Tom Byrnes wrote an excellent op-ed in the Free Lance Star today on Fredericksburg’s potential to become a regional tourist hub. Sounds good to me, but in a city that already complains about transient college students, I wonder how well voters here would appreciate it if Fredericksburg did become a nerve center for tourism? Of course, there is a tasteful way to do it that will benefit all concerned, but how many thousands of tourists will cramp our limited infrastructure? Such a course almost mandates a tourist campus at Celebrate Virginia, does it not? To complicate matters more, why should City Hall subsidize downtown businesses with free advertising and infrastructure improvements when we just waged a war against the special interests building Celebrate Virginia? No one wants to trade the Disneyesque art deco world of Central Park for a vision of Colonial Silverburg. Pitfalls abound without a clear direction of just where the city is going. That drumming sound is the fingers of city residents waiting for a clear direction, even if it is just a rational, pragmatic approach to America’s Most Historic City.
Time will tell the tale. More important for our immediate future, City Council should determine the status of Idlewyld before we begin talking about tourism strategies. No matter what the potential gain is for tourism, it will be completely lost to the infrastructure requirements that Idlewyld will bring. . . not to mention the loss of a valuable green belt between the city and the sprawl of Four Mile Fork.