Commissioners get peevish over fairground pavilion |

Commissioners get peevish over fairground pavilion

Tamara Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – Supporters of building a “livestock pavilion” at the county fairgrounds are pressuring Commissioner Peter Runyon to move.The group made a surprise visit to the Board of County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday. However, Runyon’s refusal to make a decision Tuesday sparked an emotional discussion about the project, which members of the fair and rodeo community believe is losing support on the three-member board. Many perceive Commissioner Arn Menconi as being against the project. And Commissioner Tom Stone, who is championing the pavilion, lead the charge in pressuring Runyon. He chastised Runyon for delaying a decision. “Well, you did make a decision, and I’m very disappointed,” Stone said. “You are not in favor of this.”Runyon disagreed. “I am not against this building,” he said. “I just want to do due diligence.”The heat is onStone introduced the topic hoping to clarify Runyon’s stance on the project. Runyon has expressed support for the proposed $2 million building, Stone said, yet county staff are “confused” about Runyon’s opinion. The county’s staff needs a majority of the board’s support to move ahead.The topic was not scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting. Menconi, who has been perceived as an opponent of the project, was in Chicago to help promote the county airport’s summer flights.Nevertheless, supporters – mainly residents involved in 4-H and the county fair – said they wanted a decision Tuesday. “I’m asking that both of you support this proposal,” said Mike Mathias. “We need decisions made now.”Karen Carthy pointed out that a young 4-H member had missed part of school Tuesday to watch the commissioner’s meeting. It would be nice for the young boy to be able to go back to school knowing the board had approved the project, she said. “This is a chance to make an investment in the fairgrounds that will actually pay for itself,” said John Fitzgerald. But Runyon said he still needs more information about what the building will be used for, noting that even supporters at the meeting had different ideas. Some described the proposed building as a bigger and better version of the livestock barn that was destroyed last fall to make way for a gravel pit. Others insisted the building will operate like an event center, hosting car shows, barrel racing and horse shows, in addition to housing 4-H livestock projects.Changing directions?The board agreed by a 2-1 vote in December to budget $1.9 million for a 24,000-square-foot metal pavilion. Stone and Commissioner Michael Gallagher, who Runyon replaced in January, wanted the project started immediately to have it ready for this summer’s county fair. Menconi voted against the spending and accused the other commissioners of fast-tracking the project. Since then the county has been working with a consultant, Roger Kinney, who has worked on similar projects in the state. Runyon said he was not impressed with Kinney’s work. There’s some concern that $1.9 million is too high a price for a metal building. The building’s purpose seems to have shifted somewhat since December, said County Administrator Jack Ingstad. At first, the building was going to be more of an event pavilion, now it looks like the county has put aside only enough money to build a livestock pavilion, he said. “What is the next step?” Stone asked Ingstad. Then added, “I appreciate you supporting Commissioner Runyon. I would have liked that support from you (on other issues), but you were never there.”Ingstad opted “to keep my mouth shut.”Stone thanked the crowd for attending and for refraining from making personal attacks on the commissioners for their opinions. Runyon said he wanted a discussion on the livestock pavilion scheduled for next week’s county board meeting. When Carthy asked for Runyon’s “word” on that, Runyon said he “resented the implication” that he had a hidden agenda. “That’s not what I meant, sir,” Carthy said, adding she just wanted to know so people wouldn’t take time off from work again unnecessarily.”I didn’t call for this meeting,” Runyon said.Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or, Colorado

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