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Fred Parry fair document

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Short Term Leases Jeopardize Future of Fairgrounds

The Boone County Commission met this afternoon and approved the First Reading of a proposal to lease portions of the Boone County Fairgrounds to Columbia-based Veterans United Home Loans and United Parcel Service (UPS). Veterans United will pay $30,000 per year for the exclusive use of the 85,000 square foot Coliseum, the Sapp Arena and a large parking lot to the north and east of the Coliseum. UPS will lease a large parking area for the purpose of staging semi-trailers at an annual cost of $10,000. The term of both leases is for three years.

The following statements are from Fred Parry, candidate for the Boone County Southern District Commission seat.

“For 17 years, the Boone County Commission has struggled without a business plan for managing the Boone County Fairgrounds. Today’s action is nothing more than an attempt to ‘kick the can down the road’ for another three years. The County Commission is about to accept a short-term bailout that does nothing to fix the long term challenges. Today, I asked the County Commission to reconsider this lease arrangement because it would delay the proactive development of a long-term solution for another three years. There is a growing interest in the community to make the fairgrounds a multi-faceted recreational complex that benefits both the citizens of rural Boone County and the citizens who live within the city limits of Columbia. Approving these leases will be a major setback for the long-term development of the fairgrounds.”

“First, it’s important to note that I have a tremendous amount of respect for both Veterans United and UPS. They are both excellent corporate citizens who employ a lot of Boone Countians. My concern is not with their actions as I suspect they are primarily interested in helping the county out of a bad situation. Unfortunately, these new leases create another layer of obstacles and hoops for the Boone County Fair Board to jump through. In spite of a promise made in 1999 that the Fair Board would be able to host the fair on this property, they have been displaced at great financial peril. It would not surprise me to see the Fair Board decide not to come back to the Boone County Fairgrounds.”

“I also asked the Commission for more of a guarantee in the provisions that will be made for the Boone County Fair. In order to hold the fair on the Boone County Fairgrounds, the Boone County Fair Board will have to get the permission of Veterans United to use the Coliseum, the Sapp Arena and parking lots. The fair will then have to get permission from UPS to place the Carnival Midway where it has traditionally been placed. They will then have to get permission from the County Commission to use the remainder of the fairgrounds including grandstand area, livestock barns and other parking areas. Once they have jumped through those hoops, the Fair Board will then have to pay $10,000 in rent to the County Commission to use those three areas for the fair for just five days. That’s pretty steep when compared to Veterans United’s rate of $30,000 for 365 days of the year.”

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