To the Editor:
I have several concerns about the Forest Hills annexation after attending the second extended meeting between Forest Hills and Western Carolina University. Many good questions were asked and deflected with ambiguity.
I understand that WCU has yet to produce full documents of disclosure, and I anticipate an interesting read. My first concern is where is the study to prove that Cullowhee can economically support such a venture. It was stated that the “CAT” card proves that students will use this corporate Town Center. The CAT card is not reliable assessment of our local economics, and most of the students who are forced to have a CAT card are under the drinking age.
The university’s schedule creates a hardship for local businesses for almost four months out of the year between winter break, spring break and summer session, not to mention, these are students and they don’t have much expendable income.
Our second-home market goes dead in the water during winter, and as a Cullowhee resident, I do not see this being a responsible venture. Adding insult to injury, Chancellor John Bardo stated that the rent prices within the Town Center will be too high for local entrepreneurs, and local businesses will not have a fair chance of competing as alcohol sales will only be allowed within the Town Center.
I am begging Forest Hills to consider, at the very least, in writing, a contract for fair square footage rent prices allowing our locals a chance to truly enjoy the use of his Town Center and allow local dollars to generate locally and not only enhance some corporate bank account. I believe it is smart to embrace our growth, but we must be responsible about it. Otherwise, we will have a Town Center that lies empty, like the Sleep Inn in Sylva that deteriorates as I type. That is an empty eyesore, a blemish to our viewshed benefiting no one.