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Veterans Wall Update: Cost Overrun 10X | CVB Brings Back Gateway Markers

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On the Agenda for Monday night, JC CVB Brings Back Gateway Markers. Here is the agenda memo. They want to spend $40K for community involvement and design. No total cost was budgeted to actually erect the Gateway Markers. 

This was previously on the February 11th agenda. A study was cited, of experts who visited Johns Creek for 3 days as a “reconnaissance team”. This “team mystery shopped a sampling of attractions, hotels, restaurants..”

In essence, these 2 “experts” were paid per mile to drive from North Carolina for 2 nights in Johns Creek and determined Gateway markers are what we need.  CVB paid $3989.23 in total for this “Destination Assessment”.

It is because of the recommendations of these experts, CVB Brings Back Gateway Markers, to spend money as a “Tourism product”.  

Reconnaissance team & mystery Shoppers
CCVB Destination Assessment
mystery Shoppers
Looking for Gateway Signage

What is the JC CVB?

According to 2019 Tourism Product Development Grant document on their website:

The Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau (JC CVB) Tourism Product Development Grant exists to assist Tourism partners in developing new Tourism products and experiences that will attract new overnight visitors to Johns Creek, Georgia. Te JCCVB is the official Destination Marketing Organization of Johns Creek, Georgia. Our mission is to serve as an economic catalyst by marketing the City as a destination for business and leisure travelers. Increased overnight stays increase visitor spending and positive economic impact in Johns Creek.

The CVB has MONEY to giveaway. You can apply for grants of up to $5K, to bring tourism to Johns Creek!  The City Council has spent many meetings discussing the CVB and spending the funds generated from the hotel/motel tax. Is bringing Tourism to Johns Creek a priority for you?

 Having a CVB is not compulsory for Johns Creek, according to Assistant City Manager Mrs. Greer. City Council can vote to terminate the CVB & hotel/motel tax.

The crux of the issues and frustration with the residents is the lack of knowledge, transparency, and communication with the JC CVB. 

No one knows who is on the JC CVB Board, what is on the agenda, when the meetings are or where the meetings are.  There is absolutely no information about the above on the JC CVB website or the City website.

 

Cloak-of-Secrecy

Is the Johns Creek CVB Compliant with the Law?

Why is the CVB Board members, agenda, work and activity hidden from the public?

According to the Georgia Sunshine Laws: the meeting agendas should be made public and on their website.

sun[Every agency subject to this chapter shall prescribe the time, place, and dates of regular meetings of the agency. Such information shall be available to the general public and a notice containing such information shall be posted at least one week in advance and maintained in a conspicuous place available to the public at the regular place of an agency or committee meeting subject to this chapter as well as on the agency’s website…] page 29

According to the City Council Work Session Agenda Report on the Gateway Markers, Communication Director attended a “special called JCCVB meeting on March 20th”. Where was the public notice for that meeting? 

These scenarios are also clarified in the Georgia Sunshine Laws:

[Special or emergency meetings that are not held at the regularly posted time and place require more rigorous notice procedures. Such notice includes the posting at least 24 hours in advance at the regular meeting place and oral notification to the newspaper which serves as the legal organ for the county. ] pages 9-10

Johns Creek's Role

City Clerk announces when CVB meetings will take place at City Council meetings. It’s been stated that they are at times in the City Council Chambers. Why aren’t the CVB meeting agendas on City website and Video Recorded & Streamed?

 According to the City Of Johns Creek website,  [Public notices inform citizens of government or government-related activities that affect their everyday lives. State and federal laws require that information about government activities must be accessible in order for the electorate to make well-informed decisions. For citizens who want to know more about government activities, public notices in newspapers provide this sort of accessibility. The City of Johns Creek publishes its public notices in the Johns Creek Herald, a weekly print newspaper and the City’s approved legal organ. They are also published online in the Herald’s listing of Legal Ads]

 The CVB Agendas and meeting notices are NOT in the Legal Ads of the Johns Creek Herald or on City Website. Why? Who is responsible for this? 

We don’t know, the board members are not listed on the JC CVB or City websites. 

Vietnam Veterans Wall that Heals: Update

Wall that heals

The most successful City event in recent history was the Wall that Heals. The three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. was on display at Newtown Park. According to the Johns Creek Chamber, the Vietnam Veterans Wall event was visited by ~ 8,500 people in 4 days.

City Council bought (put a bid on the) the wall for $40K. Former Councilwoman Davenport donated an additional $40K to ensure Johns Creek won the bid. At the last City Council meeting, Staff disclosed NEW INFORMATION that it will cost a total of $400K, in the end, to have the Wall, delivered, installed and the project completed. This is an ASTOUNDING 10X over the original cost when the initiative was on the agenda that the Council voted on.

