Fairgrounds project launched

Thursday, June 2, 2022
Fairgrounds project launched

The new fairgrounds will most likely resemble this rendering. Image by A&E Architects

Years of talk have finally transitioned into action with the construction of a new fairground on county-owned property across I-90 is officially underway.

Last week, the Stillwater County Commission approved bids from Sowles Co. and B&C Steel for the construction and installation of a pre-engineered metal building for the new fairgrounds in the amount of $1.6 million.

The structure will be a 32,000 square-foot building — 12,000 square feet of which are open. That space is also being referred to as the livestock area and can be enclosed at anytime. The pavilion section will include restrooms, a meeting room and a catering kitchen.

“We are now in design development which starts getting in to more detail of the design including colors and finishes,” said County Economic Director Stephanie Ray, who is a lead team member in the project. “Next step is construction documents. The CD Site/ Foundation is on a fast track so we can let that bid in the fall and start on the site work in September of this year. Bidding and negotiation in the schedule is for just that – bidding the project for a three weeks, receiving and reviewing bids, recommendation, notice of award, contract negotiation. That all takes a bit of time.”

The total price tag on the new fairgrounds is $6.8 million, with the building and fairgrounds scheduled to ready to use in time for the 2023 Stillwater County Fair.

Aside from the fair, other events that could be held at the facility include farmer’s markets, community movie nights, summer concerts, car shows, tractor and trade shows, weddings and the Swap & Shop, said Ray.

THE MONEY

In April, plans for a Law & Justice Center were temporarily put on the backburner when Stillwater County Commissioners decided to go forward with a new fairgrounds due to funding and location.

Funding was important as the county realized that it had the money already to go forward with the fairgrounds project.

Specifically, Metal Mines money that comes from the Sibanye-Still water mining company can only be spent on certain things. One of those things is the “diversification and development of the economic base within the jurisdiction of a local government unit” or to “attract new industry to the impact area,” according to state law.

The new fairgrounds falls under those qualifying factors as the pavilion is rented out year-round for various functions by more then 200 different organizations and groups.

Available funds and the accounts in which they are located that can be used to pay the $6.8 million are as the following:

•Metal Mines: $3,102323.87

•PILT - $3,251,346.36

•ARPA - $868,597.00

•General Capital Account – $2.1 million

Hamilton told the News this week that the money will come from a variety of these accounts and that no one fund will be drained.

Additionally, the planned Law & Justice building, which was identified as a priority of Stillwater County residents in a survey, will be located at the current fairgrounds.

“We need to do that (the new fairgrounds) first because the public says the priority is that (pointing at Sheriff Chip Kem),” said Hamilton at a FCIP meeting in the spring.

Commissioners have reiterated that none of the money spent on the new fairgrounds will impact the future Law & Justice building.

The $6.8 million price tag on the new fairgrounds was whittled down from an initial $10 when the commissioners were hesitant to spend a greater sum due to the fact that the Law & Justice Building is still in the forefront.

MAKING THE DECISION

At the May 19 FCIP meeting held, the commissioners, both commissioner candidates and four of the FCIP Citizen Advisory Committee were asked to weigh in on a motion on whether to move forward with awarding the basic bid package for the fairgrounds project. All were in agreement to move forward. The one FCIP Citizen Advisory Committee member not in attendance was Brandon Garoutte. However, Commissioner Riveland announced that Garoutte was also in favor.