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.

State of Virginia Sesquicentennial Website

146 Thoughts to “Sesquicentennial Plans Presented to BOCS”

  1. Thank you PWC taxpayer, and I hope PWC leads the way and says yes. It’s not duplication of effort, a variety of efforts are needed. I don’t mind donating and also paying taxes to make this happen. I will open my home to out of town visitors, same as I did during the inauguration when the hotels filled up. This is a commemoration, and we have a responsibility to be hosts to people who make the pilgrimage.

  2. Duke of Cumberland

    Lots of good points here. For one, the CVB for PWC/Manassas has a budget to market this County to tourists. They would be the ones to market the Local Committees programs and efforts. It seems Mr. Owen has backed off his “reenactment” idea. If his group doesnt have this big reenactment, then why give them the money? They want money to market CW events in 2011…well, why cant the CVB hire someone to do that? Then this money would not have to go to a private group without any Government oversight. This BOS has repeatedly endorsed the County’s Local CW 150th group…now they act like it never existed?? What great leadership…they have voted twice in the past to endorse this group and now act like it has dont nothing…what a joke and how embarassing for the BOS!!!! If Mr. Owen wants an MOU with the CVB to run a CW 150th website for the County, then lets do it…but money for CW Ball and reenactment, no way. The other events (bus tours, Peace Jubilee, tours, lectures, living history) have ALREADY been discussed by the local committee and are being planned…with or without VCE. Finally, why is it called “Virginia Civil War Events” when its only Manassas and PWC focused? Mr. Owen is a great salesman for sure….

  3. The town of Gettysburg grew up around the battlefield. Manassas did not.

    148 years is a long time to strive for a make over and that is what it will take. Towns and communities take on their own personalities. Manassas is not wearing the complexion and texture of the battlefield. If it ever did, it was before I arrived in the county. The west end or the county part of Manassas has schools named Stonewall for many years and PWC recently added Bull Run and Battlefield Schools. Several businesses have Battlefield in their names but the reference certainly isn’t ubiquitous.

    There are too many committees, too many names, and not enough general understanding of what is being asked.

    Frankly, before this afternoon, I thought it was just me needing more information. Now I feel like I am being ‘had.’

  4. Manassasman

    I think the PWC Taxpayer’s comments are disingenious above. VCE is asking for this money not just ONCE but on a repeated basis through 2012 (possibly if they want a second manassas event). So..its NOT a one time payment. Also, downplaying what the County’s historic sites are asking for is shameful. Looking at the agenda for tomorrow you can see the Staff Report. MOST of this money goes to road signs so all these tourists VCE swears they will get can find the CW sites they say they are supporting. Also, a good portion of this money goes to the Journey Through Hallowed Ground for an education progam and an Education program partnership (with the local committee that VCE claims is doing nothing!) at Manassas Battlefield for 6th graders next year….a VERY honest and worthwhile use of funds…educating the youth on this tragic time of our history. Also, saying they are going to do “torch light tours” only is ridiculous….the local group has more than that planned and will bring in tourists – even if VCE doesnt exist! As the earlier post says, the CVB will market these events if VCE wasnt involved. Real educational, respectable and historically correct programs for the public and tourists is whats best. Dont use the money on a CW ball with bad Civil War uniforms and a reenactment (which will bring in little money, how much did the last CW reenacmtment in PWC make? Does anyone remember the one held at Long Park many years ago??). The estimates of reeactnors and audience it will draw is VASTLY over stated…the numbers they speak of does not exist at any CW reeactments anymore….its not the 1960’s anymore. Please dont put down the local historic sites and their efforts to survive to make your point. At least that money will be going through a vetted budget process with BOS oversight….NOT to a private group.

  5. 🙄 No one is saying don’t have a commemorative celebration. Many of us are questioning where the money is going to come from.

    The people of Prince William County are going to demand answers from their supervisors. I don’t claim to know the right answer on this one but I sure hope I get to the point where I can ask the right questions rather than just rubber stamp something through because it makes me feel good at the moment.

  6. Lafayette

    I too am all in favor of the student project that was presented to the board in Oct. or Nov.
    That project is real education and involves our students and seemed quite successful with their work in Harper’s Ferry with the students.

    Link to prior thread on this issue with regard to the City of Manassas.

