Commissioners consider repurposing fairgrounds

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By Corinne Westeman

The county commissioners questioned allowing Jeffco Parks to purchase equipment for the fairgrounds in case the land is repurposed in the near future.

During an April 3 staff briefing, Parks Director Tom Hoby and Dexter Foxworth, division director of Jeffco Events & Venues, asked the commissioners to authorize $105,000 to replace a grounds tractor and a maintenance vehicle. Both are past their 10-year lifespan and are used on a regular basis, they said.

Commissioner Libby Szabo commented that county officials and staff have discussed potentially repurposing the fairgrounds, but clarified that no decision has been made yet.

Hoby told the commissioners that both vehicles requiring replacement are high-utility and could easily be used by Open Space or other county offices.

County Manager Don Davis suggested the parks staff look into leasing rather than buying the two vehicles, or research other areas of the county where the equipment could be used if the fairgrounds were repurposed.

Hoby later clarified that these discussions on the fairgrounds’ use came out of Jeffco’s ongoing comprehensive facilities master plan study, which the county has hired consultants to conduct.

“There’s a variety of discussions that have come out of that study — looking at whether there’s any sense to have different uses or additive uses,” Hoby said.

Conversation about repurposing the fairgrounds have been raised from time to time for several decades, Hoby added.

“I wouldn’t want to alarm any ... fairgrounds fans, because there’s a lot of process and thought and discussion that would go into that idea before it can be refined to a level that we can do anything with,” Hoby said.

During the briefing, Commissioner Casey Tighe commented, “We could be repurposing the fairgrounds, but we have to keep the place running and make it safe and attractive to the people who use it. I’m OK with (replacing the vehicles), but I share the concerns that ... every dollar is important.”