By Jesse Wood
Six candidates running for three seats on the Watauga County Board of Commissioners spoke all things recreation at a candidate’s forum sponsored by High Country Recreation. The forum took place in the Watauga Medical Center auditorium.
Moderated by Scott St. Claire of High Country Recreation, the candidates dove into recreational topics such as supporting a referendum for a recreation center in Watauga County, the commissioners’ role in improving recreation infrastructure, the impact of greenways on the local quality of life and more. See some figures here.
See responses from all the candidates, including introductions, in the videos below and list of questions at the very bottom of page:
Video by Ken Ketchie
See questions below:
Candidate’s Forum Questions – October 4th, 2016
[What role does recreation play in economic development?]
[As a Board of Commissioner member, what is the role of the county to improve recreation infrastructure in our community? What would you do to improve infrastructure?]
[A community recreation center has been an expressed need of the community for decades both in county/town planning and in community surveys. Since a YMCA is not coming to Watauga County, what plans would you have to meet this need?]
[Trails have been shown to be the number one recreation amenity in statewide and local surveys. Our community already has a number of great trails. What role do you think the county can play to support the development and building of local trails?]
[Watauga County has talked about a recreation center for decades. We are basically the only county our size in the state that does not have some sort of indoor recreation center for their citizens. High Country Recreation engaged with the YMCA several years ago and this is not a possibility (see our website for details). So, a recreation center needs to be done by our community.
Do you support the county building a publicly funded recreation center? We are looking for a “yes” or “no”.]
[According to the NC Treasurer’s website, Watauga County has the second lowest property tax rate in the state. Our current county debt is low reflected in the fact that we are borrowing 6.7% of what we are allowed. A recent study in the last couple of months by ASU showed a potential $36 million in economic benefit from a proposed recreation center.
Given all of this, how hard are you willing to work to find public funding for this project?]
*Will you support a referendum?
[The governor recently visited the High Country announcing a grant to fund the Middle Fork Greenway. Gov McCrory said, “This is a great quality of life issue, environmental issue and also a very major step for pedestrian friendly transportation. This will be a travel and tourism destination even more because of the potential of new walking trails, biking trails and connectivity right with the Blue Ridge Parkway.”
How important of a priority is the Middle Fork Greenway for our region? How should the county provide resources for this project?]
[Questions from the audience]