    Here’s a post with the presentation from a prior thread after the request of $100K from the City of Manassas.
    Lafayette November 13th, 2009 at 09:09 | #6 Reply | Quote Here’s a link to the presentation to the PWBOS called “Of the Students, By the Students, For the Students”. They show what the students did for Harper’s Ferry and their celebration of the 150th Anniversary.
    I really hope they get the grant money and partner with the county for this project. If this project moves forward they would also do the same for the Second Battle of Manassas. They are some requirements for the grant money based free/reduced lunches and Stonewall Middle would be the school to work on this project. The National Park Service will certainly be promoting the Anniversary, and they had a very postive responses to the Hollowed Ground project.

  7. I don’t care for the stipulations put on that Harpers Ferry ed project. It should not be restricted to schools with a large free lunch population. I feel that is a reverse discrimination of sorts.

  8. Lafayette

    Moon, you and I both agree the “free lunch” methodology is not the appropriate one. It would’ve been much better had the schools/students competed for the opportunity to take part in the project. Or if they had just we are picking Stonewall Middle or Bull Run Middle because their names with regards to the Civil War, but that wasn’t the case. 🙁

  9. @Moon-howler
    “If we build it, they will come.”

    It’s not too late.

    Think of it this way–when we dig up an archeological relic, do we say, “Eh, it has been underground for this long, let’s just leave it there”?

  10. huh? I am lost. No one needs to dig up Manassas. Unlike Gettysburg, the town didn’t grow up around the battlefield.

    I go back to the same question which so far, no one has answered: Where is the county going to get $250k?

    Is CVB sitting on the $250k?

    Will any money have to come out of the general funds?

    I need a flow chart to figure out who all the various committees are.

  11. Mom

    “Where is the county going to get $250k?”

    Perhaps Briley’s salary and benefits, heh, heh, heh.

    Might be a better investment of funds to attract economic development, snark, snark.

  12. Manassasman

    Howler – The County has unsed TOT funds that is used for Parks, Historic Preservation, CVB and other Tourism related projects. It comes from the tax visitors pay when they stay in a hotel. A tourism tax….There is about $800,000 left this year in that fund, that is where the money would come from…BUT…FY11 TOT is supposed to be lower, and this money is the CVB’s budget, and they are hiring full time staff (they have been without for sometime) and this money also pays for a good portion of the Historic Preservation budget…so its NOT idle money

  13. Opinion

    So… we are talking about taking money from the Government group responsible for tourism and giving it to a private group? Wouldn’t the citizens of Prince William County lose a voice in how this money is spent once this happens (since it would be outside the elected Governance process or County staff oversight)? Wouldn’t the BOCS (our elected officials) lose control of oversight of how this money is spent once this happens? Will they be back to ask for more in the future should things go “wrong”?

    This topic is going to be discussed at the 6:00 session of the BOCS. The County Attorney’s office is reporting and I believe staff will be providing input. I would suggest this is one BOCS meeting worth watching on video. Considering the other money being requested from various sources, the CVB could change the economic, social, and cultural direction of Prince William County perminantly. We should make such a decision very carefully. I don’t believe such a decision should be left to a private group.

  14. manassaman

    Yes to all you said above…something tells me this will be tabled to a later date. That way VCE can meet with BOS members behind closed doors to make a deal…I love transparency in government! These things are decided before they go before the public…..all the wrangling and words during the meetings is just political posturing for the voters.

  15. PWC taxpayer

    Manassas is correct with respect to the TOT funds, but is absolutely wrong about the recurring nature of the request, the numbers of reenactors and spectators, what has been going on for 25 years in the historical reenactment (volunteers) community and therefore the potential revenue that can be generated and must not have read most of the comments already posted because VCWE is not a private group – its a 501c3. Its clear that this request is for seed money – as a part of a partnership – to get the thing going over the long term. Presumably, if the number of visits increases by having a main attraction, the fund will rebuild quicker than if the reenactment is not held.
    For the life of me , I do not understand why folks would oppose to a win-win opportunity, where for very little money, the County gets a big bump in tourism and local spend, direct and indirect long term job growth, a new source of tax revenue and, separately, a new source of funding that is committed to the preservation of our historical assets. Opinion, the $500,000 supplemental funding the local agencies want is for that small sedate, educational lecture and, yes, torch light program that they have set out and will control, but it will bring in nonone that was not already coming to PWC. Sure, lets take some 6-graders on a field trip. That’s a creative solution to our economic problem – not. If you want to plead that we are broke (without going back to the nature and limits of TOT spending) – that field trip is an irresponsible expenditure right now that should be on the schools. You folks must all be public employees, retired or have a business that is doing great, but you need to consider the majority of residents in the community. And Moon, what part of Manassas or PWC is not historic or a battlefield. We have the Marine Corps Museum on the east and the NPS Manassas on the west, in between we have Mosby and Kettle Run, Bristow and Buckland. Some of us did grow up in it without it being supported by a Community too interested in becoming a suburb. Here is a chance to diversify, before its too late. Given the availability of TOT funds, which investment has the potential to help the County more?

