letting the county make our decisions for us. They were right in only one part of the decision. Having a local government, run by mostly non-local residents that are not connected to any service industry has given the wealthy property owners the mechanism they need to turn our "small town" into a manicured, perfectly uniform, "no blue-collar" mecca for the elite and well-to-do. They have passed ordinances that will make all of our business signs uniform, forced the closure of homes and businesses that don't meet their standards and are getting ready to create a land-use plan that will make all of our residential neighborhoods "perfect". As a result of the Utopia they see in the future, we have taken on public debt that we cannot carry and are seeing the flight of most people we know away from the town they have lived in for years. And don't even get me started on the corruption and massive wastes of money we already have in our new local government.

So, to all of you that are tempted by the prices you are offered for your property, think twice about what it will do to your neighbors and fellow residents in Pinedale. To all of you that might consider voting for incorporation sometime in the future, be very careful about who you vote into office. Be sure that decisions made about the future of your town don't wind up in the hands of outsiders that have a different outlook for Pinedale than you do. Please take it from folks that have now taken that ride and want off. The local residents of Pinedale have the ability to keep it the way it should be...a great, small American town. You can make it better if you wish....just make sure you get involved and stay involved. It is your town! The future of Pinedale is in your hands. Be very careful with it!

Jim & Mary live in Islamorada, Florida

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