Thursday, April 29, 2010

Decatur needs pavilion as meeting place

Editorial, The Decatur Daily

The proposed pavilion at Ingalls Harbor is an opportunity for Decatur to have a multi-purpose meeting place and help with further re-establishing a resident-friendly waterfront.

City Council members are poised to vote on a funding resolution Monday that probably includes a 25,000-square-foot pavilion that will cost something less than $3 million.

The consideration to build the facility is not if the city needs a gathering place that can seat 1,500, but the city’s ability to finance it.

One proposal is for the city to front the money and for the Hospitality Association to repay the cost from its $2-per-night hotel room occupancy fee. The hotels’ self-imposed fee is for such purposes. The fee is not tax dollars.

The association already is repaying the cost of the harbor improvements through the fee, and a spokesman says it can take on the additional payment.

Tami Reist, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the fee generates about $400,000 per year and is enough to pay for the pavilion and continue to pay the existing debt.

Decatur’s riverfront is a work in pro­gress, but it has made gigantic strides after the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and the city built the Riverwalk at Rhodes Ferry Park.

The addition of a pavilion will bring thousands more people to Decatur. Most of all, it will give Decatur residents greater access to the south bank of the Tennessee River.

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