County shows off plan to revamp fairgrounds
Following countless meetings, numerous analyses and lots of public input about the Mesa County Fairgrounds, a phased plan for improvements at the 90-acre property on Orchard Mesa is coming into sharper focus with the release of a draft master plan.
The county divided the new potential roadmap for development into three parts, based on sections of the property. But it will be up to the public to help define any plan for specific improvements and phases.
The first phase of the plan identified by the county — described as “West End Development” — will set the stage for many of the other improvements, and includes new entry points and roads and irrigation, retention, and drainage improvements.
Park spaces get an upgrade in this proposed phase, with some reconfigurations and new horseshoe pits, restrooms and parking. The Little League fields and facilities get a freshening as well in the West End phase.
The current BMX track — home to Grand Valley BMX and that group’s year-round practice and racing — would receive a major upgrade in the county’s proposed West End development phase, which would take an estimated two to four years and $6.8 million to complete.
On the other side of the property, where many of the livestock and recently upgraded equestrian facilities are housed, more improvements are laid out for a proposed second phase, which could cost an estimated $7 million.
The East End plan includes adding two new 90- to 100-stall stables, as well as a new covered, open-air arena — larger than the current show arena. The aim is to draw larger horse and livestock shows to the fairgrounds. Today, equestrian users and the agricultural community book the fairgrounds solid between March and October, according to the county.
The final phase — clearly the most ambitious and expensive — includes plans for a 5,000-seat multi-use arena and a 30,000-square-foot exposition hall. Calling this the Central phase, the county projected no timeline and said it would not move forward until a new “funding/partnership strategy” for the $39 million phase is agreed on.
It’s important to note that the county is not married to the exact phasing detailed in the draft plan. While it is clear that the infrastructure plans proposed for the West End phase are critical to any future development plans, what specific improvements get prioritized after that will be largely up to the community.
“There is some room for flexibility at this point,” county spokeswoman Jessica Peterson said. “But now that we have specifics about different improvements and additions … it is an opportunity for people to tell us what they think of the timing, and what they think of the priorities.”
In terms of funding, the county has earmarked approximately $10 million in the capital plan just for fairgrounds improvements between 2013 and 2017. But future county commissioners could adjust the amount of capital for fairgrounds improvements as they see fit, Peterson said.
The Fairgrounds Master Plan is on an accelerated timeline. County staff hope to have the current board of commissioners at least consider a final plan by the end of the year.