Partnership with Blowing Rock Historical Society

July 25, 2021

Blowing Rock Homeowners,

We are pleased to announce a partnership between Blowing Rock Historical Society and Blowing Rock Civic Association to produce a video history of Blowing Rock.

Please join the Historical Society next Sunday to learn more about this and other exciting projects.

See invitation below.

Two of our board members have combined their skills with Tom O’Brien and others to produce the video. The Civic Association will fund the production by videographer, Steve Frank, owner of SocialWorks.Media.

Barry Buxton will write the script, Jean Kitchin will produce the video and Tom O’Brien and his team will provide amazing historical photographs.

Sunday August 1, 4:30 PM
American Legion Building

Enjoy refreshments and visit with friends

See what we have done and are doing for our community

Learn about our History Walk, and the Edgewood Museum

Watch Barry Buxton’s presentation – The Fascinating History of Blowing Rock”

Bring a friend that may be interested in joining

Renew your membership if you haven’t already

The award winning “A Village Tapestry” will be on sale, and Barry Buxton will sign your book.

YOUR INVITATION – BLOWING ROCK AMBULANCE SERVICE

REMINDER RSVP DEADLINE
Blowing Rock Civic Association
Your Invitation

Why is Watauga County ambulance response time to Blowing Rock double the response time to Boone?

Why doesn’t Blowing Rock have a 24/7 ambulance?

As homeowners in Blowing Rock, we need to know what to expect if a family member needs emergency help.

Thursday, July 22nd

4:30 PM

Lake House
Blowing Rock Country Club

Mayor Charlie Sellers and Town Manager Shane Fox will share information about EMS service in Blowing Rock and address our questions about the future.

RSVP by July 19th
Reply to this email at info@brcivic.org
Email questions for our speakers!
Seating limited to the first 100
Cash Bar and snacks
Parking at Fitness Center

Invitation to attend Tourism Progress Report by Roger Brooks

July 10, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Tourism Development Authority invites you to a “Progress Report” by Roger Brooks to share his preliminary observations and recommendations for the Sustainable Tourism Plan.

This meeting is a very important next step for the community to learn and ask questions.

The public meeting will be held on Thursday morning at 10 am in the Town Hall Council Chambers. The session will be recorded and available on the Town website.

The first meeting you attended was our first impressions and initial ideas.

This meeting will showcase the list of ideas and a few recommendations based on two days of meetings with local interest groups and from the online questionnaire. The presentation will last about an hour with half an hour for Q&A afterwards.

If have not done so already, please fill out the quick survey that is circulating around town and available at this link.

bit.ly/LifeInBlowingRock

If you have any additional comments or questions that you believe I can explore for you, please share by REPLYING to this email.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Take Sustainable Tourism Study!

July 8, 2021

Each month the Tourism Development Authority issues a newsletter to provide important information about tourism events and topics in Blowing Rock. If you visit the lower right hand bottom of the Blowingrock.com website, you will find a “Subscribe to E-Newsletter” link here: https://blowingrock.com/contact-us/social-media/ There are also links to various social media accounts, which may also help you in the loop.

As you know Roger Brooks is in Town to lead a Sustainable Tourism Study for Blowing Rock.

Mr. Brooks shared his initial observations on July 1st in a three hour presentation that is available for you to review below.

The MOST IMPORTANT NEXT STEP is for you to COMPLETE A SURVEY using the link provided below. YOUR VOICE IS IMPORATANT as the TDA and Town Council formulate recommendations to balance the impact of tourism on our village to insure a quality of life for residents and quality experience for visitors.

You will learn what Mr. Brooks attributes most of our negative experiences to Downtown Congestion caused by inadequate parking and wayfinding. People will come, so how do we prioritize People as pedestrians, not Cars in our Downtown.

The TDA released the following survey link and link to the Town’s YouTube video on July 5, 2021.

Take the Survey!

The Blowing Rock TDA wants to hear from residents, business owners, and locals as we work toward a Sustainable Tourism Management Plan. A survey of just nine questions is currently available. These are not multiple-choice questions; the open-ended format allows respondents to give full opinions and suggestions. Complete the survey here:

bit.ly/LifeInBlowingRock

This link is case sensitive, so note that if typing into a browser.


