I grew up in Fairfield. It was idyllic – right by the beach, where our next door neighbour’s house recently sold for just under a million dollars and was demolished to make way for a McMansion of 2, 8 million – one of the houses generally referred to as “monstrosities” by longtime residents.
Dad paid $28,000 for a tiny two-story house in 1965. I walked to school, rode my bike, climbed trees, and every fourth of July we sat in our garden and watched the fireworks. Neighborhood children strolled in a cheerful pack back and forth through connected backyards. We were working class or petty bourgeoisie. We all near the beach. Small capes, ranches, multi-level homes with unassuming families.
When I visit Fairfield now, it’s unrecognizable. It’s heartbreaking. The air of exclusivity is stifling. I angrily read the opinion pieces denouncing the development of the 1030g case. people like my family made Fairfield, the place where others wanted to live. Middle-income teachers, firefighters, small-town grocers, retailers – these are the people who built the Mayberry-that-was. And the NIMBYs who live there and want to exclude *us* think they can do better? The idea that money somehow makes a better class of humans mystifies me. More than that, I recognize it as a spiritual lie.
And the “affordability” of these rental units that are on offer is by no means affordable to a teacher or a customer service representative, but that is a topic for another day.
I am a real estate agent. The number of good, well-educated, hard-working people desperately looking for an affordable apartment or house is depressing. I have a series of people online who are willing and ready to buy or rent, but who are stuck in substandard housing because they can’t afford decent housing. A decent place to live. A place with decent schools and a safe neighborhood. That shouldn’t be too much to ask of anyone.
I grew up in Fairfield. I went to a very good university and I have a degree in political science. I’m an artist, a writer and I’m good at languages. I am a walking dictionary. Although my fortunes have recently improved, for most of my life (I’m 61), I couldn’t hope to afford to live in Fairfield. I am the person that the NIMBYs would like to exclude from their little paradise: a paradise that I helped create.
Fairfield must be a good citizen. Exclusivity is a horrible collective concept that belies the values professed by the city. If “Hate” really “Has No Home Here”, if “Black Lives Matter” (but not in my backyard), then join in the talk. Otherwise, just put a different sign on the town green: “Wealthy Whites Only”.
Alycia Keating is an estate agent in Derby.