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Archive for Monday, February 3, 2014

Douglas County Fairgrounds may get open pavilion, more parking

February 3, 2014

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A long-awaited master plan for improvements at the Douglas County Fairgrounds calls for an estimated $6.5 million worth of improvements, including a new open pavilion, expanded parking and a public meeting hall.

County commissioners will get their first look at the plans during a work session scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday at the County Courthouse.

Assistant County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said various groups that use the fairgrounds at 19th and Harper have been pushing for improvements since about 2006. She said there is a large amount of "deferred maintenance" at the facility, including buildings that are not handicapped accessible, but efforts to address those issues were put on hold during the economic downturn that began in 2008.

Last fall, commissioners directed the groups to develop a master plan, pulling together all the renovations and new facilities the groups think are needed.

Plinsky said the new open pavilion would be located immediately east of the indoor arena and would replace the current judging pavilion, which she said is antiquated and out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The plan also calls for a new ticket booth and concession stand at the front of the outdoor arena, and a new meeting hall to replace what are now known as Buildings 1 and 2.

Plinsky said it will be up to county commissioners to decide how much of the plan to pursue, and whether to finance it with capital improvement funds or general obligation bonds.

After the work session commissioners will conduct their regular 4 p.m. meeting, which includes a discussion of possible new development codes for wind energy projects.

In December, commissioners imposed a moratorium on permits for wind energy development after Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources began soliciting easements to build wind towers in southwest Douglas County.

NextEra also has a pending application for one meteorological tower that would be used to measure wind currents.

The study session will include a general discussion of the wind energy industry in Kansas, as well as model regulations used in other communities.

In other business, commissioners will discuss possible changes to their annual budgeting process. The changes, which would take effect in the upcoming budget cycle, would include new requirements for outside agencies that receive county funding.

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