  16. Then the county sure has more money than they suggest. Does anyone else just feel like throwing up their hands, giving up, and saying they don’t care.

    What I am finding disturbing is different people are coming on this blog, all with different information. Ordinarily this would be a good thing but in this case, I feel like only certain people are privy to information.

  17. Opinion

    @PWC taxpayer
    Just to make sure that people have the right informaion, a 501(c)3 is by definition a private group. The only oversight is the IRS (Form 990) and the Virginia Department of Taxation. Should VCE actually come into possession of 1.35 million plus, its BOD will be the only oversight of how it is spent… ergo, my reasoning for keeping the money in a Government organization.

    Frankly, I’m more concerned about the long term impact on the County than the event itself. I just don’t see the math to back up your many claims of benefits to the County or a plan to tell us just how much this will relly cost or what the long term impacts to the County will be. I’m sure it will create jobs; however, I would rather see high paying technical jobs attracted to the County vice more fast food, souviner sales and hotel maid positions. I’m not sure the businesses that would create the technical jobs will be attracted to a County that has chosen tourism as its future direction. To be clear, “I’m not sure” is the operative phrase. This proposal needs more analysis. The County would not be well served by a hasty decision.

    This is no different in principle than the folks from Disneyworld telling us how wonderful a park would be for our community. That discussion also started with a great deal of excitement from many corners; however, it disintegrated under close inspection. I just ask that our BOCS really think about the VCE proposal before supporting it.

    The very fact that the VCE is asking for public money from all quarters instead of attempting to raise (tax deductible) funds privately is, in itself, an indication that perhaps this proposal lacks broad support from the County business community and residents.

  18. Opinion

    …and for the record, VCE is not yet a 501(c)3 and doesn’t expect to be one until July 2010. Since their sole purpose is lobbying City, County, State and Federal Government for money and policy decisions, there is a good chance their request will not be approved. I would propose that VCE should be a private, for profit organization (and suspect that will be the case if the IRS truly examines their non-profit request).

    Wouldn’t that be an interesting conundrum… 1.35+ million worth of checks to VCE and their non-profit status doesn’t get approved. We need to slow down and see the certificate before writing any checks.

  19. Lafayette

    TOT money or not it is still PWC money and that of it’s taxpayers. I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced 9 days of events of the 150th Anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas will bring us huge returns for years to come. They are asking for this money for the First Battle of Manassas and will more than likely ask again when it’s 150th Anniversay of the the Second Battle of Manassas is upon us.

    Of course there are always “certain” people privy to information, but that doesn’t mean they are right. Those in the know will still put thier spin on it. I take comments on blogs as personal opinions, not neccessarily fact. There are some facts, but for the most parts it’s just opinions….and we all have them.

    I love how PWC taxpayer has made such assumptions as to the employers of posters here. That has NOTHING to do with the discussion at hand. One could make an assumptions as to their employer or what board they might be a memeber of.

  20. Taxpayer, I am not quite sure what you are talking about. This leads me to believe perhaps you have been sold a bill of goods. I am into the trust but verify mode here.

    Why does anyone think that Creston Owen or any other mortal is going to wave a magic wand and transform PWC and Manassas into a civil war buff’s dream city? Frankly, all the Civil War buffs know about us. An events group will increase participation. Marketing, advertising, thoughtful planning all make the event better. It won’t turn us into a mecca for all that is Civil War. That ship has sailed….many years prior.

  21. PWC taxpayer

    @ Opinion

    Will you will agree that a non-profit – acting in a partnership with public agencies and the BOCS is not the same thing as a for-profit company, acting in its own interest? Calling it a private group is a little – what was the word – disingenuous. For the record, an MOU with the County is required, with transparancy requirements, above and beyond IRS and VDT requirements. Could the County kill the goose that is now positioned to lay the golden egg – you bet – but to who’s advantage. A 501c3 has peculinary gains provisions or to the public agencies that clearly want all of that TOT funding directly. Killing this idea does not seem to me to help the local hotels and restruants, who would benefit from increased tourism spend or the construction industry if that stimulated economic growth. How does killing this multi-event proposal – which will pay for itself, pay for the set up of future revenue generating events (2nd Manassas, ect, ) return money to the County and relieve those public agencies and the County of at least a large part of their current capital funding from the general fund help County residents?

