By Samantha Paine
Kutztown has long been a town of little commercialist influence. The central focus has revolved more around community and history than flashiness and pretentiousness. In some ways, this quaint nature may be a deficit; however it remains a place where one can observe a rich historical foundation.
Brick buildings and worn-out structures boast the idea of a small town formed for a tight-knit agricultural community. Open grass patches still reign over glaring new development. But how long will these distinguishing characteristics last?
More and more, these kinds of areas have been surrounded and smothered by commercial influence—nature and formative buildings taking a backseat to the newest Costco or chain mall. Some see this as progression, a move toward a more dynamic community.
However, considering the ever-lessening amount of areas left untouched by national and international companies, seeing Kutztown in it’s early stages of this transition is simply a realization of the inevitability of commercial influence.
With no disrespect to the owner of the soon-to-be-former Campus Inn, money usually takes precedence over preservation of culture. America has been and still is quickly becoming a culture of marketing and advertisement, replacing Old MacDonald’s farm with McDonald’s golden arches.
In a recent news release, Scott Dorn, chairman and president of Ursus Aureus and Golden Bear Ventures, the Kutztown University Foundation’s two subsidiaries involved in funding the $13 million project stated, “While the hotel will be customized to fall in line with the superior Hilton/Hampton Inn & Suites model, we will add a local flare to the property.” This provides little assurance, considering the gap from aged agricultural community to brand-new chain hotel seems to be a large one to bridge.
It is undeniable that a larger hotel just down the main roadway from KU will allow for more traffic to the community, closer overnight accommodations for distant visitors to take advantage of and higher tax revenue for Kutztown. However, it will also require a large time span of interruptive construction work, which may create problems with traffic flow, and will sacrifice the history of the Campus Inn.
Forty-two years ago, a young Bruce Springsteen stayed at the Campus Inn motel the weekend before a concert on campus. Springsteen’s manager met him at the motel the Friday before, with the first and only acetate proof of “Born To Run” to listen to.
Upon listening through it on a small turntable with his band and manager, Springsteen rejected the recordings, and with disgust and dramatic flare, threw the record, Frisbee-style into the deep end of the Campus Inn pool. The album was almost scrapped and re-recorded, however the band members had Springsteen calm down and come around, and the album was released a month after.
While the Campus Inn may not be well known for this among students, it still stands as a representative of Kutztown.
Whether or not the benefits of the incoming hotel will outweigh the negatives is yet to be known, and while the view presented is inherently pessimistic, there is no doubt it will bring more prosper to the community. The only question left—will this be the beginning of a commercially burgeoning Kutztown?