Washington County Fairgrounds Proposed New Deal

by Wendy on March 20, 2015

Washington County Fairgrounds in for Big Changes Under Proposed New Deal

via OregonLive.com
by Dana Tims (The Oregonian/OregonLive)

HILLSBORO/WASHINGTON COUNTY — A major deal involving Washington County and the city of Hillsboro proposes to spend up to $2 million to build what officials are calling a regional destination for recreational vehicles at the Washington County Fairgrounds.

Under the proposed agreement, the city would pay to build an urban RV park on five acres of land now owned by the county.

In exchange, Hillsboro would receive ownership of 15 acres of recreational space at the fairgrounds that the city has managed and maintained as sports fields for the past 40 years, according to a joint news release.

Both entities have been working quietly for weeks to iron out details of the proposed deal.

“This partnership makes sense for everyone,” Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey said. “The city can invest in the ball fields to improve the user experience for local families.

“Meanwhile,” he added, “Washington County secures the city’s help in building the urban RV park, creating a regional destination for RV owners, boosting businesses that benefit from tourism, and giving visitors another great option while enjoying the fair.”

Andy Duyck, Washington County board chairman, also praised the deal, saying it fits within county goals seeking a long-term vision for the fairgrounds and ensures “economic viability for traditional and new uses that benefit the public countywide.”

The agreement must be approved by both the Washington County Board of Commissioners and the Hillsboro City Council.

The new RV park, according to the release, “would be a first-class facility with high-end amenities, such as access to cable television, Wi-Fi, utilities, and more.”

Hillsboro said it would install artificial turf in much of the recreational play area to improve general conditions and make the fields usable in all weather. New lighting, baseball backstops, bases, players’ benches and bleachers will also be added.

The deal isn’t without critics. The Washington County Fairground Boosters, a group that has long clashed with the county over fairgrounds management, sent a letter to both governments earlier this month questioning the transparency of the deal.

The letter included a number of pointed questions, such as would the RV park be operated for profit, and are these proposed changes consistent with the Fair Complex Master Plan.

Fair Boosters President Jim Clute accused the public agencies of “whittling away” at the fairgrounds.

“They’re not being transparent at all,” Clute said. “They’ve got their agenda, and they’re running their plan, and the people of the county don’t mean a thing to them.”

Hillsboro city spokesman Patrick Preston said the $2 million in funding for the RV park will come from Gain Share, the state program that returns to local jurisdictions a portion of income taxes generated by property tax breaks given to companies like Intel. The city expects those dollars to cover the entire construction of the RV park, but Preston said the county would pay for any additional costs.

Hillsboro’s upgrades to the sports fields will cost $5.8 million, Preston said, but the city has not yet determined the funding source.

To read the original article, go to http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2015/03/washington_county_fairgrounds.html

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