Video of Presentation and Next Steps

Roger Brooks presented his Assessment Findings & Suggestions Workshop last week. This was recorded, and can be viewed on the Town’s Youtube channel:

Roger begins by giving an overview of first impressions of Blowing Rock. He notes that Blowing Rock is a place that feels safe, welcoming, and authentic. He points out so many things that make Blowing Rock a special and unique place. He begins talking about overtourism at 31:00, along with comparisons to places that suffer from it. From there, he gives suggestions on general things that could be addressed. At 40:15 he begins discussing parking. With parking as a main issue to address, he goes into more detail for potential priorities beginning at 46:20. These suggestions are meant to be a conversation starter, and are all based on Roger’s decades of experience working in destination communities. The next steps will be about tailoring recommendations to our unique community.

This week, Roger will focus on listening to the community. He began meeting with some groups today, including Town Council. Focus groups include lodging, homeowners, retail, and more. Along with the survey responses, the information gathered in these interviews will help inform the overall Sustainable Tourism Management Plan. We look forward to hearing from more of you!

Public Input – TDA Tourism Management Study

Blowing Rock TDA Begins Work on Tourism Management Plan
Public Input Needed

BLOWING ROCK, N.C. (June 2021) – Like many mountain destination towns, Blowing Rock saw a very busy year during the pandemic as people sought outdoor escapes. The sudden growth in visitation prompted the board of the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority (TDA) to commission another in-depth study of Blowing Rock- this time to create a Tourism Management Plan. What are the best ways for our community to preserve the things that make it special, while being open to growth? What should that growth look like? The TDA wants everyone to be part of this conversation!

A professional researcher and facilitator, Roger Brooks of Destination Development Association, has been hired to help the TDA and the Town of Blowing Rock coordinate the effort required to create a plan. Roger Brooks has worked with over 2000 communities across the globe to help them improve the lives of their residents and the experiences of their visitors by finding sustainable solutions to unique challenges. He will be arriving in July to stay in Blowing Rock for a month to learn all he can about the place we call home.

It’s not his first visit, however. Mr. Brooks “secret shopped” Blowing Rock earlier this year, and the kickoff for this project is a public presentation of his experiences. The public is invited to his Assessment Findings & Suggestions Workshop at the Blowing Rock American Legion building on Thursday, July 1 at 8:30 a.m. These initial suggestions will be based on successes in other communities, and the presentation promises to be engaging and entertaining. Following the presentation, Mr. Brooks will be available for questions.

The remainder of July will be spent gathering more detailed input from everyone that is willing to offer it, mainly through resident surveys. These can be accessed electronically, or picked up from Town Hall, starting in early July. In addition, Mr. Brooks will be conducting interview sessions on Tuesday, July 6 and Wednesday, July 7. Each interview is a listening session for small groups of year-round and seasonal homeowners, business owners, organizations, frontline employees, etc. If you would like to be part of these hour-long discussions with Mr. Brooks, sign up by calling the Blowing Rock TDA at 828-295-4636 or emailing Amanda Lugenbell: amanda@visitblowingrock.com.

Blowing Rock has long been a travel destination, and with more people come challenges with parking and traffic flow, pedestrian movement, and strain on local and natural resources. The Blowing Rock TDA seeks to turn challenges into opportunities while helping make the town a better place to live, work, and visit.

“The Blowing Rock TDA has always been invested in improving the lives of residents through the local tourism economy, while making efforts to mitigate the impact of visitors,” said Tracy Brown, Director of the Blowing Rock TDA. He noted that occupancy taxes collected by the TDA have funded parking decks and sidewalk improvements, and contributed to community assets like the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum and the Middle Fork Greenway. Since its organization, the Blowing Rock TDA has also worked to spread out visitation by encouraging visitation in off-season months and on weekdays. “A Tourism Management Plan will allow a more measured, proactive approach to ensuring a sustainable tourism economy in Blowing Rock,” Brown said. “The TDA looks forward to building this plan with the entire community, and we’re excited to get started.”

For more information about the presentation, study, or the upcoming management plan, contact Tracy Brown at the Blowing Rock TDA, 828-295-4636 or tbrown@visitblowingrock.com.

24/7 Ambulance Service

Blowing Rock Civic Association
Your Invitation

Why is Watauga County ambulance response time to Blowing Rock double the response time to Boone?
Why doesn’t Blowing Rock have a 24/7 ambulance?
As homeowners in Blowing Rock, we need to know what to expect if a family member needs emergency help.

