County supervisors gave a unanimous thumbs-down this morning to Maharishi Vedic City’s request for help getting state money for a new visitors’ center and improvements to an astronomical observatory.
Vedic City is applying for a $132,000 grant from the Community Attractions and Tourism fund, part of the state’s Vision Iowa program. Vision Iowa officials told Vedic City they first had to get financial support from the board of supervisors.
– Is TM a religion?
City officials offered to give the county $3,000 which supervisors could then pass on as the county’s contribution, a strategy which C.A.T. committee chairman Gregg Connell said “does somewhat circumvent the process” but has been done before.
Several county residents showed up at the courthouse this morning to voice their opposition to county support for the project, while Luci Ismert, executive director of the Fairfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, urged supervisors to give it their backing.
“Vedic City is our neighbor,” Ismert said, adding that the CVB’s tourism efforts involve not just Fairfield but also other area communities like Vedic City and the Villages of Van Buren.
“We’re all one tourism region,” she said.
Chris Johnson, a Vedic City council member, said the observatory and visitors’ center project is “one significant component of an opportunity to really improve the economy here.” He said the phone calls Vedic City gets about the observatory come from all over the region, and not just from “itinerant Transcendental Meditation people.”
But supervisors cited a number of concerns about the project, including past instances of Vedic City being less than cooperative with the county.
“We have had a history of things not being completed or followed through in timely manners,” said supervisor Dick Reed.