County approves equestrian improvements at fairgrounds

One of the oldest and most-used areas of the Mesa County Fairgrounds will soon receive a renovation that county officials say will add updated amenities and could draw bigger events.

County commissioners on Monday agreed to spend a little more than $820,000 to give the equestrian facilities at the east end of the fairgrounds a face-lift highlighted by new animal stalls, a larger riding arena and a lighted parking area.

“It’s been a board priority to make sure we get these improvements done,” Commission Chairman Craig Meis said. “(They are) much needed.”

The improvements include:

A new 17,550-square-foot metal barn featuring 75 new animal stalls and upgraded electrical systems. The barn will replace six old stall barns, which   were recently torn down.

Extending the 225-foot covered riding arena by 40 feet. Twenty-five of those 40 feet will be cover for the riding area, with the remaining 15 feet serving as a canopy for shade.

Replacing the arena surface with a deeper and better mix of dirt and sand.

Creating a designated lighted parking area where users can unload animals directly into the stalls.

A new arena show office for show organizers and a designated vendor area with electrical hookups.

Fairgrounds Manager Marsha Kosteva said the roughly 10-acre equestrian area is used nearly every weekend between mid-March and the end of October for everything from horse, llama and dog shows to beef sales. But the structures in the area are roughly 40 years old and, county officials say, in need of replacement.

Pam Peterson, a member of the Grand Junction Horse Show Association’s board of directors and a Mesa County 4-H leader, credited Kosteva and other fairgrounds employees for pushing for the project. She said the county has created improvement plans for the fairgrounds in years past but never followed through on them, leaving users skeptical about whether anything would ever be done.

“These are much-needed improvements,” Peterson said. “I think it will certainly help attract larger venues there as well as enhance the ones there now.”

The county awarded the construction contract to Grand Junction-based Asset Engineering Ltd., which will begin work next week. The project is expected to be completed in the spring.

In other business, commissioners approved a $606,148 contract with MM Skyline Contracting of Grand Junction to complete the second phase of improvements to U.S. Highway 6 and First Street in Clifton. The first phase included the installation of new water lines and stormwater drains. The second phase will include the widening of U.S. 6 to add acceleration and deceleration lanes and installation of a traffic signal.


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