When the Sweet Briar/Disney America story went “viral” here on the School of Athens, the late, great Terrance Bouldon told me that he could cross going viral off his “bucket list.” I think it was one of the highlights of his career as a blogger, though I don’t believe School of Athens will continue without Terrance. Thus, I found it reminiscent when a person e-mailed me this little story asking if it was related:
You may remember, the odd progress (and selective lack there of) of the Route 29 development was cited as circumstantial evidence of Disney being interested in Sweet Briar. So now that the property held along Route 29 is being sold off, one wonders – why?
Really, the Disney connection may have been a web of coincidences – and there is no way we will ever know. But the timeline is telling on the Sweet Briar closing story, and our source still maintains that Disney was interested.
Initially the board was adamantly and inexplicably opposed to any compromise to keep the school open for even one more year – despite the significant reserves and the vast alumnae support – to the tune of millions of dollars. More telling, the board refused to sign papers that would not allow them to profit from the sale of the school.
Then look to Attorney General Mark Herring – he was initially adamantly and inexplicably opposed to the forces trying to keep the school open. So much so that many Vixens still hold him to blame. Wading into this morass held little political gain, and Herring turned out to be on the wrong side of the law as well.
All forces seemed intractable against the #SaveSweetBriar movement.
Then the School of Athens broke our little story, and we received hundreds of thousands of hits from around the world. We were picked up in local newspapers and growing pressure prompted a number of parties to issue formal denials of interest in Sweet Briar. And an interesting thing happened once Disney said it was not interested in the property “at this time.”
One a vast multi-national corporation like Disney deigned to bow to the pressure generated by a little Pro-Republican Bog and said they weren’t interested “at this time”– everything changed.
Mark Herring radically and inexplicable reversed his position. The board caved entirely in a settlement. All opposition crumbled without explanation, giving #SaveSweetBriar total victory.
And now, VDOT is selling off the properties it was holding for development on the Route 29 corridor.
Maybe our source was wrong, and maybe the Disney connection was merely a series of strange coincidences. Or maybe the Big Mouse didn’t want another embarrassment caused by local resistance in the attempt to bring Disney America to Virginia. And maybe when it became clear that the resistance was strong, Disney pulled out… followed by Herring, the Board, and now VDOT. We will likely never know, but I know the Sweet Briar Vixens will remember how Herring inexplicably didn’t have their backs when elections day comes around.
And I know Terrance got to cross something off his “Bucket List.”