Occoquan Tourist Information Center
The Occoquan Tourist Information Center is the small building across the street from Madigan's Restaurant in Occoquan. It has information on Virginia history, Prince William history, bus schedules, Virginia and Prince William attractions, area lodging and restaurants and local businesses along with many other things. More importantly, it is staffed by paid staff and volunteers that live here, know the area and give it that human touch. It also houses the only public restrooms in Occoquan.
The Center is funded by the Prince William/Manassas Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is in turn funded by an occupancy tax on hotel/motel rooms. The Bureau board of directors recently planned to eliminate funding for the center in favor of other priorities. The yearly cost for operations of the center is reputed to be around $42,000.00.
A July 20, 2015 board meeting of the Bureau drew over 65 people, some representing various organizations and elected officials, and all who spoke urged the board to keep the center open. The board has voted to establish a committee to make a recommendation to the board on the future of the center. Funding has been established to keep the center open through 2015.
Below is a letter to the CVB board from MIDCO:
July 18, 2015
Prince William/Manassas Convention and Visitors Bureau
Dear Board Members:
The Mid-County Civic Association has discussed the planned closing of the Occoquan Tourist Information Center and we support keeping the center permanently open. We urge you to reconsider the decision to close the center for two major reasons:
1. It appears that insufficient notice was given to officials, community representatives and the public before this decision was made. This is an issue that requires a level of transparency and inclusion that was not met.
2. It is unclear whether every effort has been made to keep this office open or if a cost/benefit analysis has been done to determine the benefit of the center and its central location in Occoquan. We feel every effort should be made to explore any method available to keep this center open and accessible from the eastern/central part of Prince William County. Both the Occoquan center and the Manassas center should incorporate material for all of PWC. We are one unified county and that fact should be reflected in our visitors centers.
Ideally, we would like to see a re-energized visitors center with an added emphasis on Prince William history to result from this effort. The Mill Museum provides Occoquan history, and the Tourist Information Center can be a portal to the history of eastern and central Prince William from Indian and Colonial times on, to include information on the Tayloe Plantation and forge, the Rochambeau Route, the Woodbridge Plantation, Bel Air, the Bacon Race Church and community, the Harry Diamond facility and Dumfries harbor just to name a few. This is a great opportunity to place all this information in both east and west centers and would really make folks passing through the area aware of how important Prince William County has been to the development of our country. With these changes, the centers also can also be great amenities for marketing our county for economic development purposes.
So again, please reconsider your decision and do what it takes to keep this important resource for the county open and functioning.
Second Letter To the CVB:
August 10, 2015
Prince William/Manassas Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB)
Dear board members,
MIDCO recently sent a letter regarding the Occoquan Tourist Information Center (OTIC) to the CVB board dated July 18, 2015, and spoke at Citizen’s Time at your July 20th board meeting. Just to reiterate, our position is that the OTIC should be kept open and continue to be considered a core program for the county. It is our understanding that the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) fully funded the CVB, dedicating the transient occupancy tax, which is an appropriate and advantageous funding source for the OTIC. Our further understanding is that there was no mention of an "alternative" use of these OTIC funds at recent BOCS meetings and if this is in fact under consideration the alternative use of funding should have been presented at a public hearing so the public and their representatives could understand and react to the funding situation.
Since our last letter we have reviewed your correspondence regarding the formulation of a task force and its proposed membership, and we would like to see the proposed make up of this task force expanded to include three additional citizen members from the greater Prince William County community (mid county, west end, etc.). As we have said and as you heard from most of the speakers at your July board meeting, this center should promote all of Prince William County and for that reason all of PWC needs to be represented on the task force.
Finally, with the above and the other suggestions referenced in our previous letter in mind, we strongly suggest that in the future you promote this center and refer to it as The Prince William County Tourist Center at Occoquan.
Thank you for your consideration of these suggestions and we look forward to continuing to work with you on this issue.