Editorial: Grinding slowly
Once again, the future of the former Strathmore Paper Mill is up in the air.
At least this time, there’s no intrigue or mystery about what happened, which is a good thing.
In a word, it came down to money.
“(Flight Patterns LCC, the group of artists that were interested in the complex) cited the access issues and the cost of preparing the property,” explained Montague Planner Walter Ramsey, “no big surprises there. They just started to get into the due-diligence and decided they weren’t going to be able to address some of those issues that we knew all along were going to be sticking points,”
Sticking points, indeed, and costly ones at that.
But the partnership deserves some credit for determining early on that it wasn’t going to be able to pull together the financing necessary to successfully turn the vision — which included studio space for artists, living space, shops and more — that they had for the complex into reality.
Although that decision came before additional studies were done on the property — thus precluding Montague officials from updating their own information — we think it was better to make this early and clean break for all involved.
Unfortunately, that again raises the question of what next?
Probably, the property will go back on the market, and we don’t doubt there will be suitors who will come forward with some terrific ideas for revitalizing the old buildings.
Yet no matter how fantastic those proposals may be, or how earnestly the pitch is made, Montague officials must remain vigilant in seeing that would-be redevelopers of the Strathmore have the financial wherewithal to take on such a project — both for the short and long terms.
In this region, we’ve all too many painful memories of the consequences of turning such buildings over to those ill-equipped financially to carry through to the finish.
If the Strathmore is to find a new life — and that’s something that would benefit both Montague and others — then it will continue to need a town and entrepreneurial partnership that clearly sees the risks and doesn’t leave the matter of money to chance.