Not your father's authority, AOAA board can work
Tuesday's inaugural meeting of the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) Authority marked a historic moment in development of the off-highway vehicle park.
The project has been several years in the making, and we're pleased to see it off and running toward formal operation with this new entity in charge.
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The five authority members have a challenge ahead, for sure. It's one thing to serve on a government authority, in which members study the issues, show up for meetings and cast their votes. The AOAA board, rather than simply governing, is charged with launching the official opening of the facility, which in and of itself involves a multitude of duties - hirings, security, promotion, budgets, infrastructure and more. And it has to do so with limited funds, a promise by county leadership rightly in place that no taxpayer money be directly used toward the park's development.
Board members also must address ongoing debate about where and how much hunting will be permitted on the 6,500 acres.
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We believe the authority can meet these challenges, however, because this is not your typical authority. Consider:
- Most authorities have appointed representatives who don't necessarily have any expertise in the subject matter. Not so in this case, as James Backes, Dave Crowl, Pat Mack, Michael Schwartz and Barry Yorwarth all have a mixture of business and outdoor recreation industry experience that should serve the authority well.
- Not to suggest members of other authorities aren't committed, but AOAA members no doubt view their charge as "personal." These are not random appointments to fill seats; these men were hand-picked.
- And, more than anything, AOAA board members realize they are at the helm of a project that, if successful, can improve the local economy and serve as a springboard for further growth, while also cleaning up mountainous land that has been abused for decades. The desire to help their fellow local citizens should certainly be a driving force.
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Attendance at events held last year indicate there is interest in the AOAA from a broad geographic clientele. We wish the new board best of luck in making the most of that interest, while keeping the concerns of local residents and taxpayers front-of-mind.