Thursday, July 22nd
4:30 PM
Lake House at Blowing Rock Country Club

Mayor Charlie Sellers and Town Manager Shane Fox will share information about EMS service in Blowing Rock and address our questions about the future.

RSVP by July 15th
Reply to this email at
Seating limited to the first 100
Cash Bar and snacks
Parking at Fitness Center

FY21-22 Town Budget Drivers

FY21-22 Budget Drivers

June 5, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners

Our challenge is to present the facts for a complex budget in simple terms to inform the homeowners before the Town Council votes to approve the new budget at the Budget Public Hearing on June 8th.

We believe that our role is to educate the homeowners, so they can have a framework to understand the decisions of the Town Council.

The centerpiece of this budget is the Town’s goal to compensate and retain the employees who provide our services in an environment where the County, Boone and University are all moving to raise minimum pay to reach a living wage of at least $15 per hour.

The Town Manager and Finance Director have prepared a comprehensive 129 page budget document that can be viewed on the Town of Blowing Rock website at –
https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10499/637572045334330000

We will focus on the General Fund Budget that is principally funded 60% by property taxes and 13% by net sales taxes and not the Water & Sewer Fund that is run like a business enterprise funded by user fees.

A discussion of this budget is complicated by comparing the FY20-21 “COVID” budget to FY21-22 “normal” budget. Fortunately, actual net sales taxes and occupancy taxes far exceed the conservative estimates used for the FY20-21 COVID budget, thereby avoiding dipping into reserves to balance the budget for last fiscal year. Our property tax base of $1.142 billion provided a stable revenue source during the volatile COVID period. See Page 30.

The easiest way to understand the budget and how it impacts property taxes for homeowners is to talk in terms of the property tax rate in “Cents” per $100 of valuation. The propose budget is based the math that 1 Cent equals $120 thousand of revenue for the General Fund. The property tax rate for last year was 39 Cents and the proposed property tax rate for this year is 43 Cents or a 10% increase of 4 Cents. For example, a home valued at $500,000 would pay property taxes of $1,950 in 2020 and $2,150 in 2021. See Page 16.

For FY21-22, Caldwell County revalued all real property that represents about 9% of our $1.175 billion tax base or $107 million The budget does not include a roll back for the 5.8% increase in property values in Caldwell County. See Pages 5 and 30.

The proposed property tax increase is $593 thousand of which $480 thousand is due to a 4 Cents increase in tax rate and the remainder is due to growth in tax base and Caldwell County revaluation.

Watauga County will revalue all real property in Blowing Rock for next fiscal year. The increase is expected to be fairly substantial and the Town will present a roll-back property tax rate for the next year’s budget for comparison.

The Key Drivers for expenditure increases in the General Fund Budget follow:

Compensation – 5.4 Cents
321 Landmark Landscaping Contract – 1.1 Cents
Debt Service of $3.5 million GO Bond – 2.5 Cents
Debt Service for DOT Land on 321 – .4 Cents
Total – 9.5 Cents

The increases are offset by other revenue increases of 5.5 Cents due to a 3.6 Cents increase in net sales taxes, 1 Cent increase in TDA occupancy taxes and .8 Cents from other revenue sources.

A description of Key Drivers follows:

The compensation package for all employees is about 70% base pay and 30% for benefits – 10% for insurance and 20% for retirement. The key goal in this budget is to raise the minimum base pay for 3 levels of employees and adjust the pay ranges for the remaining 12 levels of employees. The average base pay for the 59 General Fund employees will increase from $44.2 thousand to $53.1 thousand. The increase for General Fund employees is $650 thousand per year.

The Town committed to take over a Landmark level landscaping from the DOT after completion of Highway 321 which will start this fiscal year. The goal is to extend the special landscaping look that we enjoy in downtown, so 321 is not just an ugly by-pass. The Town Manager evaluated a contract solution versus permanent staff. The scope is significant with thousands of trees and shrubs and miles of medians and banks. The contract solution allows the Town to avoid adding permanent employees and purchasing a significant about of equipment. A recurring allocation of funds from the TDA Occupancy Taxes will offset 50% of the cost, thereby sharing the total cost of $264 thousand.

