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Location picked for new fair building

Park County Commissioner Lee Livingston points to a conceptual floor plan for a new multi-use facility at the county fairgrounds during an April 1 meeting. Subject to some tweaking, county officials have chosen the spot shown for the new building. It’s basically on top of a complex of halls that have been or will be demolished. Park County Commissioner Lee Livingston points to a conceptual floor plan for a new multi-use facility at the county fairgrounds during an April 1 meeting. Subject to some tweaking, county officials have chosen the spot shown for the new building. It’s basically on top of a complex of halls that have been or will be demolished. Tribune photo CJ Baker

The best place for a new multi-use facility at the Park County Fairgrounds is right on top of the old exhibit halls it will replace, county officials decided last week.

The spot “gives you something right in the heart” of the grounds, Plan One Architects Vice President Dan Odasz told Park County commissioners, fair board members and staff on April 1.

A couple other locations had been seriously considered — including having the new facility run parallel to the fair office in the grassy area west of the office — but the consensus last week was to build roughly where the current complex of exhibit halls stands.

In addition to being familiar to fair visitors, the county will save the reclamation costs when the old exhibit halls are demolished, Odasz said, because the new building will be the reclamation.

“You’ve got almost a blighted area right in the middle of your campus,” he added of the area, noting a nearby concrete slab where the former fairgrounds manager’s residence stood. “And it’d be a shame to save that area for a future project — this is the project.”

The new $2.6 million, 12,800 square foot multi-use facility will replace the more than 70-year-old arts and crafts (small exhibit), Clover and large exhibit halls; the large hall had to be destroyed in 2011 because of structural problems.

A primary feature of the new building will be an open indoor space that could host larger events throughout the year. There’s been talk of having movable dividers that could split the room into smaller areas, but Odasz said that might be cost-prohibitive.

The rough concept discussed last week with Plan One and GDA Engineers included surrounding the open area with bathrooms and a commercial kitchen on the north side, meeting rooms to the south, a possible stage or storage area on the west side and a covered patio/main entrance to the east.

“It’s more like a building with four front doors, where four things are happening to it all the way around,” Odasz said of the concept.

One feature scrapped during last week’s discussion was the inclusion of showers for fairgrounds campers, as commissioners did not believe they were necessary.

A couple of the challenges mentioned last week will be finding temporary storage space (since the old halls will be demolished at the start of construction) and creating adequate parking space.

The commission plans to meet with Plan One again in a couple of weeks.

Construction is expected to start in August and reach substantial completion by May 2015.

The Park County Fair Board is looking for private donors to help fund the new facility. Anyone interested can contact the fair office at 754-5421.

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