March 06, 2003

Build It And They Will Come

Oh joy! Sitting down with the Floyd County Comprehensive Plan for 2000. This ought to be a yawner, I thought, after acquiring it on loan from the County Supervisor last week. I'm going to have to read the thing and make some sense out of it so I can put Floyd's recent demographic changes and tourism goals into the context of the county's overall growth projections (especially as this relates to 'cultural tourism') and use this to say something about the collective 'identity' of the county. This is a large part of my research project I'm doing for 'class'.

I rather hesitate to confess it, but I found (parts of) the Plan fascinating. There are all sorts of narrative histories, maps (oh joy!) and pie charts and figures that are interesting because they are about matters that are real and are relevant to me because I intend to live here for the long haul. Given the recent conflicts over sudden changes thrust upon the county, the Plan interests me because it is the product of intention, an attempt to insure that change here is the consequence of collective creation, not a random, chaotic accident as seems to have already happened to other small bergs in southwest Virginia. But I'm getting on my soapbox here already, and I've a long way to go before I have enough 'data' to reach any meaningful conclusions.

I should know better than to inflict these random Floyd fragments on readers who have bigger things on their minds; but you know my threshold for posting is rather low, and if it feels good to me at 5:00 in the morning when my fingers first hit the keys, off it goes. (You can always just ignore me for a few days until I put up a picture of the dog or something worth looking at. Humor me. Okay?) Putting all this together is a largish part of how I will be spending my time in the next two months, and as you are painfully aware, I tend to write my life in agonizing detail. Anywho...below are just a few of the pieces related to tourism potential for my county taken from the Comprehensive Plan:

  • "Tourism is an $11 billion-plus industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia (Virginia Tourism Corporation, 1999). According to the U. S. Department of the Interior, in 1998 Virginia had more recreational visits (almost 2.3 million) to National Park Service Areas than any other surrounding states. Of the 7 million visitor days to National Park Service areas in Virginia in 1998, more than half (54.9%) were spent on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  • "Of the 217 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, 40 of those miles are in Floyd County. Mabry Mill, the most photographed site on the Blue Ridge Parkway is located in Floyd County. "

  • "Due in part to its mountains, its natural beauty and its history, Floyd County has grown a rich base of talented, renowned artists and artisans".

  • "Floyd County's many natural and cultural assets and its prime location along the Blue Ridge Parkway have helped make Floyd County one of the fastest growing tourism markets in western Virginia. Tourism revenue in the county increased from 6.3 million in 1995 to $11.1 million in 2000 according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, a jump of 76%. This far outpaced the growth in Virginia at large" (32% during same time period).

How the county, with its rich population of artistic 'come-heres' will promote and benefit from 'cultural tourism' while maintaining its rural charm and without leaving out the older, more traditional and silent segment of the population ... these are questions I'll be asking.

Posted by fred1st at March 6, 2003 05:56 AM | TrackBack

Mebbe they could work a new plan for Whirled Peas and solve the land use Flying Pig conundrum.

Check out who on the commission owns what and where...that'll tell ya all you need to know.

The voters in my county have placed initiatives on the ballot to retain the 20 yr master plan four straight elections to no avail.

I hope you can keep your sweet piece of heaven unsullied.

Posted by: feste at March 6, 2003 04:38 PM

Nothing like a good solid comprehensive plan, I always say. In my newspaper reporter days, I spent many long hours at planning commission meetings, many of them in little towns in Vermont not unlike Floyd, I bet. You know which town emerged victorious? Dumpy, conservative Adams, Mass., with the skin-flintiest school board and the stickiest-in-the-mud selectmen (they call the guys that run Mass towns selectmen, must be from British Common Law, everything else in Mass is.) Adams ended up with a downtown and most of its old mill buildings. In the smaller towns infiltrated by the artsy set, they had to find the money somewhere to pay for the better schools and infrastructure (paved roads, culverts, sewage treatment) that the artsy folks demanded. Have fun with your report. I almost wish it were me writing your paper.

Posted by: travelertrish at March 6, 2003 11:35 PM

It seems my comment has been lost in blogger oblivion. Here's my original comment as best I can remember:

"As you should, Floyd! If not for yourself and those around you, for the rest of us who are longing for the time in our lives when we can return to the quiet natural world, and those moments we can steal away to them now. Why must they consume everything? They unrelentingly destroy variety and richness bit by cultural and natural bit, plunging the world into a bussling suburban mediocrity infused with a careless, helter-skelter chaos of disinterest and convenience. Whether it be people, cities or towns, or corporations, every day they meticulously erode our world with seemingly imperceptible and negligable compromises as a whole, with frighteningly paced rushes in parts, whose change takes true effect only in retrospective over years and decades."

We need to do everything we can to save what is left. How much more compromises can there be before there's nothing left to compromise on? We are the ones making all the compromises.

Posted by: Josh at March 7, 2003 12:45 AM

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