Hearing planned for fairgrounds swap

By Sarah Pridgeon

With a land appraisal now in hand, the three entities involved in a proposed land swap that would see the fairgrounds relocated elsewhere in Sundance and a new football field built in their place are preparing to enter the next stage of consideration. Before they do so, however, the Crook County School District, County Commissioners and City of Sundance intend to ask for the public’s opinion.

At a meeting last week between Commissioner Jim Hadley, Superintendent Byron Stutzman, Facilities Manager Tom Necklason and Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Lenz, the decision was made to hold a public meeting before moving ahead any further.

If the land swap does eventually happen, the city will donate land for the new fairgrounds, while the county will allow the school district to purchase the land on which the fairgrounds now sit. The swap proposal is still in its initial stages, with each entity carefully considering the pros and cons for its stakeholders.

The football field would eventually be re-built directly opposite the new elementary school, making it easily accessible for the students on campus, while the fairgrounds would have a more spacious location with new buildings and the possibility of future expansion.

According to Lenz, the appraisal has confirmed that enough money would be available to the county, should it choose to pursue the swap, to seek grants to build a new fairground. This would entail the city donating a portion of land to the county at no charge and the school district then purchasing the fairgrounds for their appraised value.

“However, the County Commissioners are not going to move forward until they hear from the public,” Lenz says.

The public meeting will be an opportunity for the public to air their feelings and concerns and find out more about the potential benefits of the proposal, says Lenz. It will include speakers from the involved entities and a slide show to demonstrate how the fairgrounds and football fields would eventually look.

Any member of the public is encouraged to attend, from businesspeople interested in how the swap might affect their sales; to 4-H members, fairgoers and facility users; and parents of children at the Sundance schools.

If the public is receptive to the idea, the three entities can begin to discuss their options – and Lenz believes there is a good outlook for the proposal.

“The opportunity to have this kind of money to develop the fairgrounds, it just probably isn’t going to happen again,” she says.

“It makes sense that way, for all parties.”

Lenz is already working on several ideas for grants, contingent on the county being able to accept an offer from the school. The State Lands and Investments Board and the Wyoming Business Council are both positive about the idea of three entities working together for the benefit of the whole community, she says.

The public hearing has been tentatively scheduled for May 15 at around 6 p.m. and is expected to be held in one of the Sundance schools.