Jumping to assumptive conclusions…

Posted: May 26, 2011 in Geilo, ideas

Work has commenced on an overdue project

Yesterday, the local paper reported that a temporary stop work order had been issued on the construction project that was under-way in the centre of town.

They are building an underground car-park to free up the town centre as a pedestrian area and to give it a much needed lift in the aesthetics area.  Now Geilo, the town where I live is a small, semi-rural town halfway between Bergen and Oslo.  It has been a ski destination for well over 50 years and at one time was a premier destination within Norway.  It has featured in films, has the railway run straight through town and is on a main road.  It is visited by tour buses in the summer and skiers in the winter   with a very high num,ber of cabins and some hotels including the somewhat famous, Dr Holms Hotel which is over 100 years old.

The town centre has been a nightmare for ages, it has not really been able to keep up with the times, doesn’t really have any theme or charm and was designed in a time before the automobile.  So pretty chaotic and generally dull then.

Finally after what seems to be an epic number of years (locals talk of decades) a town centre plan was agreed on and work begun.  The owners of the 2 dominant buildings in town decided to invest in creating underground parking for their buildings and also to reorganise what shops were where to facilitate a better structure.

These plans were to my understanding, discussed many times with the shop owners who lease premises inside these buildings and the plans have been open for viewing and discussion via the local council.  Meetings were held where shop owners and those who would be directly affected during the building process were informed of plans and given opportunities to participate and address concerns that may have.

Now considering that this is a massive operation, it is to be expected that there would be some negative impact on the shops revenues and that this would be temporary, with the idea that the project start during May when Geilo is ‘in between’ seasons and the impact could be minimised.  Also, being an alpine town, the sooner it started, the better the chance it would be completed before the snow returns.

So generally, most people in the town are happy to see some progress and considering the existing unfinished projects in the town centre are pretty ‘hair trigger’ in regards to any chance that this project will also go tits up.

So the paper reports the stop work notice and facebook lights up like a Christmas Tree.

People are going mental, slinging shit and venting their rage and frustration.  I was one of them.

The problem was that as it was reported and then subsequently spread via the local grapevine and electronic media, nobody had all the relevant information.  We all were jumping to conclusions and reacting to a perceived threat.

Now today, more information has come to light thanks to the construction company who is undertaking the project.  Drawings were made public and the problem was addressed calmly and in a way that eased fears and calmed nerves.

It seems that the work so far has progressed quicker than foreseen and that the next stage requires specialists.  They are scheduled to arrive soon, but we have breathing space.  So the stop work notice is not a problem or threat as there is time to address the concerns raised, find solutions and continue the main body of work without incumbency.

This is a classic situation where going off half cocked can result in the persecution of innocent parties and create hostility and fear that I feel foolish for  being party too.

But in discussions with locals yesterday certain points repeatedly raised their heads;

  • That the district newspaper seems all to eager to publish anything that shines a negative light on Geilo.
  •  That the project is needed and welcomed, the current inconvenience is understandable and not a real problem as it is recognised as temporary.
  • That the fear of another ‘hole’ in town is terrifying to people
  • That more than ever, Geilo needs to present itself as attractive to investors.  Having a track record of complications in regard to large projects will only serve to scare investors away as they will not be able to construct budgetary forecasts to work within.

So, lesson learned and please Hallingdølen, try and present all the relevant facts pertinent to a case before publishing.  We need journalistic integrity and an unbiased approach to the distribution of information so that we may be better equipped to form opinions and make better educated decisions and reactions.

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