    Not sure what your views on economic development and growthg are – can’t tell – but I have been around a long time and fully support controlled and limited growth. One of the reasons I favor this proposal is that it seems to me that we can open up a new source of revenue without trading off the land, and expenses for schools (the County’s dominate expense)or roads. Yes, we should have more traffic during the event – but that is generally short term and not competitive with the week-day commuter traffic. More to the point, how can this proposal conflict with the growth of highpaying techncal jobs? It is and should be a multi-pronged approach to economic and tax revenue growth. And as to Disney, this is nothing close to that. This is not an effort to build a for-profit on the battlefield. From the get-go the principles here are different – and the County is being asked much, much less in terms of long term tax and investment seed incentives. Not even close.

  22. PWC taxpayer

    We are not going to agee on this. You guys can argue with the BOCS on how to cut the already constrained pie all day long – while the rest of us resist an increase in our taxes – particularly now. I think the BOCS will have to answer to the hotel and restruant community for any decison killing this proposal – it really is their taxed investment money. I view this as an opportunity to increase the pie for minimal to no risk. Apparantly most of you do not see it that way. I see it as a win-win, you see it as a diversion from bigger government growth, control & funding.

    Those of you who have argued – let the private sector do it and give all the funds to public agencies have your own agendas. As a public employee, it is not about accountability. But, lets be clear– if this proposal fails to pass muster by the BOCS, the County will lose out on those significant new revenues. Are you going to replace them – how? The big events can and have been done by the private sector. Indeed, significant large scale and successful reenactments of 1st Manassas, have been done everywhere but Manassas and PWC over the past 50 years. The 145th, for example, was done at Cedar Creek and had 10,000 reenactors and can be done there again in 2011, 2012, 2013 and beyond. The message will have been recieved by the reenactor community that PWC – like Spotsylvania – is not interested in their history and will go elsewhere. Gettysburg is laughing at us and hoping we do not do this – there is land avaialble there too to do 1st Manassas. I am a history buff, have some sense of the underfunding that our current historical assets experience (deferred capital maintenance and operating funds) and I already pay a heck of a lot in local taxes. The loss of this investment opportunity will really tick me off as being irresponsible with my money.

  23. Mom

    Potential Golden Egg or potential for egg on their faces, the case for the latter is much easier to make. Both PWC & Manassas are not equipped to reap the potential benefits that some have predicted, Lafayette, you are correct, that ship sailed long ago when the BOCS chose to favor vast tracts of residential housing over more prudent development patterns. There are too few support services ie: hotels, decent restaurants, etc. to realize the benefits (thus Fairfax with it plethora of options would likely be the prime beneficiary) and there is neither the time, funding or space to construct new facilities in time to realize additional benefits. As a result, if pursued on the scale suggested, all we would likely get are more souvenir shacks, short term business ventures, unsustainable fast food restaurants, fireworks stands and flood of carneys and unskilled laborers whose principal contributions would likely be detailed in the weekly police report and realized as the gene pool got shallower (now theres a scary thought with regard to future BOCS members).

    Having followed this thread for a couple of days, it strikes me that those few strident supporters sound an awful lot like those chamber members who arrive in masse to public hearings, monopolizing the first hour with repetitive statements about how more flexibility and more options must be allowed (see Comp Plan Land Use hearings, 24 Centers, etc.) in order for growth and economic development to be realized. Interestingly, the only thing I see come of this, as reported by Mr. Briley in this reports, are more Starbucks and barristas that either can’t afford to live in the county or live in Mom’s basement.

  24. Manassasman, I fear you are right. Many deals are cut behind the scenes.

    No one wants to kill the events of the Sesquicentennial. Many people here have questions has to who should be managing what goes on. It might be that Owen should be doing it. There are just many unanswered questions.

    We are entitled to have these questions answered.

  25. Lafayette

    PWC taxpayer,
    History buff? HA!! Where were you when there were reenactments at Ben Lomond Park and Long Park both parks are county parks. You fail to realize the Manassas battlefield is just that it’s our battlefield, and nobody can take that away from us.

