Letter: A win-win-win for TDA’s millions

FUNDS FOR GREENWAYS? This 2017 file photo shows the newest section of the French Broad River Greenway — open and ready for action. Photo by Cindy Kunst

A thought about the millions the Tourism Development Authority has to spend on “brick-and-mortar capital expenses with the potential to generate overnight stays in Buncombe County” [“Buncombe Shares Early Goals for Tourism Dollars,” June 26, Xpress].

The Xpress article mentioned that the greenway in Black Mountain was a potential landing spot for the TDA millions. We know that road maintenance and extra policing is not an option for that money.

So, we have the TDA funds and the issues that Asheville residents want — and that money must draw tourists to the town. Think: Greenways that actually connect to each other equals walkability/bike/Segway tourist industry which isn’t here — remember the Pit of Despair — what if the TDA funded a really nice park like Pritchard Park, which has live music, the hoop jam and (we add) an edible garden?!

Over the summer, tourists come into town for Downtown LEAF and all the Brewgrass festivals we can come up with. Those events are held at our amazing city facilities such as Roger McGuire Green, Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Memorial Stadium. The TDA should be using their $20 million of hotel tax funding on those tourist-drawing events.

Asheville tax dollars have to pay for the maintenance of these facilities/spaces for these festivals. Asheville taxpayers had to pay for the bathrooms to be opened/cleaned/maintained, the grass mowed and regular maintenance of these locations. The TDA can pay for this, and then Asheville tax dollars can be used for paving State Street.

Those are “brick-and-mortar” places that draw overnight guests but also contribute to a rich Asheville society. Asheville residents’ tax dollars can be used on busing/police/firefighters/paving Hanover Street. (Huge thank-you! My 3-year-old would get upset about how bumpy that road was when biking her to day care every morning. It looks really good — you all did a great job!)

Asheville missed the goal of fully funding the transit budget by $500,000. The TDA is looking for ways to spend money. I bet the TDA could fund our greenway initiatives, maintenance and policing at those huge tourist-driving events in Asheville, and the City Council could then allocate that revenue to fully funding the Transit Plan or road repairs, etc.

The TDA is doing a great job of advertising Asheville at their current level, and the surplus of dollars could help us all have a win-win-win. People live in Asheville for greenways, bike lanes and parks. I really think the TDA can focus on the “brick-and-mortar” part of that to alleviate Asheville tax spending. What if the TDA funded the Civic Center? Who hasn’t had a friend come in for a concert/graduation/talk/conference?

What if the TDA funded the local HoeDown Ultimate Frisbee tournament, which has 40 teams of 30 people (math, 1,200 people) come to Asheville from as far and wide as Texas and Illinois, who stay for three days. That might be small fish, but that $20 million would go a long way with the local taxpayers.

AVL? Who do you love?

— Mark Strazzer
Asheville

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