Letter: Fiction based planning — once again
Nancy E. Shaver
St Augustine, FL
Yesterday evening, St Augustine City Manager, John Regan, told city commissioners that he is forming a team to create an overall transportation plan for St. Augustine using the experience they gained from handling thousands of incoming vehicles during the Mumford concert.
Apparently, the Tourist Development Council provided the Visitor Convention Bureau with information that 5.9 million tourists visited St Augustine — and supposedly ninety percent of them traveled to the city in a car.
It might be good to start with facts — there aren’t 6-million tourists who visit St Augustine City annually — that would be 16,000 a day. How likely is this when it took six months to plan for the 21,000 Mumford attendees?
This 6-million number is from an outdated and widely discredited projection which Richard Goldman of the TDC has acknowledged. Given the number of overnight accommodations and the occupancy rates, we have about 300,000 overnight visitors annually within the City limits and about 1,000,000 from Ponte Vedra Beach south; including all the 1-95 accommodations.
About 650,000 people visit the Castillo each year including the mandated 4th grader visits. Should we really believe that only 10% of visitors visit the Castillo? Or that there are five times as many day visitors as there are overnight tourists?
The City could use some simple math and common sense.
There is no point in a transportation plan (or any other plan) that starts with faulty assumptions. Let’s get some actual tourist numbers and start there; not just for this effort — but for all City initiatives.
And by the way, if we’re talking about transportation–maybe it would be wise to start with assessing the conditions of our 70 miles of streets which haven’t been formally examined since 2003. All the pretty transportation plans in the world won’t fix the sad state of our streets.
Once again, the City is focused on a “shiny new idea” using fuzzy information rather than delivering the core services government is tasked with.