Garfield County commissioners cool to moving fairgrounds |

Garfield County commissioners cool to moving fairgrounds

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County does not appear immediately inclined to partner with a local real estate company to proceed with its proposed relocation of the county fairgrounds in Rifle.

“Maybe some day the fairgrounds will leave the present location, but I don’t think that time is now … the times are just too uncertain,” Commissioner Mike Samson said at Monday’s Garfield County commissioners meeting.

While Commissioner John Martin was opposed to the idea after an initial presentation on May 18, Samson and Commissioner Tresi Houpt had at least left the door open on the proposal put forth by the Fleisher Co. to sell off the current fairgrounds site on Railroad Avenue and relocate the facility.

The only alternative site mentioned was the 53-acre Gentry ranch on the Rifle Bypass west of town, for which Fleisher happens to be the seller’s representative.

At the previous meeting, Houpt and Samson asked for more information before making a decision. But a $70,000 price tag and a proposal that Fleisher act as the project manager to move the proposal forward seemed a bit too risky for both commissioners.

“I would be very hesitant to do a single-source contract on something like this,” Houpt said, preferring that if the county did proceed that it seek competitive bids to do the work.

Fleisher has already spent about $75,000, working with Garfield County and Rifle city officials on the feasibility of relocating the fairgrounds. The second phase of the project, for which county funding was sought, would involve preparing a financial feasibility report, architectural design and renderings, and development management.

At the previous meeting, Fleisher representatives acknowledged that the Gentry ranch is currently on the market for $3.5 million, but that it is just one of several possible relocation sites for the fairgrounds that would be considered.

Fleisher Co. has been working on the proposal for about two years, said project manager Frank McSwain Jr. at the May 18 meeting.

“The residents of Garfield County deserve something better than what we have today,” he said, maintaining that the 17-acre existing fairgrounds site is inadequate to serve the future needs of the county.

A new facility on a larger site with modern amenities would create new jobs and generate more tourism, he also suggested.

According to the proposal, four different options call for construction of facilities costing anywhere between $16.7 million and $31.5 million. That cost would be offset by the sale of the existing fairgrounds for around $9 million, according to Fleisher’s proposal.

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160

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