According to Councilman Lenny Zaprowski, at the 3/11/19, the Wall that Heals is currently sitting in storage. Because of the unforeseen costs, Leadership Johns Creek Class of 2019 and the Johns Creek Veterans Association launched a fundraiser for $75K. This fund will go towards the installation in Newtown Park. No plan or funds has been presented for the remaining $245K that are needed.

In the CVB agenda Memo, there was no mention of the Wall that Heals. The Board is fixated on bringing “Gateway Markers” to State Bridge Rd. The CVB board also reiterated they prefer to hire “Urban Catalyst” for the Gateway Markers.

Do you think tourists will come to Johns Creek see a study of community involvement on “Gateway Markers”? 

Vietnam Veterans First?

Much of the divide and soreness in history is how the Veterans were treated upon their return from War. The Wall that Heals brings closure to many people who live through that generation.

Equally important, is for the younger generations to learn the sacrifices of those that have become before them.

Maybe the focus shouldn’t be what brings tourists to Johns Creek.

What about, what can bring Johns Creek together?

Donate to the Wall that Heals Go Fund  

Donations of more than $500 are to be coordinated with Abbe Poline.  abbe.poline@renasant.com

Source: Photo, Henry County, IN; Cartoon-Jeff Parker; City of Johns Creek; & Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce


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9 thoughts on “Veterans Wall Update: Cost Overrun 10X | CVB Brings Back Gateway Markers”

  1. Carl E Chapman, Sr.

    Once again, an enlightening article regarding JC city government. It goes without saying that there are some fiscally irresponsible people in charge in Johns Creek.

  2. Heidi Eveleigh

    Johns Creek is not now, nor will it ever be a tourist destination, it’s ridiculous to think otherwise! It’s a diverse, thriving suburban community , why can’t the city council be satisfied with that and stop trying to turn it into something it’s not? The wall is a far more important use of resources, this mayor and city council are focusing on the wrong things!

  3. The Vietnam wall is sitting in storage? What kind of crap is that ???????? Tell the Czar and his cronies to dip into their pockets!!!! SHAMELESS!!!! JC a tourist Mecca????? For what???? Oh! Traffic, those stupid white spikes sticking out on the road! Stupid roundabouts that are going to cause accidents!!!! Crime and arrests are mounting everyday. After 15 years I flew out of JC!!! It was beautiful at one time. Until, well we know who’s the cause.

  4. Ha! Tourist destination?! What’s here to see? Lots of traffic, empty strip malls, torn down trees & construction of 55+ communities??!!

  5. What IDIOTS!
    First of all who wants to come to JC to visit?
    And yes, lets get our traffic snarled up further in order to fill the hotels in JC.
    Stupid!

  6. Thank you for the article. We appreciate you highlighting some of the recent efforts of the Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau. My name is Shelby Marzen, and I currently serve at the Executive Director of the JCCVB. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at smarzen@johnscreekcvb.com.

    Just wanted to share a few facts that are contrary to some of the items stated in your article:

    Destination Assessment

    JCCVB hired Randal Travel Marketing in March of 2018 to conduct a Destination Assessment for Johns Creek, Georgia to evaluate current status of tourism and determine best options to support the tourism industry in Johns Creek. This study not only analyzed the visitors that are currently coming to Johns Creek, but also identified opportunities to grow our efforts and allow us to better fulfill our mission: to serve as an economic catalyst by marketing the City as a destination for business and leisure travelers. 

    Judy L. Randall, owner of Randall Travel Marketing, is a travel industry expert and 25-year veteran of tourism research and marketing. Judy has conducted over 200 workshops and worked with more than 150 tourism destinations all over the U.S. and internationally. Judy (along with colleague Dr. Larry Gustke) has authored the annual “Top Ten Trends in Travel and Tourism” for the past 10 years. She has presented at numerous national and international tourism conferences and at over 35 statewide tourism conferences in the U.S.

    The Destination Assessment assisted Johns Creek in identifying our current visitors:
    50% Business travelers
    15% Sports
    10% Conference/Meetings
    10% VFR (Visiting family and relatives)
    10% Weddings/events
    5% Other (Extended stay, passing thru, etc.)

    Without a solid understanding of who is already traveling to Johns Creek and opportunities for growth, our organization could not responsibly steward the hotel/motel funds we receive to market our city. The data from this study assisted the JCCVB Board to create a strategic operating and marketing plan for the organization.

