To the editor:
I am a resident of Onancock who lives a block away from the Historic Onancock School. I am a participant in the efforts of the Onancock Residents Group (ORG). We are a self-funded grassroots group with no leadership or other formal positions.
Although members of the Friends of the Onancock School (FOS) board know our names and where we live and have even visited some of us in our homes, Haydon Rochester still accuses us of being an “outside” group which “refuses to reveal (our) leadership, sources of income, or ultimate intentions for the HOS property or the town itself.”
ORG is comprised of residents of Onancock. Again, our group is entirely self-funded — from our Social Security checks and our savings — and our efforts are our own. We speak for ourselves as well as those of our neighbors who do not because they fear the opprobrium of others who are in favor of a commercially operated performance pavilion.
Both longtime and new neighborhood residents have told us they want constraints on the number of events as well as the number of attendees. And, yes, many residents do feel slighted and disrespected because no mention was made or published about the intended commercial use of the pavilion until the foundation was being laid.
The FOS has repeatedly told us that our failure to know the nature of the performance pavilion is our own — that we could have gathered that information from the Town Council Agenda and minutes. And yet, nowhere in those documents is it at all clear that the pavilion was intended as anything other than a community performance space. Certainly at least those members of the town council who were also on the board of the FOS in March 2022 were aware of the intended use. But apparently they did not think it relevant to advise all of their fellow council members of that use prior to the council vote that permitted construction of a pavilion on school grounds.
Time and again, as we addressed our concerns to the FOS board, we have been stymied and obstructed. We have been told that our concerns about noise cannot be addressed until the pavilion is fully built and operational; we have been told that our concerns about traffic and safety in our neighborhood will somehow be sorted out.
A commercial performance venue is something quite different from a community performance space.
Imagine, if you will, a venue thatpresents amplified events operating a few hundred yards or less from your house. And further imagine one or two amplified events every weekend from May into October.
Maybe you would look forward to listening to the afternoon sound checks and hearing each act’s music inside your house every weekend but is it really such a stretch to think that perhaps not all neighborhood residents want that?
Indeed, that some might actually find it rather disturbing? Also imagine the attendant traffic and parking issues for 500 attendees on the street in front of your house.
As residents who recognize the special place the Historic Onancock School represents as both a community and a cultural center, we want a reasonable compromise.
We don’t want to be force-fed carrots or beaten with sticks simply because we cherish and want to preserve the peace and quiet of our lovely community.