    Well, it seems to me if we are going to have the increase in traffic you speak of for a few days, then I’m inclided to believe the tourist dollars won’t be around much longer than the extra traffic. One day of traffic in No. Va. will have them hitting the highway back to their homes. They’ll be saying “get me out of here”. Again, if there were real tourist dollars to be made off of the Manassas Battlefield it would’ve been done long ago.

  26. Opinion

    @PWC taxpayer
    PWC Taxpayer, you bring up some interesting points and valuable insight to the discussion. Thank you. In answer to your question, “Will you will agree that a non-profit – acting in a partnership with public agencies and the BOCS is not the same thing as a for-profit company, acting in its own interest?” I would have to say yes, I agree with that proposition.

    I assume your argument is in support of the idea and not necessarily in support specifically of VCE. My question to you is if in fact this is a good idea that passes muster after due diligence and analysis, why should Prince William County engage in what effectively is a non-competitive, sole source “contract” to compete with the organization responsible for event planning at the expense of perhaps better qualified and more cost effective options? It is my understanding that the PWC CVB has already been working very hard to do many of the things that Mr. Owen presented to the board. Should the PWC CVB determine that assistance is required, I would assume that an RFP would be prepared and that the work would be competed among qualified companies. There are companies that specialize in events management. Competition will ensure that the businesses of Prince William County (those hotels, restaurants, etc. get the best, most cost effective approach to supporting the Sesquicentennial. I assume that’s what you want… the BEST event management for Prince William County… correct?

    Should this task be awarded sole source without competition, I would suspect protests would quickly follow. Considering the IT scandal from which the County is still recovering, I’m sure that questions over sole source contract awards of this type are something they would want to (for very good reasons) avoid. If one buys into the proposition this is a good idea (and I’m not sure I do at the moment), it should be competed.

    You have proposed a lofty vision. If, after careful analysis and due diligence, that vision is validated with data I would propose it is worth considering. The “problem” with lofty visions such is this is the law of unintended consequences. In fact, right now we neither know if your vision is close to reality nor what the impact will be on the community and the daily lives of Prince William County’s residents. The revenue projections are speculative at best. It’s a math problem. County leadership and staff needs to do the math.

    I just suggest (particularly to our Chairman and County Supervisors) that we slow down a bit and think about this before rushing to judgment. Based upon what I have seen and heard to date, I see no reason to transfer public money to a private enterprise to perform tasks that a public agency is as already doing or tasked to do.

    That’s just my opinion.

  27. Al Alborn

    My comments to the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors on 15 December 2009

    Mr Chairman, Members of the Board of County Supervisors,

    I’m here to comment on Mr. Creston Owen’s presentation last Tuesday, 8 December, on behalf of Virginia Civil War Events Inc. and that organization’s vision for Prince William County. I listened to the video twice to make sure I understood the message. Mr. Owen articulated a vision of tourism as the future for Prince William County. I listened carefully as he shared estimates of increased volumes for area attractions… phenomenal numbers…. I think he wants to triple the attendance at the Marine Corps museum. I was particularly struck by the fact that he emphasized how lucky we were to live on I95 and I66 mentioning with pride that I95 is the busiest highway in the Country.

    How many of you commute to or from D.C. or Tyson’s Corner on I95 or I66 between 5:00-10:00 or 2:00-7:00 every day? How many have been on I95 or I66 on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or other holidays? …summer vacation?

    I’m here on behalf of those folks who commute today… most Prince William County residents. I suggest that perhaps making Prince William County a permanent tourist attraction may not be the most prudent tactical decision. We are a bedroom community with a transportation infrastructure already operating at maximum capacity. VDOT is broke. There will be no road investments for a long time. The “unintended consequences” of a decision to make Prince William County a tourist destination and the transition to a tourist based economy would probably be the collapse of our transportation infrastructure for our residents and an embarrassment to our County when word got out just how difficult it is to get into and out of the county.

    I checked our comprehensive plan. There’s nothing about tourism. In fact, the opening statement is, “The Comprehensive Plan for Prince William County contains a clear strategy for responsible, fiscally-sound growth to produce a vibrant, prosperous, stable, ‘livable’ community. The Plan encourages new opportunities for high-end housing and targeted economic development that will strengthen the County’s tax base and balance existing housing and economic activities.” I searched for the word Tourism… nada.

