Friday, July 6, 2007

Pickerington? Why not Akron?

I had a chance to visit an Army buddy of mine this week and get a good long view of Pickerington, Oh. As I traversed this Columbus suburb just southeast of the outer rim of I-270, I couldn't help but think about Akron.

If you haven't been to Pickerington, just imagine a series of big, century-old cornfields that have obviously been remade as instant neighborhoods. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of new, just-add-water homes built on cookie-cutter streets and sporting development names like "Pleasant Cove," even though there's no water there.

What absolutely floored me were how many of these developments there are in little old Pickerington. Pickerington! Pickerington! I must have passed several thousand new homes, with signs at the front of their developments that read "nice, family homes starting in the low 200's!!" Meanwhile, the only thing Akron has in the low 200's is our population. We're losing about a thousand people per year, and 200K could be a memory if we can't stop the census bleeding.

Still, how is that this one-time Mayberry can be booming with all these new homes and new families buying them up like iPhones, while Akron can't even maintain its rotary dial subscribers?

I know the macro answer is job, job, jobs. We're losing them, Columbus is gaining them. Still, I can't help but shake my head when a place with a name worth 55 points in Scrabble seems to be a better investment than our five little letters.


Anonymous said...

What I find most disturbing is the loss of family farms. I grew up in a farming community near Bowling Green. When I go home, all I see are developments. In the school district where I teach, more and more housing developments are taking more and more farmland.

I know that farmers get a premium for this land and for many, they are older without someone to take over the farm, but it is still sad. Who is feeding the world these days? Is there a danger that this could come back to bite us?

Thanks for your insights
Elissa Hock

Eric Mansfield said...

Hi Elissa. You make a great point. Where will get our crops to feed these shoulder-to-shoulder communities? What's odd is that some of these instant developments are right next to the one hundred-year-old farm house that used to be the only home on the property.

I realize we need to homes if we're to keep population, but do we always have to do it at the expense of our farm land?

Stay in touch .. Eric

Village Green said...

We can complain all we want about suburbanization, but until we truly recognize that this planet is going to have 8 BILLION mouths to feed within a few short years, we will continue to mindlessly populate and migrate.

People don't want to live in the cities because they are all toxic waste dumps from decades of industrial pollution. So the herds move on to the pristine pastures, wetlands, and forests. Until one day there'll be no more clean areas to suburbanize. Massive species die off in sight? Let's place bets on how many generations of human life are left for this planet.

Jack Hoagland said...

You asked "Still, how is that this one-time Mayberry can be booming with all these new homes and new families buying them up like iPhones, while Akron can't even maintain its rotary dial subscribers?"

Well, here in Pickerington, we have one of the best school systems in the entire state and if you're wondering why the big population blast here... it's due to the schools. If you're not in the retail or the food industry, there are virtually no jobs here unless you drive to Columbus (8 miles).

We're not exactly jumping for joy that our population growth is going crazy either. It creates huge infrastructure issues as you can well imagine. (streets, water/sewage, new school buildings, etc.)


Jack Hoagland