Oh, hello, Uncle! How are you?
No, sir, I assure you, I’m not just asking how you are because you put me in your will and I’m hoping you’re terminal. Not at all. Seriously: How are you?
Yes, Uncle, we’re still in Ipswich.
Well, yes, we love it here. It’s a beautiful town.
Really? You’re looking to invest here?
Well, I don’t know why I sound surprised, except that I am surprised. I never thought of you investing in a small town. I always thought of you as a big-city kind of guy.
Small towns are the wave of the future? I didn’t know that. I honestly don’t follow the latest business trends. I’m just a volunteer columnist for the local paper.
Yes, sir, I’m still doing that.
No, sir, you’re right: There isn’t much money in it.
Certainly, Uncle, I’ll tell you whatever you need to know about Ipswich. To the extent that I know the answers, of course. I haven’t been here very long, so there’s a lot I don’t know about yet.
Downtown business zoning? Well, I can tell you what I’ve read. Actually, this issue has been in the news over the past few weeks.
No, sir, there’s not much regulation of the storefronts downtown.
No, sir, nothing to especially encourage retail stores and restaurants to take space downtown.
Yes, Uncle, I guess you’re right: More retail and restaurants would bring more foot traffic to the downtown area.
Yes, sir, I understand that more foot traffic means more life and more revenue for the town.
Well, sir, I don’t know why there’s no such zoning regulation. Our Planning Board just turned one down a couple weeks ago.
Uncle, excuse me, but when you yell that loud, I can’t tell what you’re saying.
No, sir, there’s no requirement that storefront display windows be uncovered.
Uncle, I agree with you: keeping 70% of the window space uncovered, so people can see in, would make the downtown a lot more attractive.
Sir, I don’t know why they don’t require it. There was a proposal for a rule like this, but——
Yes, sir, the Planning Board shot it down.
Well, Uncle, I wouldn’t necessarily use that term to describe them.
Yes, sir, our daughter is in public school.
Well, yes, they were among the highest-ranked schools in the state, at one time.
I mean back when we were deciding which town to move to.
No, sir, actually, the number of teachers has just gone down.
Yes, sir, the number of students in each classroom has gone up.
Well, because of the override.
No, sir, we voted it down.
Uncle? Uncle? Excuse me, sir, but you don’t seem to be screaming in actual English anymore. Would you like to talk about this later? Maybe after you’ve had a martini?
Yes, Uncle, I’ve heard that you need strong schools or your town declines. “The town doesn’t prop up the schools; the schools prop up the town.”
Well, I can’t speak for the majority of voters, sir. I heard it was going to cost about $500 a year in increased taxes. People thought it was too much.
Yes, Uncle, I understand that our property values will decline by way more than that if our schools lose their rankings.
I’m sorry, Uncle. I don’t run the town. I only have one vote.
Signs? You mean like to help people find things? Well, we’re working on that.
Yes, sir, I understand the downtown area can’t thrive if people can’t find things like parking.
Well, there’s a committee.
Yes, they’ve been working on it.
Well, no, I think it’s been a bit longer than that.
Well, no, actually, I think it’s been a bit longer than that, too.
You’re getting warmer.
Uncle, may I just say, I think it would be great for you to invest in Ipswich. Start a business downtown. It would be good for the town, and——
No, Uncle, please don’t do that. Anything but that.
Please, Uncle! Not Rowley!
Ipswich can change, sir! I promise!
Uncle? Hello? Hello?