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No consensus by Halifax County supervisors on fairgrounds property

SoVaNow.com / January 09, 2014


The Halifax County Board of Supervisors continues to discuss the future of the county fairgrounds property, but agreement on its ultimate purpose — as an entertainment venue, an industrial site, or some combination of the two — remains elusive.

The fairgrounds was the chief topic of conversation among supervisors at their Monday night meeting, the first of the new year. Board members picked up where they last left off following a December session at which the Board’s fairground committee offered four proposals for use of the property. Three were accepted.

The fourth recommendation — to turn over a 42-acre section on Plywood Road to the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority for use as an industrial site — failed to garner a consensus among Board members. Board Chairman Tom West is asking that 11.5 acres be carved out for use by the Heritage Festival, held annually at the fairgrounds. West said the land is needed for tractor pulls and expanded festival activities.

The supervisors did not resolve the matter Monday, but they did agree to go forward with a preliminary engineering study on extending water and sewer to the site — a prerequisite for turning it into an industry-business park.

Board Vice-Chairman William Bryant Claiborne renewed his call to dedicate the full 42-acre tract as an industrial park, pointing to the intent of the Board when it first purchased the fairgrounds property in the previous decade. Halifax County paid $3.5 million for the property.

“ I would never have voted to buy the property if we had not told the citizens we were buying it for economic development. That’s what we told them we were going to do,” he said.

The section being debated comprises just a portion of the full fairgrounds site. It is located near the county waste transfer station and down the road from the new Halifax County Biomass Plant on Plywood Road.

ED-1 supervisor J. T. Davis, responding to recent comments by IDA Director Matt Leonard that the fairgrounds property is only one of several sites being marketed by the IDA, asked to know more about those sites and what the IDA plans to do with them.

ED-4 supervisor Doug Bowman pointed out that the discussion over the future use of the fairgrounds is “hypothetical.” “If we get a prospect [for the fairgrounds property] we can deal with the size of the parcel then,” said Bowman.

Before Halifax County can obtain grant funding to pay for the extension of water and sewer, it will need to have a good prospect for the site, he said.

Bowman predicted it will be ten years before Halifax County is likely have such a prospect, but, “It’s no use holding up the preliminary engineering study which will give us plans and estimated costs for the service.”

Bobby Conner, one of the founders of the Heritage Festival, told supervisors that his group is willing to help with the costs of the preliminary engineering study which he said “needs to go forward.” Conner also pressed for use of the 11 acres in question, which he said is needed to expand the festival and add more events.

Conner, referring to the high cost of removing sewage from the fairgrounds site, said the Heritage Festival also would benefit from the extension of municipal service. “Having water and sewer will be a great asset and we’ll help, but we want to know that we won’t be pushed out to the lower end of the park.”

Newly elected ED-6 Supervisor Larry Giardano moved to delay any decision on the division of the property. His motion was seconded by Bowman, who stipulated that moving ahead with the preliminary engineering study should be included in the motion. It passed on an 8-0 vote.

Last month, the supervisors agreed to set aside the fairgrounds site for future fairs, festivals and entertainment events; earmark a limited amount of space for low impact camping for visitors to the fair, festival and South Boston Speedway; and leave undeveloped a portion of low, irregular land on the eastern side of the property.



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Comments

Why would money be spent on a tourism center only to have land taken from one of the county's truly viable sources of tourism? Why do the taxpayers have to pay for buildings and land development for wealthy companies? Instead of buying land and building buildings, why not just advertise your bribe in the newspapers and write the corporation a check?

Comments

Finally Doug Bowman said a truth, It will be at least 10 years before any company will consider coming to the negative environment county. Who knows why the county needed a fairgrounds????????????

Comments

Maybe millions of dollars in land development and building construction is just not enough. Maybe we would stand a better chance attracting a new company by offering up our first born male sons.


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