Fairgrounds plan bad idea, too costly

To the editor:

“It was never about the fairgrounds!” This is a direct quote from one of the members of the Hancock County Exposition Complex Corporation steering committee, recorded on a Jan. 21 meeting during public comments. I have attended and recorded these meetings for almost a year. I have provided all three Commissioners and the Daily Reporter copies of my HCECC meetings and fair presentation recordings.

These six words, “It was never about the fairgrounds,” should be ringing in the ears of the commissioners when they consider the grossly inadequate HCECC strategic business plan and county farm lease. Vital needs/feasibility studies, master plan buildings construction cost information, revenue-generating projection studies, infrastructures (roads, sewers, retention pond, lights, fencing and electric service ) cost, public and private funding documentations were not provided to back up the business plan claims.

The Daily Reporter article on Aug. 19 states the project will cost more than $30 million. To quote from the HCECC’s “Answers to Fair Presentation Public Questions” document:

Question: How much will it cost?

Answer: “If the complete design were to be constructed all at once, the estimated cost is well over $30 million.”

All at once or in phases, the project will cost “well over $30 million!”

How much more and why are they hiding this information from the public and commissioners? HCECC president, councilman Kent Fisk, and the board’s vice president, commissioner Tom Stevens, must answer these questions along with many more before the Commissioners take any action on the ground lease or strategic plan.

The Constitution Committee has an alternative lower-cost new fairgrounds plan, which includes a horse arena and stalls. We have tried several times to present this plan to the commissioners and the county council. Hopefully on Sept. 1, the commissioners will let us present our plan.

Remember these six words: “It was never about the fairgrounds!”

If you feel the HCECC strategic plan and ground lease is a very bad idea and too costly for our county taxpayers, we need you to attend the Sept. 1 commissioners meeting at 8 a.m.

If you want to speak, you need to contact the auditor’s office at 317-477-1105 by the close of business today to be placed on the agenda. Right now, public speakers are limited to three minutes.

George Langston

Treasurer, The Constitution Committee