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New county fairgrounds building is taking shape

This rendering by Plan One Architects shows what the front of a new multi-use facility might look like at the Park County Fairgrounds. The east-facing facility would sit in the place of an aging complex of exhibit halls. A final design is expected by the end of June, with construction starting after the fair. This rendering by Plan One Architects shows what the front of a new multi-use facility might look like at the Park County Fairgrounds. The east-facing facility would sit in the place of an aging complex of exhibit halls. A final design is expected by the end of June, with construction starting after the fair. Graphic courtesy Plan One Architects

Plans for a new multi-use facility at the Park County Fairgrounds are coming into a sharper focus.

The Park County Commission on Tuesday gave its stamp of approval to a preliminary vision for the $2.6 million building that was presented by Plan One Architects.

“I’m feeling pretty good about the whole thing — budget, scope, schedule,” Plan One’s Dan Odasz told commissioners.

The design is scheduled to be finished by the end of June, with bids from contractors sought in July and construction beginning soon after the 2014 fair.

The multi-use facility would replace an aging complex of exhibit halls, including one that had to be destroyed three years ago due to structural problems. The tentative floor plan centers around an 8,750-square-foot open space, with a commercial kitchen and bathrooms to the north and a dividable conference room area to the south.

The eastern front of the building would feature a partially covered patio that could host performances, with a main entrance on the southeast corner.

It’s designed to have the ability for expansion, particularly to the west. Possible add-ons listed as bid alternates would offer extra enclosed space on the west and northwest portions of the building.

Odasz recommended that the southern part of the complex with the meeting rooms be made a bid alternate to provide more budget flexibility. Commissioners, however, want it a part of the base bid.

“That’s a big deal,” Commission Chairman Bucky Hall said. At a discussion last week, commissioners noted meeting rooms were a high priority when the public was surveyed about its wants for the new facility.

“How can we say we’re not serious about having that part of the building?” Commissioner Loren Grosskopf had asked.

The commission spent some of Tuesday’s time discussing whether the facility should have a garage bay door on both the north and south sides of the facility to allow vehicles to pull through it or just the south, and whether to have a serving window from the kitchen to the outside.

Odasz predicted many firms will be interested in the job.

“The metal building bid in Wyoming is the most competitive bid you can get,” he said.

The new facility will sit in roughly the same spot as the more than 70-year-old complex of exhibit halls it will replace: the already-demolished large exhibit hall and the existing arts and crafts (small exhibit) and Clover halls.

The county plans to have its Road and Bridge Department handle the demolition of the existing buildings to save money.

Park County has committed $1.6 million to the facility, with the State Loan and Investment Board giving $500,000 and, in theory, the final $500,000 being raised by the Park County Fair Board from private donors.

The state board made its January grant contingent on the county raising that final $500,000 by May 31. Recognizing that four months wasn’t much time to raise that kind of money from the community, commissioners pledged to use county funds to at least temporarily cover whatever portion the fair board didn’t raise by the deadline.

However, commissioners are unhappy that fundraising efforts have yet to kick off. They sent a letter to the fair board last week saying they’re “seriously concerned” about the lack of progress; the commission demanded detailed, written answers to a number of questions about the fundraising effort by Friday.

The board planned to discuss its response to the commission’s letter at meetings on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

The tension between the fair officials and commissioners — which has included disagreement about the division of fairgrounds maintenance responsibilities between commission-directed and fair board-directed staffers — spilled over into Tuesday’s meeting on the new building. Commissioner Tim French became annoyed when Plan One’s Ron Yount referenced some design ideas he’d gotten from Fair Director Jennifer Lohrenz; French questioned when Yount had spoken with Lohrenz, saying, “I just want you to remember this is a group thing here.”

Plan One will meet with county officials again on May 7.

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2 comments

  • posted by clipstein

    May 02, 2014 9:15 am

    taxpayer whether local, state or feds. It is all our money wasted. but karma is in action and they don't seem to understand.. the sad part is the next thing is they will want to move the fairgrounds.

  • posted by Cowboy Crittic

    April 30, 2014 8:58 am

    Where does Powell keep getting all this Fiat currency?

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