continued Merlino said the purchase of the building could be bankrolled by a loan paid back over 10 to 15 years by county Occupancy Tax proceeds.
He also said that moving the tourism staff into a visitors center would boost the county’s self-promotion, as they were brimming with enthusiasm and knowledge of the area.
“It’s an outstanding location, and we have knowledgeable staff that knows this county backwards and upside-down,” he said. “To have such a free-standing information center in the middle of the Million-Dollar Half-Mile is priceless.”
The aim is not just to tout Warren County’s attractions. Relocating the tourism staff would also allow the county courts to expand into the Tourism Department’s existing space in the county center, officials said. For years, the court system has been cramped and more space has been sought for its operations — particularly the family court. Building an addition onto the municipal center would cost millions of dollars, an expense largely avoided by the relocation of the tourism department.
Last week, top county officials toured the Lickits building and examined the premises to determine the renovations needed.
But the concept is not without its detractors.
Glens Falls Ward 3 Supervisor Bud Taylor blasted the concept at a Tourism Committee meeting this week.
He claimed that a full-fledged tourism information center was virtually useless, as travelers planned their trip in advance via the Internet.
“This is not 1955,” he said. “Travelers don’t drive around looking for vacancy signs.”
But Merlino countered that while all travelers might not be looking for an immediate destination, many would be enticed by a visit to the tourism information center to return and enjoy various local attractions and venues on a future trip. Merlino disputed Taylor’s assertions, noting how popular the existing temporary information kiosk.
Taylor continued, citing the cost of ongoing maintenance to the building as a burden to taxpayers, and that removing a valuable property from the tax roll would represent ongoing lost revenue.