Indiana Daily Student

Monroe County Fairgrounds loses land

4-H arena will have to move if sports field is built

Monroe County plans to construct a new park area on a piece of land that the Monroe County Fair Board has been using since 1955. This would cut fair parking areas and force the board to move a riding arena, lights and recreational vehicle hookups that currently occupy land.\nThe county owns this land and has, historically, allowed the fair board to use it. Now, the county plans to create soccer fields, a dog park, an outdoor music venue, an irrigation barn and a reconstructed pre-Civil War era barn on the land north of the fairground it will reclaim from the fair board.\nChuck Stephenson, the administrator of the Monroe County Parks and Recreation Department, said the Monroe County Fairgrounds is located on 40 acres, 15 of which the fair board actually owns. The other 25 acres are leased from the county.\n"The fair board is a private organization," Stephenson said. "You can't take public land and give it to a private organization."\nJohn Richards, an attorney for the fair board, said the county is trying to redistribute the land so the fair board would be able to use eight acres of land near the Karst Farm Park's disk golf area. The fair board, however, would lose the use of more land than it would gain.\nKenny Treadway, the president of the Monroe County Fair Board, said the fair board had a verbal agreement with the county that gave it use of an additional 10 acres, but the paperwork for that agreement was never signed. Also, in 1995 there was an agreement that the fair board could use this land until 2022.\n"It's been a fuzzy issue for many years," said Sophia Travis, who is a member of both the Monroe County Council and the Monroe County Plan Commission and serves as a liaison with the Monroe County Parks and Recreation Department. "There's been a lot of conflicting documentation."\nThe county wants to build four more soccer fields in addition to the fields at Karst Farm Park. The location of these fields falls on part of the 10-acre area the county said the fair board could use in their 1995 verbal agreement. \n"We hope we can reach an agreement," Treadway said. "The county has 200 acres at Flatwoods Park out west of Ellettsville. They could use that for soccer fields."\nThe county told the fair board it has until March 31 to dismantle the property that is determined to be on the county's land. The county is then going to put up a fence through the area the 4-H riding arena currently occupies.\nAdam Edwards, an adult leader for the Vaqueros 4-H Horse and Pony Club and a 10-year 4-H member, said the club will have to reconfigure its riding arena and will have to reduce the length of the arena if the county decides to proceed with redistributing this land for parks purposes. He said the club was told at one time nothing would happen until 2022.\n"We don't have a choice," Edwards said. "We have about a 90 percent chance of losing that land. We're just hoping we have a place to show at the fair"

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