At the November meeting of the Swain County Board of Commissioners, county officials voted 3-1 to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Swain County Tourism Development Authority (TDA). The MOU establishes an agreement between Swain County and the TDA regarding the use of County property for the purpose of relocating the Southern Appalachian Fly Fishing Museum.
The museum will move from its current location at 210 Main Street to its new location at 117 Island Street, adjacent to the current location of the Appalachian Rivers Aquarium.
Because the rivers and streams in North Carolina’s mountains and foothills are among the most popular destinations for anglers, especially those who are into fly fishing, the museum is also a popular destination for anglers. Many anglers come to Bryson City each year to fish the delayed harvest section of the Tuckasegee River that runs through downtown, as well as other nearby streams.
The museum is full of exhibits and videos showing the profiles of the legendary “Stream Blazers”, the evolution of beginner fishing rods and reels, basic knots, fly tying, gear types, game fish types, fishing regional waters and the history of fly fishing in the Southeast. The museum will continue to house many fly fishing artifacts.
The museum also honors outstanding advocates of the sport of fly fishing in the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. Inaugural 2016 inductees include Jim Casada (Communications), Walter Cary (Crafts), Wanda Taylor (Recreation) and Phil Bracewell, Sr. (Conservation).
The Appalachian Rivers Aquarium is a small native species aquarium on the banks of the Tuckaseegee River in downtown Bryson City. While the exterior may look unassuming, within its small frame are more than 4,000 gallons of water, housing more than 15 different species of freshwater fish and more than 30 individuals.
The county will provide the labor needed to build the 1,800-square-foot building that will house the museum in exchange for tourism money from the sale of the Everett Street property. Construction is not expected to exceed $80,000 in profit from the sale of the property.
The TDA will provide all the necessary materials and equipment for the construction of the new museum structure. The TDA will have exclusive use and possession of the existing aquarium building and the new museum building. The County shall retain exclusive use and possession of the existing barn storage building in facilities to be used as the County deems necessary with free access.
TDA will provide builder’s liability insurance for the construction project. Upon completion of the building, TDA will be responsible for providing risk and liability insurance for all museum facilities, the aquarium, parking and all premises associated with the museum and aquarium, with the county named as the beneficiary of the loss. politics. Liability insurance must be at least one million dollars.
Once construction is complete, the TDA will cover the cost of the museum’s electricity, water, gas, sewerage, garbage collection and internet. In addition, the TDA will be responsible for repairing and maintaining the existing buildings and grounds of the aquarium and museum, including but not limited to the windows, roof, heating and ventilation system.
The agreement between the county and TDA is for 10 years with an additional 10-year option to extend the agreement. In the event that the aquarium and/or museum cannot operate, the TDA will have the option of using the buildings as another tourism-related function.
In other county and TDA business, TDA representative Shannon Lackey appeared before the board during the public comment period with other TDA business. Lackey asked the board for clarification on the ownership of the parking lot next to the Swain County Visitor Center and Heritage Museum. The TDA has charging points for electric vehicles (EV) in two parking spaces on the lot.
His concern before the board was the ownership of the property and whether or not the TDA should continue to invest money in parking and maintaining the electric vehicle (EV) charging stations if the property is not owned by the county.
Lackey said the TDA has spent more than $60,000 on the parking lot and still has additional utility costs. According to Lackey, the TDA is paying thousands of dollars in utilities and maintenance of the parking lot and charging stations each year.
Before the TDA moves forward with the parking restriction, signage and maintenance of charging stations, as well as the cost of meter maintenance in the parking lot, the group wanted to clarify ownership of the property.
The property is listed as owned by Community Services of Swain County, a non-profit organization. Since 2009, the county has leased the property and has a solid lease-purchase agreement with the entity. The county received a $350,000 North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant for the construction of the parking lot, a pavilion and the area adjacent to the lot, which would not have been possible without the county owner of the property in the future.
The board assured Lackey that the property will one day belong to the county and there is no way it will end up as someone else’s property. They stated that the TDA can continue to make improvements to the parking lot and maintain the two EV charging stations safely. The county will be done with the contract of sale of the property in 2041.
Ben Bushyhead, chairman of the Swain County Board of Commissioners, suggested that the TDA consider locating additional EV charging stations on other county properties. He suggested the courthouse, recreation park and administration building as other areas the TDA could install electric vehicle charging stations.