Is proposal worth the cost to taxpayers?
The Randolph County Commission is discussing the possibility of purchasing a light show at the cost of around $55,989. If purchased, the lightshow would light up the Randolph County Court House at Christmas time, featuring holiday music, in the hope of making that location a premier tourist hotspot in the city of Elkins. And having the last show end around 8 p.m. wouldn’t overly disrupt local residents at that time.
Commission President Mark Scott stated that if the County Commission approves the project Randolph County would be the first in the state of West Virginia to have such a light show at a courthouse. If the Commission goes through with this project, we can see a number of challenges.
First, consider the cost. It’s a lot of money. Even though the money would be funded from the Hotel/Motel Tax, is this the best use of this revenue source?
Other things to consider include the proposed location. The Randolph County Court House is located on the busiest street in all of Elkins, and because Randolph Avenue is also U.S. Route 33, 219 and 250, all transit traffic has to use this street. Parking has always been limited on and around Randolph Avenue, so finding parking spaces in that area to watch a Christmas lighting exhibit would be as bad, if not worse, than parking during the Mountain State Forest Festival.
Since the light show would have to take place after dark, there are many safety concerns to consider. Sure, a light show anywhere will most likely be spectacular to watch. But the Randolph County Court House is one of the most historic, and also the most attractive, public buildings in West Virginia. Should the appearance of this historic landmark be altered for a Christmas light show?
It is difficult to know whether this proposed light show would bring commerce to Elkins. Other than a few restaurants, the majority of businesses in downtown Elkins typically close at 5 p.m. And since charging admission would offer even more challenges it is hard to imagine the light show being a moneymaker, especially factoring in the expense of additional electricity usage.
It’s great to have dreams and it is important to have a vision for the future of Randolph County. We commend the Randolph County Commission for any forward thinking, especially when they direct their attention toward growing our community, but a lightshow at the Randolph County Courthouse is not a viable option.
The noise, the traffic congestion and the lack of a proper staging area makes this a troublesome proposal. It shouldn’t require much consideration for officials to realize that this light show at the courthouse would not be a good investment for the taxpayers of Randolph County.