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Commissioners need to make TIEC start giving back, not taking more

The following is an open letter to the Polk County commissioners.

North Carolina and our commissioners are giving much to the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The state is remodeling I-26 and Highway 74 to allow TIEC attendees to bypass the roundabout between Columbus and Tryon.

A new overpass/roundabout at the Pea Ridge Exit is under construction. Part of a local road has been abandoned for TIEC. Zoning has been generously changed.

I have been to council meetings where our leaders represent that the impact of the World Equestrian Games is not expected to affect our towns. They are not preparing for an influx of tourists. Our leaders are expecting that the participants will “stay on site” and not cause local problems.

In my opinion, our leaders are ignoring the unpleasant impacts of pre and post-world games.  Thousands of people are coming to this area expecting happy times. Those same people will go into our communities to seek adventure, vent their frustrations and assuage their disappointments.

I anticipate traffic problems, violence, drunk drivers, drugs and other criminal activities that come to town with such events.

Local law enforcement will be stressed. The new jail will be full. When the world games are over, there will be increased unemployment because jobs have disappeared. Motel rooms, restaurants and retail shops at TIEC will be empty due to the lack of business.    

It is my purpose to provoke a realistic assessment of local needs. Ongoing “negotiations” between county leaders and TIEC are occurring without our participation.

Three minutes of citizen comments before commission meetings is inadequate. Publishing information is critical long before decisions are made.

The needs of this community must be realistically addressed. TIEC needs to start giving back to our communities, not taking more. The upcoming November elections can be a referendum on how well our leaders respond to local needs.

Ira Karet, Tryon