As my story in Thursday’s Floyd Press details, the long, simmering — and many felt unnecessary — debate over whether or not to retroactively charge FloydFest for use of the Commerce Park for emergency parking last summer may finally be over.
County Administrator Dan Campbell, carrying a message from the board of supervisors to the Economic Development Authority, said any decision to charge for parking was theirs and theirs alone and added an assurance that the EDA would face no repercussions from the board if they decided to let the matter drop.
The board listened to Campbell, as well as FloydFest official Linda DeVito and Oddfellas Cantina owner Kerry Underwood before moving on to the next item on the agenda and taking no action on an earlier reccomendation from the board to charge for use of the Commerce Park.
EDA chairman Jack Russell said members of the EDA would “take time to digest” the issue. The odds of any further action are long. The actions within the EDA meeting led to cancellation of plans by some to speak on the issue at the Board of Supervisors meeting that followed.
Board Chairman Case Clinger, in a comment to a question from me following the meeting earlier this month when the request went out “by consensus” and without a formal vote, suggested the EDA could be punished if it did not comply. Clinger now says the remark was “off the cuff” and did not represent any decision of the board.
In posts to Facebook and area blogs, several Floyd County citizens felt the remark went too far. Clinger says he has received more phone calls supporting his belief that FloydFest should be charged than from those opposing it. The total number of calls overall represented less than one percent of the constituency.
Most of the cars of FloydFest patrons that parked in Floyd after heavy rains forced the event to close its close-in lots,, used the lots of Floyd County High School, the vocational school and the parking lot of Dreaming Creek Timber Frame, which is located in the Commerce Park but which also owns the property where the lot is located. The number of cars that overflowed to other parts of the Commerce Park was small and any amount the EDA could reasonably charge would be miniscule.
FloydFest did pay the school system more than $17,000 for use of school buses and drivers to provide emergency transportation to the event and the schools made a $9,000 profit.
While the controversy is effectively over within the governmental units, it may continue to sizzle within parts of the community, fueled by those with a personal grudge against the summer festival that has brought national recognition to the area and boosted business heavily for town and county merchants.