Ensley wants room tax money for recreation

Recreation programs in Haywood County could get a huge boost from tourism dollars if commissioners follow through on a recommendation made at the Monday work session.


Just moments before adjourning, Commissioner Kevin Ensley proposed that 1 percent of the proposed room tax increase — about $200,000 a year — be allocated for recreation projects.

“That would give us up to $200,000 a year for capital projects,” said Ensley, who will go off the board next month after losing in the November election.

The proposal came during a work session dedicated to re-structuring the tourism development authority (see story on this page). Although such a proposal has been discussed in the past, this was the first time a formal proposal was put forth.

Other commissioners voiced support for Ensley’s proposal.

“Our new master recreation plan is coming out next week and it recommends two facilities in two areas. It would be great to have a funding source,” said Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick.

The money could be used for ball fields, soccer complexes, trails and greenways, and other projects. Many recreation supporters have said events like soccer tournaments and swim meets that draw hundred and even thousands of visitors could be a benefit to tourism.

“These kinds of projects would give people things to do when they are here,” said Chairman Mark Swanger, who will also go off the board next month.

However, commissioners Larry Ammons and Mary Ann Enloe said Ensley’s recommendation caught them off guard.

“I have not heard this before. I’ll have to think on it,” said Ammons.

No timetable was set for further discussion of the issue.

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