    Tourism Product Development Grant

    A Tourism grant is not uncommon among other CVB’s in the region, and has had great success in other cities, including Athens, GA; Augusta, GA; and Gwinnett CVB. JCCVB’s grant is a unique opportunity we are excited to offer our partners to assist them to enhance or add new tourism product. For example, we recently partnered with Autrey Mill Nature Preserve to use this grant money invest in marketing materials to attract business and special events to their attraction.

    JCCVB Board Meeting Information

    JCCVB Board meetings are held monthly and open to the public. All JCCVB Board meetings are posted to the City’s calendar. In addition, all of this information is available upon request, and our contact information is easily accessible on our “Contact Us” page on our website, johnscreekcvb.com.

    The Wall that Heals

    While the City of Johns Creek put the bid in for the wall, the $80K purchase was made possible by $40K from the JCCVB and $40K through a generous donation from local residents John and Cori Davenport. (For more information, please see this official press release from the City of Johns Creek here: https://www.johnscreekga.gov/newsandevents/news-archive/2018-news/city-awarded-recently-retired-vietnam-veterans-mem). In addition, the City Council and JCCVB agreed to allocate an additional $25K to support the memorial’s installation through Tourism Product Development Funds at the December 10th, 2018 City Council Meeting.

    Tourism in Johns Creek

    To summarize, we are honored to serve as the official Destination Marketing Organization for the City of Johns Creek. Our Board of Directors is comprised fully of volunteers who work or live in Johns Creek and have expertise in hospitality, arts, marketing and business.

    We are funded through the City’s 7% Lodging Tax on each overnight stay in Johns Creek hotels. This tax is not collected from residents, but only from those stying overnight in hotels within the City limits. The tax collected in Johns Creek is split three ways:
    28.56% – City of Johns Creek General Fund
    32.14% – JCCVB (marketing & general operations of the CVB)
    39.30% – Tourism Product Development Funds

    Our organization connects Johns Creek to GA’s Tourism Industry:
    -Tourism is the Georgia’s 5th largest Industry.*
    -In 2017, GA Tourism supported 460,000 jobs & generated $63.1 billion dollars in direct and indirect spending.*
    -In 2017, visitor spending generated $3.3 billion dollars in state and local taxes; in other words each household in GA would need to be taxed an additional $900 per year to replace the Tourism taxes received by state and local governments.*
    *Source: U.S. Travel Association, and Tourism Economics. 2017.
    -In Johns Creek alone, Tourism generates approximately $40 million annually in our community through lodging, food and beverage, shopping, transportation and recreation expenditures. This is not just overnight travelers, but visitors who are visiting for the day, driving through and those visiting family and friends.

    Tourism not only supports the growth and wealth of our state economy, but visitor spending also supports a higher quality of life and amenities in our state and our communities.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

    Thank you,
    Shelby Marzen, JCCVB Executive Director
    smarzen@johnscreekcvb.com

    1. As we replied on Facebook: Thank you for your comment. Per Georgia Law, specifically the Sunshine Law, the meeting notices are to be public on the CVB website. That is transparency. It is really unfortunate that I am explaining this to a government agency.

  7. Thank you for the article. We appreciate you highlighting some of the recent efforts of the Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau. My name is Shelby Marzen, and I currently serve at the Executive Director of the JCCVB. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at smarzen@johnscreekcvb.com.

    Please see our comments on your Facebook post that share a few facts that are contrary to some of the items stated in your article. Link here: https://www.facebook.com/JohnsCreekPost/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

    Tourism not only supports the growth and wealth of our state economy, but visitor spending also supports a higher quality of life and amenities in our state and our communities.

    We are sure you are aware, but for more information on the purpose of our organization, we encourage you to reference Georgia laws, codified in Title 48, Chapter 13, Article 3 Excise Tax on Rooms, Lodging and Accommodations. We have provided the link here for your reference: https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-48/chapter-13/article-3/

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

    Thank you,
    Shelby Marzen, JCCVB Executive Director
    smarzen@johnscreekcvb.com

  8. Carl E Chapman, Sr.

    Shelby, the mission of the JCCVB is flawed. How does a city organization benefit the citizens of said city by touting that ‘tourism’ is important to the state? Johns Creek is not a ‘destination’ for travelers because of something that the JCCVB has done or ever will do.

    We are all aware that the bureau spends money that it obtains through Hotel & Lodging tax. What no one has provided us with is the return on that spend. Your actions should be results driven. Please provide us with specific positive results that can be attributed to direct actions taken by the bureau.

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