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Letter to the editor: Tanglewood – maybe anywhere – wrong site for ‘agri center’

To the editor:

Forsyth County voters passed a vaguely worded 2016 bond referendum, the majority of the monies are being used to renovate and build schools as well as improvements to Forsyth Tech.  $15 million went to Parks and Recreation; $5 million to a “Multi Use Agri Center.”  The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners is looking to develop a 50,000 square foot multi-use event center with adjoining concrete parking and three barns with temporary stabling for up to 200 horses and possible more cattle, sheep or goats within the sanctuary of the park. Their plan is to build a 2,500 seat indoor arena and to host at least 50 events per year, events such as breed shows, concerts, rodeos and, basically any event anyone wants to hold there.

They created a study group to research what venues are available in the NC (and Va) and learned that all of the venues we have in NC lose money. That’s right, they lose money. The commissioners already know they are going to lose money but are still working to find a viable site and, unfortunately are eyeing Tanglewood Park.

Why Tanglewood?

Their answer is there is already an equine presence there.

Indeed, there is, but no one who boards or rides there wants the event center.

Why?

The current site is on two of four pastures that do not flood. When flooding is bad (that’s at least 3-4 times per year for two weeks or more), we have to rotate the 48 horses through any dry pastures to provide adequate forage and exercise space. We are already concerned about the increased number of people at the park, the walkers and bike riders and, while, most are friendly and respectful to the horses and riders, many more want to hand feed and climb on fences to lean over horses – a safety issue to the horses and to the people.

We hate the idea of our gorgeous green space being torn up, the loss of wildlife habitat would be horrendous. The disruption to peace during construction and during events is immeasurable and, while our primary concern is the health and safety of our horses, we also support the concerns of the adjoining neighborhoods which line many of our horse trails. Would they want traffic comparable to holiday lights 50 times a year? What would happen to their home values? Could emergency responders get through?

Logistics have not been thought out. Comments made by the County Manager Dudley Watts state traffic could be routed up Stable Road, right through the campground and close to the houses on Craver Land Road and Clemmons West. Horse and livestock trailers and trucks up and down that road at all hours will devastate any quiet camping experience as well as any serenity those home owners have now.

Parking for event goers would be on the steeple chase track. Wait, what? It floods throughout the year and more money would be spent shuttling people to the event center, which, by they way would be larger than the Harris Teeter grocery store across the street. Shuttling people will cost the taxpayers even more .

Any animal brought into the park would need a health certificate. With up to 200 horse-sized stalls, who is going to check all of those certificates?

In fact, the commissioners believe the current staff at the park will be able to manage and market the event center. They have no plans to hire additional staff and no additional security for events.

There’s a sewage pump station that can hardly keep up with the current demands in the park, how will it function with increased visitors?  This is located within site of Bermuda Run across the Yadkin River.

Speaking of sewage, the county manager could not comment on how manure from the animals at any event would be removed; in fact, he stated that was one of the issues the other NC venues had lost money on, having to pay a removal service.

This is a poorly thought-out idea. There is a lack of studies on how building this massive complex will affect the peaceful environment of the park, no studies on waste water management or on the ground water. Destroying wildlife habitats and encouraging a massive influx of people and traffic in the quiet serene park is just wrong.  Even with these considerations, the idea of building something that will lose money is bad business.  Construction costs have sky rocketed and will continue to do so; more money will be needed.

Do we really need this?

I think not.

Tanglewood already has indoor and outdoor venues to rent as does WinMock. Livestock and horse shows could be held at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, which remain virtually abandoned much of the year.

I encourage you to go to the commissioners meetings and share your concerns, you can speak at any meeting and you can email them.

Anne Gould,     Mocksville