County judge offers perspective on building local recreation opportunities

Nelson County Judge-Executive

Thursday, July 20, 2023 — A constant question and concern for our citizens is that there are no activities for our kids and families. I agree 100 percent.


There are generations of Nelson Countians who experienced and made memories at the skating rink and bowling alley while many teenagers of our county would meet up at the movie theatre. Fast forward, the bowling alley is now another fitness gym, the skating rink is a daycare, and the movie theatre is a church. The local swimming pool can only be opened a few months of the year and Dean Watts Park is primarily for team sports. This leaves the options of activities of our Nelson County children somewhat slim.

Like all businesses, the costs increased annually for years with building repairs, taxes, insurance, utilities, and employees. At the same time, employees were becoming more and more difficult to find. As a business owner, I understand their struggles and I also understand why some businesses choose not to continue a financially losing battle.

Whiles plans are being made for youth activities here in Nelson County by several different organizations, these will not be easy or inexpensive projects. To entice a private individual to invest in a business like a skating rink, there must be a business plan to financially support not only the day-to-day operation but also the capital investment.

For a government entity to be involved in any project, there is a mountain of paperwork, red tape, and research completed to confirm that a business, like a bowling alley, would have the community support needed to sustain the ongoing investment. In addition, there are very specific rules on how government/tax money can be spent. I also will not have government tax dollars competing against the private sector. Unfortunately, Nelson County does not have a population large enough to support privately funded investments like the ones mentioned above by themselves. We must be creative, look outside the box, and find other methods to provide activities for our children and families.

Nelson County is fortunate to have large companies and entrepreneurs who I hope will see the viability of assisting our citizens with these projects. I plan for local government departments like Tourism, the Chamber of Commerce, and Economic Development to use the same resources and support that they are using for the bourbon industry to support other investors in Nelson County — especially the ones that will benefit our children and families.

Recreational tourism is an untapped resource for our community. We must work together to have accommodations for traveling sports teams. The potential revenue that a community receives from traveling teams would help generate the money needed for our community to build and expand our own family recreational options. In addition to funding activities for our own children, recreational tourism will also allow the local hotels and restaurants to be filled, more shopping in our stores, and our other businesses to grow and thrive.

To plan for our future, Nelson Fiscal Court approved a newly formed Parks and Recreation Committee to start the planning process of expanding Dean Watts Park to boost recreational tourism and family activities. I look forward to working with this new committee as well as Tourism, the Chamber, and Economic Development to develop solutions to the hurdles that will undoubtedly surface. We will continue to work to cross these hurdles so that our children can and will have recreational activities.


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