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Is move in fair’s future?

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ANN MARIE AMES
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
— Just like a Ferris wheel, talk of moving the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds has come around again.

The county agriculture and extension education committee tonight could take action on a resolution setting aside 100 acres of the former county farm property for the fairgrounds.


The property is bordered by Highway 51 on the west and Highway 14 on the south.


The meeting is at 7 tonight in the second-floor conference room of the Rock County Courthouse, 51 S. Main Street, Janesville.


The resolution is mostly symbolic, committee chairman Neil Deupree said.


“But symbolism has its place,” Deupree said. “And intention has its place.”


If the county set aside property to replace the 18.5-acre fairgrounds on Craig Avenue in Janesville, private groups could get involved in the project, Deupree said.


A future county board could decide to follow the intentions of this board and move forward with the project, he said.


Maybe.


A future board also could overturn the resolution. This isn’t the first time the Rock County Board has voted on a similar plan.


In September 2004, the board voted on a resolution setting aside 100 acres of the county farm for a future fairgrounds. But that night the board amended the resolution to set aside 100 acres of any land owned by the county.


“So that’s where it stood,” Deupree said.


Without a location, the project never went anywhere, he said.


Fairgrounds expansion was in the news again in the fall of 2006 when Mulder Dairy Farms offered to trade property and cash for the county farm. In October 2006, the board rejected 27-2 the Mulder offer to trade 331 acres in La Prairie Township and $10.6 million for 465 acres of the county farm.


Deupree said it’s “clear” the size of the fairgrounds is limiting, and its infrastructure is aging. But the need for a new grounds needs to be weighed against at least two things, he said:


-- Farmland preservation


“If we are in favor of preserving farmland, this would be a good place to start preserving,” Deupree said.


-- The value of the property in the county’s pocket.


The area at highways 51 and 14 is prime for future commercial development, and as Janesville expands, “(A fairgrounds) would pretty obviously take a chunk out of the value of that,” Deupree said.


Currently, 398 acres of the farm cropland is in a three-year lease agreement. Rental payments were $165 per acre in 2007. They are $167 per acre in 2008 and $169 per acre in 2009, according to the fiscal note on the proposed resolution.


In 2006, the land was appraised at $50,000 per acre, the note stated.


IF YOU GO

What: Meeting of the Rock County Agriculture and Extension Education Committee


When: 7 tonight


Where: The second-floor conference room of the Rock County Courthouse, 51 S. Main Street, Janesville.


What’s up: The committee is considering a resolution to set aside 100 acres of the former county farm for a future fairground.


Last updated: 4:09 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012


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