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What about religion, politics, taxes, Kalahari? SOMEBODY PAYS FOR THAT LUNCH page 3
An election year and a water park make this the right time to question everything

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Date published: 1/20/2008

By Richard Amrhine


So is the Kalahari fanfare warranted? It's certainly a savior for the Silver Cos.' plans for Celebrate Virginia, and for the City Council, which has been debating whether to prop up the client-starved Expo and Convention Center, which needs a high-profile attraction nearby.

With Kalahari years away from a ribbon-cutting, and new convention space a part of its complex, what does the future hold for the expo center?

Given all the hotel rooms that have sprung up around the expo center, you get an idea of the sort of jobs the Celebrate Virginia development boom is providing. Even with nice tips, changing bed linens can't compete with the jobs that draw people north everyday. The dozens of "executive" jobs Kalahari has promised, based on its other operations, will be filled in a heartbeat. It's the hundreds of service jobs that will be hard to fill, and those who do take them will clog the roads and pollute the air because they don't make enough to live in the Fredericksburg area.

Maybe there are worse ventures than a water park complex, but the long-term value of the return on city taxpayers' investment is debatable. A viable and realistic alternative? New industries whose jobs pay wages that make living here affordable.

Richard Amrhine is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.

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