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Bible Park USA picks Lebanon

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Dedman said the tourists attracted by the park will help the county and city hold the line on future tax increases.

"The tax burden will be shared by people who come to our community to visit the park, spend their money here, then leave and go back home," he said.

Fox said the financing of the park would be covered by additional taxes generated by the park.

"I want to emphasize that neither Wilson County, the City of Lebanon, the Industrial Development Board (IDB) nor the taxpayers in this community will be paying for the park," he said.

He also said the IDB will be asked to schedule a public hearing and review of economic impact on Thursday, Oct.9.

Then he said, "We will also present the entire incentive package, including the significant positive impact this park will have on our community, to the Lebanon/Wilson County Development Board on Oct. 2."

Fox did acknowledge the park isn’t exactly "a done deal" as it still has to be voted on by the Wilson County Commission and the Lebanon City Council, as well as the IDB. He said he thought those panels looked on the idea quite favorably.

The park will feature theme areas, such as a Galilean village and depictions of various Biblical events. There will also be "low-profile indoor rides," an amphitheater for concerts, a stage for plays and a high-tech recording studio and a teen area with a coffee house.

For younger children there are plans for a Noah’s Ark, an archaeology dig and plays featuring animal characters.

Wyatt said the story park should be open to the public in 2-1/2 to 3 years.

Financing, according to Fox, will come in part from investors and in part from bonds to be repaid by Tax Increment Financing (TIF).

He explained the plan as follows:

TIF uses increased taxes from an area surrounding the new development to repay the portion of the funding not covered by the private investors.

Essentially, this means if the value of property increases because of the new development, the city or county still receives all of the original tax amount, but the added tax goes to pay back the bond issue. And if the project fails for any reason, the taxing authority (the city or county) is NOT liable to finish paying off the bond. Instead the holders of the bond are responsible.

This article first appeared on Thursday afternoon.

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