Community Weighs in on Proposed Visitors Center for Greene County
GREENE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Plans for a new Greene County visitors center are now headed to the board of supervisors for approval.
On Tuesday, June 4, members of the Economic Development Authority unanimously voted to green light the $1 million acquisition of a historic home for the project.
The county says that the $1 million needed for the center would come from tourism taxes and not property or real estate taxes on Greene County citizens.
At a public hearing on Tuesday night, 15 people spoke and a majority of them were in favor of the project.
“I think it’s just an excellent value,” Robbie Morris, who supports the project, said.
But others, however, voiced their opposition.
“This is ridiculous, the numbers do not add up,” Steve Kruskamp, who's against the project, said. “This is a net negative for us."
Greene County community members are at odds over plans to purchase a historic home near the intersection of routes 29 and 33 to be used as a new visitors center.
The county says the building will cost $1 million to purchase, and it’ll be entirely funded by tourism tax dollars that are earmarked specifically for these kinds of projects.
“This is a zero impact on the residents, taxpayers' obligation,” Alan Yost, Greene County’s tourism director, said.
Currently, the county leases its visitors center next to Blue Ridge Café but people complain it’s difficult to find.
Supporters of the new location say it’s a great entryway into the county, plus it makes sense financially in the long run.
“You only get one chance to make a first impression and I think this new visitor's center and EDA office will be a great first impression for anyone coming into the county,” Gary Lowe, who supports the project, said.
People in opposition to the project say the location could better serve the county as a commercial business and thereby generate tax revenue for the general fund, which could then help close budgetary shortfalls and prevent having to raise real estate taxes like in fiscal year 2020.
“A tourism office - while it would be great in that location - it's not the highest and best use for that property,” James Murphy, who opposes the project, said.
This recommendation for approval now moves to the Greene County Board of Supervisors for a final vote.
If the county does move forward with plans to purchase this building, county leaders anticipate it needing about $48,000 worth of cosmetic upgrades.