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Garfield County deserves an upgraded fairgrounds

Guest CommentaryCameron WilcoxGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

It was a great summer for Garfield County and the city of Rifle. The months were full of fun events and family activities. Thank you to all involved: Garfield County; city of Rifle; volunteers; and the many organizations that helped bring the variety of attractions to our community.A great part of our community is the various mix in our demographics. We are fortunate to have such a diverse make-up of citizens with a wide range of interests. This was evident over the summer as all events seemed to have good turnouts and lively crowds.Times have changed and will continue to change. Other counties have experienced similar issues facing population growth, outgrown facilities and inadequate locations. A proactive attitude has generated successful new developments, new fairgrounds facilities, enhanced county services and increased revenues and decreased county subsidies, in many Colorado counties.Many believe that larger, more frequent and a wider range of events would greatly benefit our community. More efficient facilities, adequate for hosting larger venues with a larger location, could greatly improve probability for larger, more frequent events. This concept should be considered a priority and great opportunity for many reasons, including the following:• Opportunity to create an energy efficient project, staying consistent with the exiting “Energy Village” concept the city of Rifle has done a great job recently establishing.• Opportunity to take advantage of natural features and energy availability and potential rebates and federal funds through many various programs.• Opportunity to create something positive for the community to look forward to and help contribute with. Likely possibility to bring work and create jobs for the community.• Opportunity to attract large events and users that have gone to Mesa and Eagle County where there are larger, more user-friendly facilities.• Opportunity to create a facility and useable centers within Garfield County that can sustain large meetings and host events for more than 100 people.• Opportunity to appeal to our changing demographics and help the community stay involved in and excited about 4-H programs, equestrian and rodeo programs.• Opportunity to help promote smart growth. Smart growth and proper redevelopment is very important for small, older communities. Creating walking friendly communities and new developments within towns help create smart infill areas rather than the “suburban sprawl” developments.• Opportunity to greatly reduce or eliminate an annual $750,000-plus county subsidy to the fairgrounds. A great fairground is a necessity. All options possible of even helping the issue should be considered.• Garfield County is the 13th largest populated Colorado county and has great potential. Numerous counties have created larger event venues and have stated these have attracted more participation than ever anticipated. New programs have been able to be formed. Existing programs have prospered and have gained popularity all from the availability for different organizations to have a place to meet.• Opportunity to properly “Preserve the Heritage.” This can be done by creating a great museum for the area. It could potentially resemble the historic past facilities and be located at a new, larger fairgrounds locations.• Larger economic impact! Positively affecting many components of our community.• Opportunity to try and improve our local economy and get away from this boom and bust history and cycle.I have been working on the need for a new facility with our community leaders for more than two years. In June 2009, The Fleisher Co. and I presented a compelling full project example to the Garfield County commissioners. A project that many believed made complete common and financial sense. A project that many believe should be a top priority of Garfield County and at least should be given adequate consideration and serious thought.It was sad and confusing and a complete disservice when on June 15, for some reason, our county commissioners felt it is not the right time to move forward with this concept at all.Since the June 1 and June 15 county commission meetings, I’ve received so much public support and gratitude. It has been incredible. I wanted to thank everyone and at the same time, let everyone know that I have formed GCFSG – Garfield County Fairgrounds Support Group. My goal is to include as many GCFSG members as possible to contribute opinion and thoughts as to what would be sustainable ideas and information sharing as well as continue the planning of this exciting project necessary for our community.You can become a member by sending me a letter, any type of signed letter of support or e-mail. You will then be able to receive regular updates as well as invitations to any potential meetings or gatherings. Please send any letters of support to: The Fleisher Co., 1430-A Railroad Avenue, Rifle, CO 81650 or e-mail to Cameron@TheFleisherCompany.com.Economic impact is important! Property future planning is critical. Garfield County has more potential than most, and community involvement can help make this happen.I am all for a competitive bid-type process. The best location, what is best for our community and property future planning is what we, the citizens and contributors and users, deserve. Help me support my vision!Cameron C. Wilcox, a partner/broker associate for Fleisher Land & Homes in Rifle, is Garfield County Fairgrounds support group manager/ member.


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