Summit County Council eyes new site for fairgrounds
After more than half a century, the Summit County Fair may be leaving Coalville City and moving down the street to Hoytsville.
On Tuesday, Summit County Manager Tom Fisher signed a $2.2 million purchase option for an 80-acre parcel in Hoytsville, located between Judd’s Lane and Hoytsville Road south of Interstate 80. The County Council is considering the location as a potential site for the county fairgrounds and a new community event center. The property is privately owned by Mark Judd.
"We fully acknowledge that the fair has been in that location since the 1930s and that it’s a big deal for the community," Fisher said. "But the current facility isn’t large enough and it doesn’t make sense to try and rebuild facilities at the current site. So we wanted to acknowledge that history and try to satisfy it as much as possible, which is why we centered the search on the North Summit area."
Signing the purchase option holds the property while officials perform their due diligence and start the conditional-use process before making the purchase, Fisher said. Various preliminary assessments have already taken place, including market feasibility studies and water rights analysis.
"We want to go through the process of deciding what it is that we want to do with the property. And then we will have the option or choice at the end of the period to say whether we want to actually purchase it or not," Fisher said.
The purchase would be paid for through a combination of Transient Room and Restaurant Tax funds. Officials say the fair and all related activities would be relocated to the new site, which would also include a community center to host events year round. Fisher estimated it will cost several million dollars to build the new facilities.
"This isn’t all about the fair. I don’t think we would be contemplating this large of a purchase if it was just about a 10-day event," Fisher said. "What we are looking at is putting together a facility that includes a larger meeting space for the North Summit community and the entire county for a variety of purposes year round."
For several years the County Council has been searching for a new location to house the fair and relocate it from the current 14-acre site. The council narrowed in on the Hoytsville site more than a year ago and began discussing the move with Coalville City Mayor Trever Johnson.
Johnson said he was initially reluctant about the deal and viewed it as a way of removing "just one more thing from the county seat." However, Johnson said keeping the fair in the city wasn’t an option.
"We’re wanting to expand it so we can have more events there instead of just one week out of a year and that would require some more land. I tried working with the (North Summit) school district to see if they would trade some land and I spoke with a couple of private property owners, I tried everything I could to get the fair to stay in Coalville but it became clear there weren’t any other options," Johnson said, adding that he begged the county to keep the fairgrounds on the East Side of Hoytsville.
However, Johnson said he came on board with the idea as he began exploring other uses for the current site, which will become the city’s property once the fairgrounds leave, including a community park, splash pad and multi-use playing fields.
"When I began to look at the overall impact and what we could do, which includes having two nice facilities within a couple miles of each other, for lack of a better word, I was converted to this," Johnson said.
Travis English, fair coordinator, said he is excited about the new site because the fair has outgrown the current facilities, which are also outdated.
"I couldn’t be happier," English said. "There is so much potential to improve the whole fair-goer experience. From the ease of parking to having new exhibit halls, I think it’s great and it is a win-win."
The purchase-option period will remain open until Dec. 31. A public meeting to discuss the property and uses the current site will be held Tuesday, Dec. 15, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Quonset Hut, in Coalville.
If the council moves forward with the deal, the fair could be held at the new site within a couple of years, Fisher said.
"The council would like to see the fair housed at this site in 2017. My initial reaction is that is extremely aggressive, but I wont say it can’t be done," Fisher said. "The council is just really wanting to figure out ways to bolster, through some public investment, the economy in North Summit. And the more we can expand a facility that could be used year round like this, including the fair, as well as work with Coalville city to redevelop the current site, the closer we are to doing that."
A head-on collision Thursday morning on Brown’s Canyon Road killed the driver of one vehicle and left another driver with critical injuries.