    This vision Mr. Owen articulated last Wednesday is a change. It is perhaps a permanent change in the nature and character of Prince William County. This is a change that does not appreciate the reality that for the foreseeable future most of our resident clogs I95 & I66 every morning and every evening to take care to get to and from their jobs. It does not factor in the impact of adding thousands of tourists to I95 and I66 on a year round basis. This is a change that probably will make Prince William County a much less “livable” community.

    I strongly recommend that we do not look to tourism for our economic growth and future and stick with the current comprehensive plan. I was a professional soldier for twenty-two years. I understand battlefields. I certainly understand the need for a dignified Sesquicentennial event; however, let’s not turn this event into an opportunity to transition Prince William County into a tourist attraction.

  28. Lafayette

    Mr. Alborn,
    Thank you for writing the letter and taking your time to address the board this evening. My husband and I both agreed with your comments. Well done.

  29. Al Alborn

    You’re welcome. It struck me that none of our Supervisors, staff, or perhaps the principals in this initiative are actually aware of what a nightmare our roads are for commuters. Making Prince William County into a tourist attraction would turn the nightmare into “hell on earth” for our residents.

  30. Opinion

    @PWC taxpayer
    I have to ask, PW taxpayer, do you commute to Tyson’s or D.C. every day? It changes your perspective if you do.

  31. And it adds a minimum of 4 hours to your day…..

    Thanks for your input, Al and thanks for taking your time to talk to the Powers That Be.

  32. manassaman

    Anyone who does not want tourism dollars here in PWC is not looking at the big picture. Tourism money helps alleviate tax burden on the residents of a jurisdiction. Tourists alone are not going to clog your roads any more than residents in Stafford or Fauquier Counties already do now on their way to and from work. To bring businesses here (for the tax revenue and to provide LOCAL jobs) you have to have a well balanced community with all sources of revenue and culture…yes, I said it…a community with some heritage and culture. Bringing tourists here is a great idea and it fuels economic growth to help pay for our schools, roads etc… If it was just PWC residents eating at the local restaurants, then there wouldn’t be many places to eat. We can not live in a box with walls around our border. We should give people a great product, invite them here and let the local tax base reap the benefits. Go to Virginia Tourism Council for all the stats on tourism and heritage tourism. Look at Orlando (no, I do not advise we become Orlando) but their taxes are low because of the TOURISM.

    I understand your frustration with the road network..but that fight is with zoning and allowing rampant development occur…NOT bringing tourists to visit the County. They come, they spend their money here and then they go home. Perfect. I just hope that the BOS doesnt give a private group public money to make that happen when they already have agencies in place to do that (CVB).

  33. Hmmm….tourism isn’t even mentioned in the comprehensive plan? Why the heck not?

    Call me a dreamer, but I like Mr. Owen’s vision.

    But Al, you are right that we need the infrastructure to support that vision.

  34. Opinion

    So far, all of the data I have seen has been hypothetical. I have nothing against tourism. It’s the scale proposed that I consider risky. Orlando was engineered from the ground up as a tourist destination. We will have to be retrofitted (and there’s no money for a road retrofit). I would suggest a VDOT traffic analysis using the tourist traffic projected by Mr. Owen as part of the County’s due diligence process.

    It’s a math problem… let’s do the math.

  35. Lafayette

    manassasman, Orlando wasn’t much before Disney. I was very much in favor of Disney coming to PWC. It was a proven money maker and it would have been much better than the Vinyl Villages we have one after the other that we have today in the western end of the county. Those houses meant thousands of students that need to be educated and more commuters on our roads daily(not just during the vacation season). However, a once in a lifetime event doesn’t equate to this being “the place” to vacation for years to come. Furthermore, we do not have a full service hotel in the county.

    We have a lot to offer in the county of historical significance, but the tourists have not flocked to our fair county. Has anyone seen a tour bus rolling through Brentsville proper to tour the old courthouse, one room school house, and jail? Of course the jail is not in proper repair to handle visitors, but it did host the Ghost Hunter’s tv series.

  36. Tour buses go to Potomac Mills and to Splash down. If they go elsewhere in the county, I am unaware. Maybe they will take over Silver Lake since it is free. Now there’s a happy thought.

