April 5, 2011 3:36:00 PM
We''re in the throes of Spring Pilgrimage, the Super Bowl of sorts for the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau. The tourism bureau, which has been busy welcoming visitors for the past week, received a little welcome news of its own Monday: County supervisors gave their approval to the new CVB office behind the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center.
The Columbus City Council is expected to do the same tonight, clearing the way for the CVB to inhabit the new $750,000 space.
The sticking point was that $750,000 price tag. An earlier appraisal listed the space at a value of $600,000, causing supervisors to hold off on approving the expense, to get clarity of whether they could pay more for something than it''s worth. A second appraisal came in at $850,000, and supervisors OK''d the purchase with little discussion Monday.
The difference in the appraisals? The second one takes into account special features including special sound systems, flooring and other amenities, and the unique nature of the building itself, as an office/condominium development.
Still, that''s a lot of money for office space. It should last the CVB for decades, however, and is a welcome showplace for visitors to get a first impression of Columbus. With landscaping and other features planned, the block housing the new building and the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center will be transformed into a top-notch facility we can be proud of, that will enhance downtown''s transformation into a cluster of boutique shops and upper-level apartments.
With the issue of the building behind us, the CVB has more challenges ahead. A new state law will soon govern the CVB, which has a new board. The CVB is without a permanent director. The county, and city, have taken a renewed interest in the activities of the CVB, which had operated autonomously under an ignored, outdated ordinance for years.
Amid these changes, the board has the task of hiring a new director and reasserting the CVB''s independence. We believe that while the city and county need to provide oversight, the CVB should operate independently and without political interference.