Janesville45.3°

County committee tables fairgrounds resolution

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ANN MARIE AMES
February 27, 2008
— A resolution to set aside land for a future Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds will go back to the committee that wrote it.

The Rock County Board Staff Committee debated for more than an hour Tuesday before it voted to table a resolution to set aside 100 acres of the former Rock County Farm property. The resolution approved last week by the agriculture and extension committee specified property at the northeast corner of the intersection of highways 51 and 14, across from the Rock County Jail.


Tabling the resolution could allow the ag committee to consider a different 100 acres of the county farm, staff committee Chairman Richard Ott said.


A similar resolution failed at the county board level in 2004, partly because the wording was vague.


This time around, it was too specific for one supervisor.


In 2004, the agriculture committee failed to specify what 100 acres of the county farm should be set aside. When the resolution got to the county board, the board made things even less clear by amending the resolution to set aside 100 acres of “any” county owned property.


Beloit Supervisor Betty Jo Bussie on Tuesday said the new resolution restricted the county’s options to sell the old farm.


“Don’t tie the county’s hands to where it’s going to be,” Bussie said


Bussie was speaking to the members of the Rock County 4-H Fair Board, which is independent of county government. Most of the board’s members were in the audience Tuesday, and the audience outnumbered the committee.


Mary Fox, fair board treasurer, said specifying property for fairgrounds expansion might encourage private entities to get involved.


“Perhaps another J.A. Craig or another big corporation,” Fox said.


Craig was a famed Janesville industrialist in the early 1900s who was a benefactor of the fairgrounds and other Janesville projects.


The Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds is 18.5 county-owned acres on Craig Avenue in Janesville. Supporters of a new fairgrounds say the grounds are too small, don’t allow ample parking and have deteriorating infrastructure.


The property at highways 14 and 51 was assessed at $50,000 per acre in 2006.


Hank Brill, committee member and county supervisor, said setting aside land would be a good investment.


“If the land is sold, the money goes into the budget, and in a year or two it’s gone,” Brill said. “I don’t think we could do anything better for taxpayers than set aside this 100 acres.”


Supervisor Sandra Kraft, a member of the staff committee, disagreed, saying the property could grow even more valuable than its assessed value of $50,000 per acre.


“I have difficulty financially using that land,” Kraft said.



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