Upgrades to fairgrounds in the works

By Aimee Hancock

ahancock@aimmediamidwest.com

TROY — The Miami County Fairgrounds may soon undergo a structural revamp, according to the Miami County Commissioners and Miami County Agricultural Society President Nick Shellenberger, all of whom agree upgrades to the grounds are overdue.

Board of Miami County Commissioners President Greg Simmons, the county has preliminarily begun looking into the ways in which the fairgrounds, which is owned by the county, is in need of repair. This primarily includes the office building and restrooms, both of which are deteriorating.

“What we’re doing right now is just looking into it to see what (can be done),” Simmons said. “What we would like to do is build a new building, put a new restroom in there, and upgrade our fairgrounds.”

Commissioner Ted Mercer said the current fairground restrooms are not up to date with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, which will be a priority during the upgrade. Plumbing and sewer line issues have also factored into the decision to update the grounds.

According to Shellenberger, the fairground office building was constructed in 1908. Since then, Shellenberger said, there have been minor remodeling on the facility “at least five times” over the years, none of which has taken place recently.

“Some of the remodels that have been done through the years weren’t complete tear-outs and rebuilds, but some different parts that were in bad shape were ‘band-aided’ over and they’re falling down essentially,” he said. “So, it’s causing a need for constant repair inside and it’s time for an update.”

Roadways and pavement throughout the fairgrounds were also noted as areas in need of improvement, Shellenberger said.

According to Simmons, the county’s Director of Operations and Facilities, Chris Johnson, has met with local architect Candace Goodall, who will provide a conceptual plan for a large building that may be able to house multiple agricultural-centered departments, along with a new and updated public restroom.

“There’s a possibility that we could make this a one-stop shop, so we’re doing preliminary investigating into what something like that might cost,” Mercer said. “Many of those buildings out there are older and it’s an important part of our agricultural society here in Miami County and we need to look at doing some improvements, so we’ve now started the process of doing the preliminary work.”

This preliminary feasibility planning will also include looking into the best location for the proposed building — which includes completing a preliminary site review for utility locations — as well as which buildings on the grounds will need torn down.

“The (location of) sewer and water pipes is going to dictate where we place this new structure,” Mercer said.

Mercer and Simmons stressed this initial work is just the first step in the planning of this project. If all falls into place, the goal for completion of would be by fair time 2022, with an aim to not interfere with any fair events.

As for a price tag, it is too early to have a precise number, but Simmons said the project will likely be fully funded by the county. Mercer added that if the future building houses additional agricultural-centered entities, those organizations would make lease payments to the county, which would help offset costs.

“We’re going to look at everything, and there’s a possibility of bonding that project out, and with leasing out part of that space, it will help make it less of a burden on the county,” Simmons said.

Simmons highlighted the significant role the fairgrounds play in Miami County, which factored greatly into the decision to move forward with these much-needed repairs.

“All three of us (commissioners) are very pro to the agricultural society and to the county fair,” Simmons said. “I think it’s something we need to keep up and we need to showcase it.”