Maggie can support Ghost Town without giving money

Feb 14, 2014

Alaska Presley, owner of Ghost Town in the Sky, has put forth a proposal to expand her operation to include a winter wonderland at the foot of Buck Mountain.

The winter wonderland, estimated to cost $750,000, would include snow tubing, an ice-skating rink, light and laser shows and a train ride through Santa’s workshop.

This type of project would fit in perfectly with the vision that the town of Maggie Valley has outlined in the Move Maggie Forward study.

The idea of an ice-skating rink has been floating around the valley for several years now and the town has started to gradually purchase new winter wonderland lighting to attract more tourists throughout the shoulder season instead of only Christmas.

Presley gave the town an update on her progress last week and asked if there was anything the town could do to help. The Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen showed its support of the project, but members tried to explain that there was little the town could do financially. While the winter wonderland is a venture worth pursuing, it is not something the town can just write a check for.

Ghost Town is a private business and the town can’t hand over taxpayer money to help a business expand just because it might create 20 minimum wage jobs in the winter. The amount of property tax a business owner pays has nothing to do with it.

That’s not to say the town is unwilling to be supportive of Presley’s efforts to increase tourism and bring new jobs. Town Manager Nathan Clark was directed to look for any grants that might be helpful to Ghost Town, but even those funds are pretty limited at this time.

We know how much Ghost Town and Maggie Valley mean to Presley and how hard she has worked to get it back to its glory days. We hope she is successful in the future for everyone’s sake, but she’ll need to find another way to get financing for the new project.

A winter wonderland park in town would hopefully increase tourism during the months we need it the most and tie in to the winter assets we already have — things like Cataloochee Ski Area and Tube World.

We encourage individuals and businesses that want to privately support the project to meet with Presley to see how they may be able to help. There is no doubt that it would get more people in the valley spending money at hotels, restaurants and shops.