Family Feud Slows Progress

The internecine troubles that have surfaced in a lawsuit filed by Pillsbury Realty, LLC against DeMoulas Super Markets are a struggle that puts the future of the 600-plus-acre Woodmont Commons development in jeopardy.

Without the access road agreed to by DeMoulas in 2011, principals of the Woodmont development say they cannot proceed – thus, the lawsuit, in which Pillsbury seeks reimbursement for all the money it has spent so far.

Rather than the same old big box store or strip mall proposal, Pillsbury Realty envisions a mixed use “smart development,” with walkability at the core, a variety of housing styles and sizes, and big and small businesses – with the central area not relying on massive parking lots for access. Londonderry took a big gamble on something new, and a family feud should be the last thing to stand in its way.

Meanwhile, over in Derry, which faces a major impact – not known yet whether for good or ill – from the development of Woodmont Commons, town officials are still focusing on the same old same old.

There’s that old quotation that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That could be the battle cry for development of downtown Derry.

Does Derry need to work on economic development? Absolutely. Do the same old studies and proposals from decades past provide the solution? We doubt it. But it’s looking more and more as if that process is about to happen again, even as the delay in Woodmont offers time for something new in Derry.

Derry desperately needs development to help with its unbearably high tax rate. But creative thinking – which is what Woodmont offers – is a far better gamble than putting in a parking lot or two downtown.

Derry and Londonderry were once one municipality. Derry’s downtown is waning, and economic development is hit and miss. Londonderry stands to offer something new with Woodmont, and Derry should consider what it can offer in tandem.

But before that happens, the lawsuit requires resolution.

And if DeMoulas is indeed reneging on its access road agreement, which was part of the move of Market Basket from its old store to its new one, town officials should take a hard look at whether the continued operation of the store becomes a question mark.

Family squabbles tend to be more bitter and painful than ones between otherwise strangers, and that doesn’t bode well for this situation. And that doesn’t bode well for the residents of Londonderry – and Derry – either, for whom Woodmont offers the potential for a new way to look at economic growth.

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