As Baltimore area natives who retired to Chincoteague in 2006, we have a first-hand view not just of the launches but of the development of the various programs, infrastructure, policies and commercial by-products related to NASA's Wallops Research Facility in Virginia ("The Eastern Shore's space-age opportunity," Sept. 23).
Many people who visit the Virginia Eastern Shore say it is like "going back in time." That is an accurate observation. We hope the upcoming report on the potential for space-related economic development here is grounded in reality. Cultivation of academic partnerships and investment in an air and space museum, for example, will not soon overcome the obstacles to real social progress, which sadly seem to define the culture here.
Your editorial notes hopefully that "space-junkie" travel to the shore will boost tourism, and it will. However, Chincoteague tourism will not benefit from even one more hotel built on this small island. Folks come here for the quiet and to escape from the big cities to the north, including Ocean City. Perhaps the space junkies can bed down up in Salisbury or Princess Anne instead.
The big jobs related to the Wallops program, those manned by "highly paid, highly skilled and highly educated individuals," are still in places like Greenbelt, California and Florida. So the editorial's hopefulness, much appreciated by us city transplants here on the shore, seems to apply mainly to those Maryland locales that already support a progressive culture and economy. When we crave a richer culture and a world of progressive thinking we head west, back home to Columbia.
Victoria Weiskopf, Chincoteague, Va.