La Plata County Commissioners have talked about and studied moving the fairgrounds out of Durango since the early 1990s.
They discussed it again on March 25 with Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Manager Connie Clementson. The proposed site for a future multi-event center includes BLM land on the ridge between south Durango and Grandview. It is currently leased for gravel mining.
County Commissioner Brad Blake said, "People aren't happy with the state of the fairgrounds." He said he has talked to Clementson about this, but he isn't "sold on any piece of property. There are some places where the BLM would be interested in participating with us."
Assistant County Manager Joanne Spina said the Hermosa Creek bill signed into law a few months ago included authorization to convey the BLM land to the county, if the county wants to proceed.
Clementson said, "The county didn't really need that legislation to allow for that. My concern about the 80 acres in the legislation, in 30 years will you have the same dilemma (lack of space) as you have now. The city will keep growing."
Spina said, "In addition to the 80 acres, we have our (county-owned) 40 acres versus less than 30 now" at the existing fairgrounds. The 40 acres is adjacent to the 80 acres. "There were archeological sites on the rest of the property (beyond the 80 acres) that the county didn't want to maintain," Spina said.
Clementson said the county can proceed with planning for that land if officials want to. "We're waiting on the county," she said, adding, "There may be other property that the BLM can work with you on." Another location might be better in 30 years, she suggested.
Spina said the task force that's been working on this doesn't want to re-locate too far outside of Durango.
Clementson said the gravel lease has been extended on the ridge, and when it's finally reclaimed, the developable land will have a lot smaller footprint.
County Manager Joe Kerby commented, "This is definitely one of those long-term projects. ... If your lease is another 10 years, that puts it to 20 or 30" years before the county could use that land.
Commissioner Julie Westendorff noted the county's revenue situation has changed. "We don't have the money to build a multi-event center," she said.
Clementson said, "We'll continue to work with you."
Spina told the Times this week that the proposal is "kind of in abeyance right now" until they know how long the gravel lease extension is.