At their Tuesday meeting, commissioners said razing the large exhibit hall would not jeopardize the fair’s opening or slate of activities.
The commission plans to meet with the county fair board at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, at the fairgrounds’ multipurpose room to discuss the exhibit hall’s fate and future plans.
One of the big issues will be determining how to pay for a new building, as it’s a given that “something’s going to have to be done,” said Commission Chairman Bucky Hall.
Commissioner Dave Burke said the county also will need to figure out if the current location is the best place for a new multi-purpose building, and what a new building should be like.
In a later interview, Burke noted the building is well used. In addition to holding many exhibits during fair week, it also hosts many public events throughout the year, including serving as a polling place for many Powell precincts.
“We realize that the Park County Fairgrounds, the buildings and everything that goes on there is important to a large part of the residents of Park County,” said Burke.
Engineer Russell Taylor of Prospector Engineering Services in Powell inspected the building Jan. 20 and 21.
The exhibit hall’s roof is sagging, and Taylor observed three trusses that apparently failed and are cracked through.
He reported the eastern wall of the building was out of plumb by about six inches near the failed trusses and showed apparent damage from being hit by vehicles.
Taylor’s report advised the county to close the building — which it did — at least until a more thorough inspection could be performed.
“A sudden wind event could cause a full catastrophic failure of the roof system,” he wrote.
Taylor also said he feared the expense of further inspection might be “a case a pouring good money after bad,” wondering “how far chasing the repairs is going to lead.”
Taylor said he suspected it would be better to simply demolish the building and construct a replacement. He noted the large exhibit hall, the attached small exhibit hall and the nearby arts and crafts building originally were built during World War II as barracks for Heart Mountain Relocation Center internees.
“Considering the (large exhibit hall) building is near 70 years old and having been relocated at least once, it has really performed admirably well,” Taylor wrote, adding he believes it has “reached the age of retirement.”
The small exhibit hall and the arts and crafts building, while having sags in their roofs, did not appear to have any framing failures threatening safety, he said.
“While I do not think they necessitate any immediate replacement plans, they should be on the agenda for replacement in the near future,” Taylor wrote.