Posted at: 10/01/2012 5:52 PM
By: Dan Conradt
Future of Mower County Fair Grandstand Uncertain
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's been a fixture on the Mower County fairgrounds since before World War II. But time has taken its toll, and the days may be numbered for the fair grandstand.
And while we don't know yet what the solution will be, we're getting a better idea of what it won't be.
The structural problems came to light shortly before this year’s Mower County Fair, and the diagnosis was bleak:
"A lot of dry rot and structural failure in the cross beams," said Mower County Commissioner Jerry Reinartz.
And the options for making it right were limited.
Repair the old: "Our main concern was what would it cost to get the thing back into code where it was safe," Reinartz said.
Build something new: “The cost of that would depend on how elaborate you want it."
Or keep doing what the county did this summer on short notice: "Use temporary bleachers."
But as the county board's building committee started compiling numbers, the idea of *fixing* the existing grandstand became financially impractical.
"That was over $500,000 dollars," said Reinartz. “You'd still have an almost 80 year old structure that would require more ongoing maintenance. Our recommendation is going to be the existing grandstand be demolished and we move on from there."
“The grand stand was built back in the 30's for the WPA,” said Mower County Historical Society Director Dustin Heckman. “Where it is WPA it is of historical significance to the country and Mower County."
But with the county facing increased human services and corrections mandates – “Our budget is just looking bad for next year," said commissioner Jerry Reinartz. Keeping the history of the grandstand alive might have to be done without keeping the grandstand itself.
"As long as we have pictures of it and people's experiences of being at the grand stand i think that's a good way of keeping the historical story and integrity of the building going," said the Historical Society’s Dustin Heckman.
The county board's building committee will present its recommendation to the full board during a meeting on Tuesday.
The full board hopes to make a decision on the long-term future of the grandstand by next spring.