Boone County to open former fairgrounds lease applications to public

Related Story

COLUMBIA - The Boone County Commission will soon be accepting applications for anyone interested in leasing the former fairgrounds.

The commission is currently working on a draft for the request of proposals, which it hopes to have out by the first week of October.

"This is an opportunity to open up the process to a number of organizations that might have an idea that they think is viable," said district one commissioner Fred Parry. "We've had a lot of conversations with a number of people over the years from equestrian groups, people with sports parks, people with ideas that they think would benefit the entire community."

Parry said the commission does not have any specific preference over who should take over the 189-acre lot.

"At this point, the county commission is very open-minded," he said. "The county has been struggling for 19 years, trying to find an appropriate use or viable business plan for the Boone County fairgrounds."

The commission plans to have applications due the first week of January. Then, it will weigh the financial and public benefits of each applicant. The commission wants the public to be a part of deciding who will be the best fit to benefit the community.

Parry said the current state of the grounds could not get worse.

"They're currently boarded up. Parts of it are being rented to Veterans United and by United Parcel Service, so the public really does not have access to that community asset. I think anything we do would most likely be an improvement," he said.

The leases for Veterans United and UPS expire in mid-2019, which Parry said the commission has taken into account.

Veterans United has held its annual company holiday event for six years at its location on the grounds. Media relations specialist for Veterans United Chris Cline said it is an ideal location, and the company looks forward to reviewing the lease when it is available.

We reached UPS regarding their lease, but the company did not get back by time of publication.

Parry said the grounds are a tremendous asset and at a great location.

"It has I think a great deal of potential. The county wants to continue to own that property because we feel like the public benefit in the future is going to be significant," he said.

There are currently no known interested parties, but Parry said the commission has had inquiries.