Once fast-tracked fairgrounds plan stalls | VailDaily.com

Once fast-tracked fairgrounds plan stalls

Kathy Heicher

EAGLE – The newly-configured Board of Eagle County Commissioners isn’t putting a stop to the $1.9-million “livestock pavilion” project at the Eagle County Fairgrounds just yet. However, they are pulling back on the reins enough to slow the fast-track project up a bit.At a work session Tuesday, Jan. 18, Commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon discussed the possibility of hiring a facility-management consultant to do a feasibility study that would shed some light on just how, and how much, the Eagle building would be used.County Commissioner Tom Stone, who has been a strong supporter of the project, was not present. Stone was representing the county at a meeting of the Colorado River Water Conservation District.Stone and Commissioner Michael Gallagher approved the inclusion of the 24,000-square-foot livestock pavilion in the county’s 2005 budget, and put the project on a fast track. The intent was for the building to be ready by the 2005 County Fair. The facility has strong support from the Eagle County Fair Board, the local equestrian community, and the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce. Over the past decade, several plans for the fairgrounds have proposed a multi-purpose building. Supporters have argued the pavilion could be a livestock barn and exhibition hall for the county fair and also host trade shows, community gatherings, concerts and other special events. The building would be capable of seating 2,000 people.Menconi has consistently raised questions about the cost and use of the facility.County Administrator Jack Ingstad said a feasibility study for the pavilion would cost about $20,000 to $25,000, and could be completed in a relatively short period of time. The consultant would meet with potential users of the facility and the public in an attempt to determine how often the facility would be used.Ingstad a study would also determine what type of electrical wiring would be necessary to accommodate special events; whether the planned bathrooms could handle the crowd numbers; how noisy the heater would be; and how the dirt floor could be modified to accommodate various types of events, among others.Runyon questioned whether a downvalley events center would conflict with the soon-to-be-built Vail convention center.”What if we have two buildings in the valley that do the same thing?” he asked. He said marketing of the facility raises more questions than answers.”‘If you build it, they will come’ sounds nice … but will they?” he asked.Menconi said that if the primary purpose is to provide a place for 4-hers to raise their animals, he would prefer to explore the option of setting up some type of working ranch on the lower bench of the fairgrounds, near the Eagle River. “Where do we put or $2 million first – on something that meets 4-Her’s needs, or what the Fairgrounds people are trying to do with the master plan?” he asked. “I don’t understand what is driving this project.”Ingstad suggested several times that the easiest approach for the county could be scaling back the project.”Maybe it really is a livestock pavilion, and not an events center,” he said.The commissioners said they will again take up the subject again when the full board is present.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism