Maggie mindset must change

May 28, 2013

Sometimes it takes someone standing on the outside looking in to tell you something you may already know deep down.

That’s what happened last week when Craig Madison presented the Move Maggie Forward plan to town officials and the business community. Many of Madison’s observations and recommendations were not surprising, especially not the concern of constant fighting among groups.

No one wants to visit, live or open a business in a dysfunctional town. If Maggie Valley wants to improve, the first step is to create unity in the town. That means the board of aldermen and the mayor need to put egos aside, the businesses need to stop seeing each other as competition and all residents need to help improve Maggie’s image.

The other major recommendation was that Maggie desperately needed to improve its curbside appeal. One way to address the problem of vacant and/or dilapidated buildings is for the town to pass a vacant building ordinance to require empty buildings to be properly maintained.

That would be a start, but other recommendations, including hiring a design team, are going to cost money — money the town doesn’t have. The community needs to work together to identify a funding source for these much-needed improvement projects.

The only readily available revenue source we’re aware of has been put on hold in Raleigh after some residents and hotel owners voiced opposition to it. As Madison pointed out during his presentation, Maggie could have greatly benefited from increasing the county’s occupancy tax from 4 to 6 percent to pay for capital improvement projects.

Since the town collects more than 50 percent of the occupancy tax, it stands to reason that Maggie would be able to get a portion of the money to mend their appearance for visitors. But now that option can’t be brought up again until the next long General Assembly session in 2015.

The town as a whole and individual tourism attractions should go before the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority to request funding for promotions and events that will continue to help Maggie Valley tourism.

The things that are working, including the Wheels Through Time Museum and the festival grounds that are attracting motorcycle enthusiasts, should be financially supported through the TDA. However, until the long-term problems of internal bickering and infrastructure are addressed in Maggie, the local economy will continue to limp along.