Major changes are needed for the crumbling Arizona State Fairgrounds to remain viable, state officials, architects and neighbors of the site said. (Photo by Claire Whitley/Daily Miner)
Originally published Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 05:51a.m.
PHOENIX (AP) – Major changes are needed for the crumbling Arizona State Fairgrounds to remain viable, state officials, architects and neighbors of the site said.
While state officials have floated ideas to move the fairgrounds from its current midtown Phoenix location, some residents of nearby historic neighborhoods and preservation advocates said the property and its historic Depression-era buildings should stay, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.
"This is, has been and should ever be a point of pride for the state," said Don Ryden, a historic preservation architect.
The governor's office, fair board and state historic preservation office invited residents to participate in a four-day planning session last weekend to generate ideas for the future of the fairgrounds, which have been in existence for more than a century.
Some of the plans that emerged from the session called for keeping the site's iconic buildings, but demolishing the less-important structures to increase access and visibility. Some of the participants suggested ways to make the grounds usable all year.
"I think that the ideas that came out of there could breathe life into the fair if it stays in its current location," Democratic state Rep. Ken Clark said.
Neighbors want the fair to stay where it is, but they want the grounds to be reworked, said G.G. George, president of both the Encanto Citizens Association and Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition.
"We would hate to see the fair leave; we want to help the fair in any way that we can," she said.
The state expects to release a final report this summer.
The Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board has estimated that the site and its aging buildings require more than $16 million in repairs.
The fair board is funded by the money generated from the fair and other events, but the state caps its spending.
The board can spend $12 million on general operations each year and $1 million on repairs and improvements.
"We are capped and cannot spend beyond that regardless of how much revenue we generate in a single year," said Michael Searle, deputy director of the fair board.
Any leftover money is placed in a reserve fund, which the state can tap into as needed.
– Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com