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Speakers unload on supes: ‘You should listen’

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The Fairgrounds master plan, developed for the county by Dewberry, envisions the redevelopment of the property for concerts, festivals, conferences and other special events. The existing exhibit hall, amphitheater and front entrance signage would receive extensive upgrades. South Boston News
The Fairgrounds master plan, developed for the county by Dewberry, envisions the redevelopment of the property for concerts, festivals, conferences and other special events. The existing exhibit hall, amphitheater and front entrance signage would receive extensive upgrades. / January 28, 2013
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors has received a master plan for the Halifax County Fairgrounds that spells out $18 million in improvements, all aimed at turning the property into a year-round, all-purpose venue for entertainment and events, including the annual county fair.

Supervisors, who sought the master plan after questions arose about the suitability of the fairgrounds property for industrial tenants, offered a muted reaction at their annual strategic retreat Thursday and Friday at Riverstone Technology Park.

Board Chairman Tom West said members must first decide if they want to continue hosting the Halifax County Fair before acting on the master plan. ED-3 supervisor William I. Fitzgerald said he was surprised by the report’s focus, since he thought the master plan would explore the marketability of the fairgrounds’ nearly 250 acres of land — purchased by the county for $3.5 million, ostensibly to create a new business and industry park.

But Ron Paul of Dewberry explained that in input sessions with a locally appointed citizens group, the highest priority that emerged for the site was the creation of an outdoor activity area for various events. Under such an approach, the fairgrounds would be left intact for the public’s enjoyment, and the county’s transfer waste station — sited on an adjoining tract, where it might conflict with an industrial client — would remain in place.

The Fairgrounds property would generate income for the county in a number of ways, including from the rental of RV parking and camping sites for visitors to South Boston Speedway and to the county fair. On the expense side, however, water and sewer services would need to be upgraded, at an estimated cost of $1.2 million, and another $200,000 in site improvements would also be required.

Dewberry, heeding the input of the citizens group, also detailed plans for the second phase of the master plan, renovation and expansion of the existing exhibit hall. The updated exterior and the addition of a modern catering kitchen would allow for rental of the facility for weddings and other special events, at the cost of $2.6 million.

Phase Three of the plan calls for a new entry sign, new entrance gate and roadway enhancements, costing $455,000. Phase Four includes the construction of new food pavilions and a circle plaza with a center stage, at a cost of $835,000.

Improvements to the amphitheater, including the addition of an entry plaza, would cost another $4 million. The equestrian show area could be expanded for another $222,500.

Adding a history village and second entry plaza would cost $532,000, and new ticket pavilions, public toilets, a first aid station and a security station would add $615,375.

The master plan also calls for the relocation of the midway and parking enhancements, at a cost of $3.15 million, and improvements to the livestock exhibition hall and a relocated tractor pull area, costing $1,558,750. Finally, an automotive museum and event center could be added at the fairgrounds, at a cost of $2,980,000.

The supervisors formed the citizen committee prior to the development of the master plan to offer ideas and suggestions for how the fairgrounds and adjoining properties could be best utilized.

The committee included representatives from the county administration, the School Board, IDA, South Boston Speedway, the Board of Supervisors, the Heritage the Festival, Halifax County Department of Tourism, the County Ag Committee and the County Fair.

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Attention all Halifax County landowners - Get ready to sell your farms, or mortgage them to pay the property tax bill. The County has another wish list to fill, and needs your hard-earned wealth to pay for it...


I don't think the County really knows what it wants.

The other rag says the supes are bent over the results of the study and threatening not to pay for it, but reading between the lines it appears they didn't really tell D&D what they wanted from the Fairgrounds property.

The citizen survey shows people want cultural and recreational stuff; the supervisors are envisioning another industrial park that will sit empty and go begging for tenants for years as the others have- while the County still pays for its shell buildings and infrastructure that nobody's interested in without promising exorbitant tax breaks and incentives.

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