Letter: Manteo businessman opposes paving behind courthouse

Published 1:55 pm Friday, June 29, 2018

I first came to the Outer Banks in 1953. I was one of five professional dancers who were invited to be in The Lost Colony by the then-choreographer John Lehman. Prior to coming down that summer we had lengthy conversations with John. He described to us in great detail about the Banks, the people, the Lost Colony and history. He was a 100 percent accurate. It was a turning point in my life. I was only in the show two years but whenever I had an opportunity I came down if only for a week or two, and realized that I would have to settle here eventually.

In 1967 I knew the day had come to move to Manteo. I started the Island Gallery & Christmas Shop. It wasn’t very long before I began to be involved in the community. By the end of the 1970s I found myself being elected a commissioner for the Town of Manteo. Under the leadership of the new mayor, John Wilson, we all had several things in common. We loved the town and we loved the people. All seven of us were united in the belief that we could bring the town back from what it had deteriorated to. We wanted to attract people to open businesses, show hospitality and re-develop the Manteo waterfront to something we could be proud of.

We engaged the services of expert advisors to help us accomplish our goals. One of their recommendations to attract new visitors to the area was to produce an annual art show on the waterfront. I volunteered to organize the art show and to produce it every year for 32 years. This was only one part of the many successful projects we undertook. The town now is attractive (having done away with the decaying waterfront) and is attracting a great number of visitors.

The visitors have returned by the hundreds and hundreds. It presents an ongoing basis of events for people of all ages. They come to enjoy the small-town atmosphere, the beautiful waterfront, holiday fireworks, special days like Dare Day, and the Christmas celebration and other cultural and artistic events. They leave the big cities to enjoy all the amenities that a small town offers.

And now to the point of my letter.

I am very distressed that consideration is being given to the idea of pretty much cementing over the entire green space that is behind the old courthouse. Part of the charm of the town and the waterfront are boardwalks, trees, white picket fences and GREEN GRASS. The Dare County Arts Council wants to make that area into another performing space. Personally, I would hope that could be accomplished without the cement.

Being that I am now 93 years of age, I do not have the opportunity to connect with the people involved in the decision-making process. So I am writing this letter-to-the editor so that I can express my deep concern over the well-being of the most wonderful town I know.

Edward Greene, Manteo