COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The City of Columbia could soon take over the Boone County Fairgrounds.
City Council and the Boone County Commission need to approve a deal where the county will give the fairgrounds to the city in a deed.
Several city council members have voiced their support for the deal, saying the recreation complex the city plans to build will be an asset to the city.
"The city's parks and rec department has a long history of really developing those types of parks into something that is really great for the community," said Matt Pitzer from Columbia's fifth ward. "I look forward to those opportunities and plans."
The city has plans to add a track and field arena, different sport fields and more to the grounds.
Once the city takes over the fairgrounds it will be responsible for the maintenance and repairs. The city already takes care of part of the land in the area. Veterans United who leases the fairgrounds also works to maintain the property. Veterans United will take care of the property for the next three years until their lease is up.
Ward two councilman Mike Trapp said the transition makes sense since the city already has crews caring for the property.
"We already have sports fields in that area so our crews are already out mowing and taking care of property, so it's a lot easier for us to maintain than it is for the county," Trapp said.
Pitzer said the money made from the complex will cover the costs of maintaining the land eventually.
He said the large sports complex the city plans on building will work in tandem with the fieldhouse the city built south of town to draw people to the area.
"Those two parks can really work together to draw a lot of the regional sports events that now so often go to Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City areas," he said.
"You know, we're right here in the middle of the state and it's a great opportunity for us to attract sports teams from all over the state here to Columbia," he said.
Trapp also voiced support for the plan to turn the land into a recreation complex.
"You have to invest in your strengths. Parks and recreational activities are a strength that we have, and we do have some financial challenges with some core issues, but our recreational opportunities are an economic driver for the community," he said.
Pitzer said this deal is better for the city than other deals that fell through in the past.
"A year or two years ago, you know, there was another proposal for trying to develop that jointly and that wasn't something that was really in the city's best interest," he said.
There were plans in 2017 to turn the land into a sports complex. This would have been a joint project with Columbia Parks and Recreation, the county and more.
Trapp also said the deal was the best one out of other ideas that have been brought forward.
"You know, there have been a number of different schemes that we've talked about partnering with the county miring my entire, I've been on council for seven years, and this has been an on again off again discussion, and out of all the possible deals that came forward this is the best one for the city," he said.
Ward six councilmember Betsy Peters also sent her reaction to the announcement in a statement.
"I’m pleased that the city and county were able to come to an agreement
regarding the fairgrounds. I look forward to having the county fair
back in the Columbia area. "