Zài Jiàn to China Pond

By S.D. Plissken | September 26, 2018

If local social media is accurate, the owners of the China Pond restaurant intend to close it, when their lease expires on October 7. The owners intend to spend more time with their family instead.

If I have understood my fortune cookies correctly, which is doubtful, zài jiàn is Mandarin Chinese for goodbye. (Apologies in advance for any Mandarin error). So, zài jiàn to China Pond. I hope you fare well in whatever comes next for you.

As I understand it – from very far outside – the owners had hoped to set up an American-style restaurant, as well as a couple of apartments, in the old Ray’s Marina complex. This proved to be impossible due to permitting issues. The current permitting issues, at least the insurmountable ones, are said to be with the State, and have to do with parking. This has gone on for several years now.

From afar, I have often wondered if they might rent the use of ten or a dozen spaces from the Dollar General complex across the street. I have never seen the Dollar General parking lot full, especially out at the margins, because most of its customers park naturally near the store entrance. Some spaces along the street would be relatively far from the Dollar General’s entrance and relatively close, if not actually closer, to the Ray’s Marina complex.

Too bad. It might have been sort of a win-win: extra money for Dollar General and parking access for the intended restaurant across the street. There is probably some sort of regulation that forbids such a solution. There usually is.

I shudder to think of the regulatory tortures of the damned that have been imposed upon these hapless restaurant entrepreneurs. This has been going on for a couple of years now. Again, from afar, they seem to have purchased the Ray’s Marina property. (I could be wrong). That is a pretty big investment. Now add a couple of years of Milton’s crushing tax burden to a non-performing property. And, as the cherry on top, a couple of years of legal expenses wrestling with boards and regulatory officials. Their working capital must be pretty much exhausted. Not a very “encouraging” prospect is it?

So, China Pond joins Stop, Drop & Rolls in leaving the so-called business district. Do a count: there are more businesses out of the business district than there are in the business district. We have really more of a business district museum than a business district. An exhibit of the business district that was, when there was a train depot and before the Spaulding bypassed the town. Is it time to just stop calling this the “business district”?

Social media has reported also that the antique store proposed for Milton Mills got bogged down in regulations too. And these were not State regulations. The owner said that Milton has some sort of extra layer of regulations above and beyond every other place in New Hampshire. Sort of like a “double secret probation.” He politely said that he is trying to work with the town on this. Of course, the town could just eliminate that extra hurdle – just to stay even with everywhere else. If they want really to move forward towards being “encouraging,” they could go on to whack a couple of more layers of nonsense too.

The ongoing Mi-Te-Jo expansion tragicomedy comes to mind. It would be difficult to imagine something with a lower environmental impact than expanding a seasonal campground. I mean, compared with hiring out the town as a landfill. But NIMBY. I suppose now Mi-Te-Jo will depart too and a housing development or something will spring up instead. Try that in your back yard. Much better than expanding a seasonal business.

I wonder if a Mi-Te-Jo failure to thrive will have any effect on that other store. The one near the bridge-that-was.

How about if we post Economic Revitalization Zone (ERZ) signs? I mean, as opposed to reducing taxes and regulations. That should do the trick. Yeah, that is the sort of thing you see in places that have check-cashing stores and title-loan shops instead of banks. (Rochester has a check-cashing store, a title loan shop, and ERZ signs). Is that where we are headed? I do not find that very encouraging.

How about if we just try liberty? (We pledge to it before every meeting). That seems to have worked in the past. You know, let us try what worked in the time before Economic Development, Planning, Zoning, and whatever boards and committees even existed. It has not been that long – within living memory.

If it is really vital that we have businesses for some reason – a reason that is never satisfactorily explained – let us return to the regulatory conditions that prevailed when businesses thrived.

Try to reproduce the conditions that existed when the business district created itself.


Our Milton Home. (2018, September 26). China Pond Is Closing Forever. Retrieved from www.facebook.com/groups/OurMiltonHome/

Rochester Voice. (2018, June 22). China Pond’s Plan for Move Across Street Inches Forward. Retrieved from www.therochestervoice.com/china-ponds-plan-for-move-across-street-inches- forward–cms-10350

Author: S.D. Plissken

I thought he'd be taller.

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