To the Editor:
The June 26 edition of the Daily Freeman Journal reported that the Hotel Motel Tax Board reduced funding for one of the applicants because the applicants advertising encouraged visitors to stay in the cabins in Briggs Woods Park and not hotels and motels where the tax is generated. In fact, all of the cabins in the Hamilton County Conservation Board system, including the Briggs Woods cabins pay hotel/motel tax. All HCCB cabins are required to meet all regulations for hotels and motels in the state, and are inspected accordingly.
It was also reported that Hotel/Motel Board chastised the applicant because the participants of their programs were encouraged to eat at the Briggs Woods Golf Course rather than the within the city limits restaurants. A review of the information has shown that recommendations for cabin stays or dining have not discriminated against Webster City establishments. The question becomes, why would the Hotel/Motel Tax Board want to discriminate against a local long-standing part of the community?
Briggs Woods Park established in 1919 as the first county park in Iowa and has been managed by the Hamilton County Conservation Board since 1956. Since establishment of the park, a lake has been constructed, a top flight golf course installed, a new campground completed, a paved bike trail built with support of the City of Webster City has been completed, and new cabins have been built all of which contribute to the local economy, including Webster City's economy.
A study completed by Iowa State University Center of Agriculture of Rural Development Study (CARD) indicates, of the $21 million economic impact dollars generated in Hamilton County, the Hamilton County Conservation Board is responsible for $7.5 million. This amount does not include the Briggs Woods Golf Course. Briggs Woods Park brings in over 276,500 visitors per year (excluding the golf course). The camper units that stay in the campground exceed 1,500 units per year. Of these; 58 percent of these campers are from out of county and out of state. In addition, in 2013 alone, the spring golf packages offered by Briggs Woods Golf Course brought in over $91,600 to this area. Of this, over $16,000 was spent on hotels and over $37,000 was spent in Webster City.
Hamilton County and Webster City are at a cross roads where art and environmental learning, along with recreation and tourism, have an opportunity to become a viable part of our local economy. No one entity can make this vision into a reality on its own and to be successful we need to be inclusive and work together and not discriminate over what happens only within the city limits.
Conservation Board Members