Today's Waynesboro News Virginian has a front page article about the future of Waynesboro's downtown which has been struggling for a long time. Their bustling west end with its many shopping outlets including Target, Wal-Mart, restaurants, and a new conference hotel, has blossomed while downtown has floundered.
The article has thoughts from City Manager Jim Shaw. I have some thoughts of my own.
Waynesboro is on the South River, a branch of the Shenandoah. Anytime anything is located on a body of water it is a gem. Waynesboro should capitalize on the river. Green areas, parks, bike trails, fishing ... if it is built, they will come. Instead of pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into an art center that few will patron, pour it into the riverfront that all could use.
Afton is an eyesore in the middle of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. At the juncture of the Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, I-64, and Rt. 250, it is ugly with a closed restaurant, a burned-out motel, a rag-tag building with the tourist center, and the Afton Inn which, in its heyday, was a Holiday Inn, and is now rundown and, though it has a dining room with a gorgeous view of the Rockfish Valley, it is not in use. What a waste.
This area is lacking dining facilities that take advantage of the beauty of the area where we live. Try finding a restaurant with a table by the window to look at the mountains. Go ahead ... try. South River Restaurant in Waynesboro somewhat has a view from the patio. Staunton's restaurants are no better.
I envision a restaurant with a huge rocking porch for those who are waiting for service, similar to Shatley Springs on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina ... or many of the restaurants in Blowing Rock, NC. They know how to use the view to entice patrons to their establishments. When visiting (or even living) in a mountaineous area it is nice to dine in a setting with a mountain view.
Sitting at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Waynesboro is a diamond in the rough. It could capitalize on its proximity to the Appalachian Trail, the South River, Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Afton Mountain. It could be very attractive along the line of small towns high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado or Wyoming.
If someone would just have a vision ... it could happen.