Future of fairgrounds to be discussed

The Mesa County Fairgrounds has an annual calendar that includes more than 400 activities each year, meaning a lot of people have a lot at stake in any future changes at the 93-acre property on Orchard Mesa.

Fairgrounds officials and consultants have been meeting with key stakeholders behind the scenes in advance of an effort to come up with a new master plan for the fairgrounds. That master planning will happen later this fall, but a business analysis — a key component to the process — is being finalized and presented to the community at an open house Wednesday.

The county hopes people will come out to hear the specifics of the business analysis of the property, which will include key recommendations for future development of the fairgrounds.

“It will give people a sense of what the business analysis showed, as far as what would be the most likely options to be successful financially in the community,” said county spokeswoman Jessica Peterson. She estimated consultants and county staff have been in touch with more than 150 people from at least 25 different special-interest groups in compiling the analysis.

The open house to present a draft version of the analysis will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the fairgrounds, 2785 U.S. Highway 50.

The county promises additional opportunities for community input beyond the open house.

The planned Fairgrounds Master Plan is likely to be a key milestone in the long history of the property. If the community is vocal in its support for adding new and expensive amenities or facilities at the fairgrounds, important issues about funding and the general business model of the fairgrounds could also be addressed in the new plan. Peterson even mentioned the possibility of a partnership with a private-sector entity, if the demand was there for expansion.

“Our current county commissioners would very much like to see them bring in more revenues from users, I think, so that there isn’t as much of a subsidy from the county,” Peterson said.

“I think the next board of commissioners will probably be looking very closely at the community input and the business analysis … and all the different aspects of what we want the fairgrounds to be looking, forward as a community,” she said.

The board will have two new county commissioners after the November election, replacing term-limited commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland.


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