Pinehurst “dollars”: Stimulus was bad idea for the feds, and is just as bad on the local level

vop logoThe Village of Pinehurst is preparing for the PR and economic boon that is expected from hosting two of pro golf’s premier events — The 2014 Men’s and Women’s U.S. Opens.

The USGA is giving the village $700,000 to cover the costs associated with hosting these two major events.  Village government estimates that its actual costs should be more in the range of $100,000.  So, that gives local pols and bureaucrats a chance to ponder what to do with the remaining $600,000. Sounds like trouble waiting to happen, huh?

Village councilman Doug Lapins thinks he has the answer.  He is proposing that the village government issue each and every household  “Pinehurst dollars” — equal to $50 that can only be redeemed at local businesses.

Others on the council are arguing that the money should instead be spent on capital projects — like the proposed downtown parking garage and restrooms — that had to be cut from the curren budget due to a lack of funding.  Others are promoting the idea of a bandstand /stage for outdoor events at various park sites in the  village.   Another proposal is for the village to allocate the money to The Given Library — the private downtown institution currently raising money for a major expansion.

We are normally in agreement with Lapins.  But he’s way out in left field on this one.  Downtown Pinehurst consists primarily of bars, restaurants, realtor offices, law offices, banks, and niche  trinket / souvenir shops targeting tourists.  Most locals I know tend to only visit downtown to dine out or to grab a drink at one of the bars.  Those Pinehurst dollars will provide a brief windfall — for a few days — for downtown bars and restaurants.

Why not spend the $600,000 on something that provides long-term benefits for the residents of Pinehurst?  The community swimming pool has been shut down because there is no money to bring it up to state code.  The proposed parking structure could do wonders to alleviate the parking nightmare in the downtown area. Contributing to the Given Library expansion could help produce long-term benefits for the community.

The idea of Pinehurst dollars looks more like a thinly-veiled attempt to “buy” votes than a serious economic development proposal.  Hopefully, the council will toss that idea and look at something a little more long-term and practical.