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September 19, 2013 7:46 am

Scaled-down fair building is disappointing, but necessary

Written by Ilene Olson

Although it’s disappointing, we understand and commend the Park County Commission’s decision to reduce its budget for a planned multi-use building at the Park County Fairgrounds.

Citing limited county funds and difficulties finding private grant money, commissioners last week pared $500,000 from the budget for the building, down from the previous estimate of $3.1 million to $2.6 million.

Commissioner Joe Tilden summed up the situation: “I’d love to get up to the $3 million mark, but realistically, I don’t think we can get up there right now.”

The new multi-use building will replace the old Large Exhibit Hall, which was demolished two years ago because of structural deficiencies, and the aging Arts & Crafts Building and Clover Hall.

While it would be nice to hold out for the larger budget — and a larger building — the fact is, the facility is needed now, and Wednesday was the deadline to apply for a state grant to help with the cost.

The budget reduction likely means the new facility would measure approximately 13,000 square feet — about the same amount of space as the buildings it will replace. That is less than half of the originally envisioned 29,000 square-foot community facility. Commissioners noted that more exact cost and square-footage estimates won’t be available until blueprints are drawn up.

While making the reduction, commissioners indicated the building’s design will allow for future expansion — a must, given the necessary downsizing now. We still support and eventually hope to see the facility become a true community center that can provide space for large events as well as fair exhibits and smaller-scale activities.

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