  37. Lafayette

    Tour buses most definately go to Potomac Mills and it’s is situated right off of 95. I don’t think buses going to BenLomond are tour buses. They are mostly summer camp programs bring their “campers” for the day. I think that’s slightly different.Those buses do come from all around the region though. Then on any given day but especially on the weekends most of the cars had MD plates on them. Of course when it was just a public pool in a public park we did not have that extra traffic. They sure didn’t widen Sudley Manor for the extra traffic during the summer months. 🙂

    There’s NO Swimming at Silver Lake, for now anyways.

  38. manassaman

    Actually, tour buses do come to PWC historic areas…Manassas Battlefield, Marine Corps Museum and yes…even the smaller historic sites. I am not for a one time splash, I think with good investment tourism can be a bigger player in PWC. Not the CW mecca of Gettysburg, that’s just not going to happen. But increasing tourism is a good business decision and will help in adding money to the govt. budget, without taking it out of the pockets of constituents. Thats why I dont agree with spending a large amount of County money on a nine day reenactment event….but in a sustained commemoration for four years to sustain good tourism and proper programs. Anyway, guess we will have to wait till January to see what happens

  39. Increasing tourism is not a bad idea. I am curious where we are going to put all these tourists however. Some could stay at the Downtown Inn and watch the drug busts. Or come on out to the West Side and stay at one of the 10 budget hotel/motels out off of 66. Or they could go give all their money to Fairfax and stay at one of the nicer places out near Dulles in the Chantilly area or pay some big bucks and go to Fairlakes.

    Lafayette is correct. There is no hotel around Manassas that would even be considered a full service hotel. There is some expression…hmmmm….unless you can run with the big dogs, then stay on the porch. The old expression keeps running though my mind.

  40. Opinion

    Actually, I think Manassasman captured my feelings rather succinctly in his last post. I’m not against tourism in general and consider it a source of revenue worth developing. I am against changing the focus of Prince William County to tourism and turning the County into a major tourist destination. That’s not in our current comprehensive plan and shouldn’t be the emphasis of the next version (IMHO).

    My objection is a matter of scale.

  41. manassaman

    I understand what you are saying, but most of these people who would travel here would actually visit the entire NoVa region…NOT just PWC. I dont see a problem with that. If they come here and have lunch or dinner, that’s good for our businesses.

    And yes, some will stay at our hotels…I guess you think heritage tourists travel like Donald Trump? Most are families who dont want a five star place to stay. The Hampton or Holiday Inn is just fine. I am really surprised by the negativity towards tourism. I guess we all just want to say “Stay out of PWC” and pay higher personal property taxes and not encourage economic development? Trust me, money from tourism is a lot smarter, reliable (top three in Virginia industries) than building more houses and waiting on real estate taxes…Lets learn from that mistake. No, we are not Gettysburg and the boat has sailed on creating a pastoral landscape, that does not preclude making money off of visiting tourists. Whether anything gets passed or not, these people will be here in 2011 (many are already coming, tourism in PWC is up 15% over last year!). You can complain about traffic and the hotels, but these people are coming. Lets give them a good lasting image of PWC. I think we all can agree with that!

  42. We cannot accommodate large crowds. Any event in the area generally books up all the hotels here.

    Many people like to stay in hotels that offer more services than the ones around here. Forget 5 star. 3 star is about as good as it gets. They will go out to Dulles to do it. Not sure it gets much better out there as far as stars go. Interestingly enough, the more expensive Hampton Inns aren’t at Dulles. Check it out.

    I don’t think we standardize a star rating system in this country. I think it is done more by locality–like in Vegas, all the 4 stars would have the same accommodations.

  43. Opinion

    I’m guessing we will be one of those places people just pass through on their way do D.C., Disneyland, or someplace else. A quick off and on I66 and you’re on your way (which is in itself an issue, since I95 is the real tourist route). We just aren’t set up as a destination and as charming as our community is I don’t think folks are going to spend the day trying to find our many treasures.

    Tourist think: Once you’ve seen the battlefield, you’ve seen the battlefield.

  44. Mom

    Our greatest weakness and principal reason for people just passing through on their way to other locations is the lack of a Stuckey’s. Who needs hotels, just think of the revenue generated by peanut brittle sales alone.

  45. Opinion, I could make the same argument about the Grand Canyon. It is sort of a one pony show. Unless you are hiking to the bottom like Ivan and Mrs. Ivan did, once you’ve seen the GC, you have seen the GC.

    They also have a lousy hotel selection there and crummy restaurants. Manassas is in much better shape as far as restaurants go.

  46. […] Sesquicentennial Plans Presented to BOCS […]

Comments are closed.