Tuesday, December 8, Creston Owen, chairman of the newly formed Virginia Civil War Events Inc. presented his organization’s plan to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas. His organization, made up of volunteers, has a 9 day plan to draw tourism to the area. His primary goal is to bring people to Manassas and Prince William County and to keep them coming back. The events sound grand. Also speaking to the board were Ed Clark, superintendent of Manassas National Battlefield Park and Brendon Hanafin, the county’s director of historic preservation who both added background information.
Funding will be the county’s primary obstacle. Many popular programs have already shut down or throttled back to bare-bones operations because of fiscal hard times. According to the Washington Examiner:
Still, funding presents an issue, even this early in the process. The cost per year for the county’s support and the events is estimated at $95,000.
All of the county’s financial support would have to come from the transient occupancy tax, said Budget Director David Tyerar. The TOT is a levy on tourist facilities such as hotels, motels and boarding houses that offer rented guest rooms for fewer than 30 consecutive days. Three of every five cents go toward tourism-related items in the county.
Creston Owen made a wonderful presentation to the board. His enthusiasm, knowledge, historical background made me want to write him a check on the spot. I am convinced he could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. The county chair warned that money was very scarce.
What if Manassas ponies up and the county does not? What if the county gives hard earned county money to this group? How loud will the hue and cry be from groups that support the Senior Day Care Center or transportation for the seniors to go to the senior citizens centers (different from senior day care)? It seems like the county is between a rock and a hard place.