2008 lies ahead in all its magnificent blankness, empty pages in a new notebook waiting to be written in. What will this year bring? What will fill these pages — joy and laughter, sorrow and tears, some of each?
This is the time for the annual taking-stock-of-our-lives assessment as we embark upon the new journey of a new year. It’s the time for new promises — resolutions — to take better care of our bodies, our families, our lives, our town, our planet.
It’s time to start over, our hearts filled with hope renewed. Maybe this year will be different. Maybe the failures and demons of the year just laid to rest won’t return to haunt us.
Maybe this year, humankind will find a way to live in peace — though we’re not exactly off to a promising start. Maybe this will be the year global leaders wake up to the reality of the world’s climate crisis and take the urgently needed steps to deal with it.
Maybe 2008 will be the year the revitalization of downtown Riverhead finally begins. Maybe this year the promise of EPCAL will begin to be fulfilled. This year, maybe state legislators will put aside parochial agendas and finally correct the state aid to education formula, which shortchanges Long Island school districts and has Long Island taxpayers carrying a disproportionate burden of the cost of public education.
There are so many lingering problems and issues, it’s mind-boggling.
Then there are the newer ones, like Broadwater. 2008 will be a year of decision for Broadwater, a proposal that could forever change the eastern Long Island Sound.
I used to wish for a crystal ball into which I might peer to see what lies ahead. Now, from the vantage point of my life’s experience — a half-century’s worth — I realize I prefer the tantalizing mystery and unabashed hope of the blank pages we stare at each January 1. It allows one to dream, to wonder, to hope. But then again, I was never one to peek at the last page of a mystery novel to find out how everything works out. I much prefer the suspense of the unknown. And the promise it holds.
My New Year’s wishes for Riverhead in 2008:
o Shell Oil and TransCanada are sent packing and the Broadwater proposal is decisively rejected by the state and federal governments.
o Apollo either moves forward or bows out, expeditiously either way, so downtown revitalization can become a reality, with or without them. (Dare I wish for the opening of the Suffolk Theatre? No, I suppose not.)
o The Town Board stops entertaining unrealistic proposals for EPCAL, including mega-theme parks, like the Riverhead Resorts proposal, and concentrates instead on basic issues like vehicular access and site infrastructure while it revisits and updates the redevelopment plan drafted more than a decade ago.
o The infusion of new blood on the Town Board in the persons of Tim Buckley and James Wooten makes the board more functional and less political, and town government begins to live up to the motto, “putting Riverhead first.”
o Commercial property tax assessments, thanks to the downturn in the residential real estate market, rise, forcing commercial properties to pay a greater share of the tax burden and finally giving homeowners some property tax relief.
o All Riverhead schools come off the state’s “need improvement” list. The district’s new superintendent remains fresh and enthusiastic about her new assignment. The school district administration and faculty learn better communication and refocus their respective energies on the top priority for all: providing our children with an excellent education.
o People who live in or just pass through our lovely town put trash where it belongs and quit littering our streets and highways.
o And last, but not least, we all learn tolerance and understanding, and live together in peace and harmony, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or political affiliation.
Hey, I can dream — can’t I?