The Town issued a third General Obligation Bond of $3.5 million in FY20-21 which increases debt service by $305 thousand per year.
The Town purchased a DOT property at the corner of North Main Street and Highway 321 for $442 thousand adding $48 thousand of debt service per year.

We hope that this analysis will help you understand the Town’s General Fund Budget and the key drivers that are impacting the proposed FY21-22 budget.

As we look to future budgets and the timing of the Sustainable Tourism Study scheduled for this summer, we need to begin a discussion of additional sources of funding to cover the increasing costs of managing tourism impacts on the Town. The allocation formula for the TDA occupancy tax was adopted almost 20 years ago in 2003 when the primary goal was to attract tourists compared to the current challenge of managing tourists. Demands on the General Fund Budget is not matching up with business and tourism sources of funding. Examples of increasing costs include operating and infrastructure costs like new bathrooms, park improvements, land acquisition for parking, bathroom attendants, and additional trash management, parking enforcement, additional police, 321 landscaping and three new crosswalks.

You can send comments or questions to the Town Council in advance, attend the Town Council meeting or speak at the Public Hearing scheduled for 6 pm on June 8th.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

Memorial Day Event – Saturday – American Legion at 11 AM

May 25, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Dr. Anthony (Tony) Zeiss will be the guest speaker at the American Legion’s annual Memorial Day Program in Blowing Rock’s Memorial Park on Saturday May 29, 2021, at 11:00 A.M. The community is invited to attend.

Dr. Zeiss, one of the nation’s most outstanding educators, was the President of Charlotte’s Central Piedmont Community College for 23 years until his retirement in 2016.

During his tenure Dr. Zeiss built CPCC from one campus to six campuses serving 70,000 students per year. Under his leadership CPCC became the nation’s most outstanding educational institution for workplace development. This focus on workplace development enabled Charlotte to attract many international and national firms to locate facilities in the area. This was a major boost to Charlotte and North Carolina’s outstanding economic growth during Dr. Zeiss’ Presidency. Dr. Zeiss’ advice is often sought by national leaders on educational issues.

After retirement from CPCC Dr. Zeiss became the first Executive Director of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. He successfully led the opening of that outstanding attraction. Returning to North Carolina Dr. Zeiss became the first Executive Director of a special training program for corporate Chief Executive Officers sponsored by Charlotte’s Coca Cola Consolidated.

Along the way Dr. Zeiss has written 20 books on education, leadership, and motivation. He is recognized as one of North Carolina’s most outstanding speakers having addressed numerous groups and organizations. He has led a major effort to recognize notable individuals and events in North Carolina history. He has served on numerous boards of corporations and organizations.

He and his wife Beth have retired but they remain very active in leadership of various organizations. They enjoy spending most of their time now at their Blowing Rock area home.

Blowing Rock Civic Association is pleased to sponsor the event to honor those who have served our country.

Leadership Interview – Issues Resulting from Rising Numbers of Tourists

Town Government Leader Interviews
Issues resulting from the Rising Numbers of Tourists

May 24, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The BRCA is pleased to present discussions with Blowing Rock neighbors who are serving our community in town government leadership. We hope you are enjoying our interview series.

Please join us on our BRCA website to become better acquainted with these dedicated folks and their views on major issues impacting our historic village.

BRCA Board member and Blowing Rock resident Jean Kitchin, an experienced community leader and broadcaster, talks with Town Manager Shane Fox, Council Members David Harwood and Virginia Powell, and Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers. We wish to thank these leaders who agreed to an interview to share their views about our future.

We hope you enjoyed the first four videos to gain a personal insight into the views of our leaders. We want to thank Jean Kitchin her expertise and comfortable interview style.

This week we are rolling out the last of five videos that discusses issues resulting from the rising numbers of tourists. All five videos are posted on our website. See link below.
Introduction of Blowing Rock Town Officials
Discussion of Positive Aspects of Blowing Rock
Discussion of Major Needs in Blowing Rock
Discussion of the Importance of Seasonal Residents
Discussion of the Issues resulting from the Rising Numbers of Tourists

You can view the video interviews on our website at
https://www.brcivic.org/videos

The videos were produced and funded by the Blowing Rock Civic Association with a matching grant from the Mariam & Robert Hayes Charitable Trust.