By Jesse Wood
Sept. 14, 2013. On Tuesday, the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority board voted 4-1 to send a letter to the Division of Parks and Recreation, supporting the re-issue of a grant for a Pine Run and Green Valley Park paddle accesses to the Green Valley Community Park Inc. This comes after a motion for the TDA to accept the grant failed.
On Aug. 13, a motion to accept the $75,000 grant that requires matching funds of $18,750 failed in a 2-2 vote per TDA policy. Chair Matt Vicent and Vice Chair Tony Gray voted to accept the grant, while board members Kim Rogers and Connie Baird voted against accepting the grant. Absent were members Sonya Garland and Jim Neustadt.
According to the August meeting minutes, TDA Director Wright Tilley noted that “much of the concern from the board so far has been the long-term maintenance of the Pine Run part of the project [as] the Green Valley Park board has agreed to maintain the improvements made to Green Valley Park.”
After the motion failed, Williams Hutchins of the Green Valley Community Park board said that his organization would be willing to take on maintenance at Pine Run as well if this would reverse the decision – “because this is an important grant for Green Valley.”
According to the minutes, “Kim Rogers stated that the reason that she voted against it is because she collects the occupancy tax funds and that it is to promote tourism. She stated that she has rented to visitors for over 30 years and that she doesn’t see the return from these projects. She said the numbers don’t work for her.”
Gray noted in the meeting that the prior TDA board focused on making the High Country a recreational mecca on the East Coast, and now the current board is primarily made up of people who are in the lodging industry “concerned that they are not getting enough advertising for their buck,” according to the minutes.
A week after the August meeting, Tim Hagaman, president of Green Valley Community Park, Inc., penned a letter to the Tilley and the TDA board, requesting the TDA to relinquish involvement with the paddle accesses and endorse the Green Valley Community Park board in taking over the projects.
At the Sept. 10 meeting, the board agreed to send a letter to the Division of Parks and Recreation, noting that the board declined to accept the grant but does endorse Green Valley Community Park accepting the grant and taking over the project.
The vote to send the letter passed 4-1 with Tilley saying the lone nay vote was because the board member was in favor of the TDA accepting the grant and completing the project from the start.
See the entire letter below. Click here to read minutes from meeting: Minutes TDA August 2013