Pickaway County Commissioners Adopt Fairgrounds Revitalization Plan

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Pickaway County Board of Commissioners recently voted unanimously to finalize the Pickaway County Fairgrounds Revitalization Plan it has been working towards for more than a year. The plan was developed in consultation with the engineering firm MS Consultants, with input from the Pickaway County Agricultural Society, the Pickaway County 4H Advisory Committee, the Junior Fair Board, and other community stakeholders. The plan also follows a public survey of residents commissioned by the Board to gauge public opinion as to what aspects of the fairgrounds should be the highest priority which generated more than 600 responses. The approved plan calls for a new entrance to the fairgrounds, new exterior fencing, additional parking, the replacement of all 4-H livestock facilities, and the construction of new indoor and outdoor show arenas.

“The Board has worked hard on this plan and we look forward to working with the community to implement it,” said Commissioner Jay Wippel. “It will be a multi-year project, but we are confident that between the funds we have saved over several years and the generosity of private donors in the community, we will see these new facilities become a reality. We believe that facilities benefitting local 4H and FFA programs should be the top priority for the fairgrounds, the results of our survey show that the community agrees, and we are excited to get this project done for the young people of Pickaway County.”

The Board of Commissioners has worked to double the county’s cash reserves over the last for years, and has committed to using roughly $1 million of these funds in 2017 to complete the initial phase of the revitalization plan. This would include a new parking lot which will increase available parking by more than 40%, new exterior fencing, and intersection improvements at Nicholas Drive and Lancaster Pike.

The Commissioners plan to work with the Pickaway County Community Foundation to immediately begin a fundraising effort for phase 2 of the plan: the replacement of all livestock facilities and the construction of two new Show arenas following the 2018 fair, with new facilities in place by the 2019 fair. By partnering with the non-profit PCCF, individuals and businesses can make tax-deductible contributions towards the fairgrounds construction. The Commissioners intend to include naming rights for the new facilities as a way to incentivize private donations.

“Part of our work over the last 18 months has been talking with other counties who have undertaken similar projects for their fairgrounds,” added Commissioner Brian Stewart. “Every county we’ve looked at has seen significant participation from the private sector in helping fund construction, and we feel that with this comprehensive plan in place, it will spur similar generosity from our community as well.”

The Commissioners estimate phase 2 of the project will cost at least $2 million, and intend to partner with the community to raise the funds to complete it with a mix of private and public funding. A third phase of the plan would involve the construction of a large multi-purpose building capable of hosting community and tourism events, and a fourth phase would involve the construction of an outdoor amphitheater and new, revenue-generating horse barns. A local non-profit organization, Pickaway Sportsman, Inc., has held fundraisers on the Pickaway County Fairgrounds each year for nearly a decade – for the stated purpose of funding construction of a multi-purpose facility – and has more than $900,000 on hand.

“This project will need to be a team effort to succeed,” said Commissioner Harold Henson. “The Commissioners have listened to our constituents and believe that this project deserves to be a large part of our capital budget spending, and if we get the cooperation of the private sector, the agricultural community, and Pickaway Sportsman, we believe this plan can be implemented without delay. If we do not get that support, then the scope and timing of the project could be affected. We are committed to doing this project in a way that is fiscally responsible.”

A copy of the Pickaway County Fairgrounds Revitalization Plan can be found online at www.pickaway.org.