Letters: Arguments against Willows project are not fact-based

There has been a lot said about the new plans for The Willows event center [“Developers planning $61M residential project for Willows property, but Nora neighbors unswayed,” April 5]. I have read letters in your publication, seen street signs and petitions, and have heard a lot of misleading information from respectable people in the community. With this in mind, I would like my voice to be heard.

My wife Bobbie and I are longtime residents of the Winston Island Woods neighborhood, which is 400 feet from The Willows main entrance. We have enjoyed a wonderful quality of life. We have seen The Willows in its heyday and now as it has faced challenges from COVID. It is likely to close; we all know that. I cannot blame the owners. They have tried hard to keep it going even as the pandemic has lingered.

I have spent time educating myself on the details of the proposed project and am not only satisfied but convinced it will be a good opportunity for our community. The arguments against it are not based in fact. The proposed redevelopment will not hurt the environment, cause traffic troubles or create an unsightly “monstrosity.”

I do have real concerns, though. What happens if this project is killed? Would the site sit idle and become a prominent eyesore? Would another business enterprise swoop in and create something that would be a detriment to our neighborhood?

As zoned, the owners (current or future) can put a legally permitted business on the property that has no limits on traffic, site improvements or commitment to quality. Why would we want that when we have a respected developer eager to invest in our community and build a top-quality product?

I am hopeful that city leaders look beyond the loudest voices and look at the facts and plan for the future by ensuring this project comes to fruition. I feel it will create a better living experience for all of us for many years to come.

–Larry Dougherty

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