By Michael Howell
On Monday, March 4, the County Commissioners approved a plan to add an additional 156 paved parking spaces at the Fairgrounds. The additional parking was needed to meet the City of Hamilton’s requirements for on-site parking related to the First Interstate Event facility. The Commissioners also got a preliminary peek at the Grand Plan for future development at the Fairgrounds as a whole. The plan has been in the works over the last three years based on public input at a series of public meetings.
Steady improvements to the Fairgrounds have also been made over that time period, including the installation of an irrigation system for the lawns and landscaping. The century old cottonwoods once lining the south edge of the Fairgrounds have been removed and new trees planted. The men’s restroom facilities have been revamped and the women’s restrooms are currently being restored.
Plans call for retaining the expansive open lawn at the south end of the Fairgrounds where, traditionally, the carnival rides are erected during Fair time. The expansive old horse race track has been redesigned into an equestrian arena. A proposed indoor equestrian facility situated just to the north has also been added as part of the future development.
Plans call for using the north section of the grounds, which is outside the city limits, to be used for a camping area and parking as well as a compact clay race track with bleachers designed for various events including motorized racing.
Plans also call for moving the main entrance to the Fairgrounds away from the corner of Fairgrounds and Old Corvallis Roads. It would be relocated further east down Fairgrounds Road. The current entrance area could then be used for bicycle parking racks.
As for the plan for additional parking spaces at the First Interstate Event Center, the new design extends the current paved parking area to the east, creating a total of 156 parking spaces, just two parking spaces short of the required number. The county plans to discuss either a waiver or some other alternative with the City to address the two-space shortfall. Along with increased parking planned for the north end of the grounds the total number of designated parking spaces at the Fairgrounds will increase from 500 to 750. The plans may be viewed at the County Commissioners administrative office or at the Fairgrounds.