August 21, 2019

Commissioners approve purchase agreement for new fairgrounds property


STANDISH — Arenac County commissioners authorized the signing of a purchase agreement for property for a new fairgrounds along US-23 south of Standish at their last meeting Jan. 22.

The commissioners had previously approved the drafting of a letter of intent to purchase the property on the east side of US-23 behind the Dollar General in November.

As part of the agreement, $15,000 will be put in escrow as a sort of down payment for the property, county Chairman Adam Kroczaleski said, adding that the funds are coming from an Economic Development Corporation special projects line item and there is money specifically set aside for the project.

Kroczaleski said the agreement allows the county to purchase the property up until November in case something should happen that would derail the process, although he added that the hope is to purchase the property well before that time.

“The trade-off for having such a long time period is to ensure that we can receive the funds to purchase it,” Kroczaleski said. “That’s why the original $15,000 is nonrefundable, because that is 10 or 11 months where we have the option to not purchase it, even though we fully intend to purchase it.”

He said the county is looking to purchase a 52-acre portion of the property, excluding a 400-by-500-foot strip of land directly along the highway to provide room for commercial expansion in that area.

However, the new fairgrounds is projected to have two areas of highway frontage that will serve as entrances on the north and south ends of the property, Kroczaleski said.

The total cost to purchase this parcel is currently estimated to be around $145,000, Kroczaleski said, adding that the net profit from the sale of the old fairgrounds property will go toward the new property.

He said the value of the former fairgrounds is roughly estimated to be around $300,000 for the approximately 33 acres.

“When we did the feasibility study, there were other properties available that either would have cost less or wouldn’t have cost anything at all, but what we took into account was how much money would it take to get the property into a condition that was buildable?” Kroczaleski said. “So when you factor in that cost, the drainage is pretty good here and it’s closer to being ready to build on than the other properties are. Even though there is a higher upfront cost, construction costs will be lower.”

While the purchase is set for 2019, Kroczaleski said the upcoming fair will take place at the current fairgrounds, and hopefully by 2020 the fair will be hosted at the new property.

During the course of the process, the EDC and the county have met with fair board members to get their perspective on things such as the layout of the new fairgrounds, EDC Director Lisa Barna said.

“Our last design meeting with members of the fair board went extremely well,” Barna said. “It was a very positive meeting where people were very excited about the project and we had a lot of energy I hadn’t seen before, which was very empowering and exciting going forward.”

Barna said she feels that the plans for the property so far have created a lot of excitement about the project and she looks forward to the plans being made available to the public in the near future.

Overall, Kroczaleski said he feels the result of this process will be an improved fairgrounds for the community to enjoy, and it has the potential to provide the area with a large enough venue to host large events, which have been absent from the community since the closing of the Knights of Columbus and Veterans of Foreign Wars halls.

“I think there are multiple benefits to this location,” Kroczaleski said. “You have a much higher visibility for the fair, being right on the highway. Also, one of the critical components of the new design is to have a hall or community center that has a commercial kitchen, bathrooms, seating for several hundred people so that weddings, benefit dinners and graduation parties can be held there.”

A previous version of this story stated that Fair Board President Kim Karpinski did not have any comment. However, Karpinski was unaware of the purchase agreement when she was contacted, and thus she was unable to comment on it. That part of the story has been removed.


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