The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Waitsburg Grandstand's Days May Be Numbered

Fifty-nine percent of voters preferred demolition in recent advisory vote

 

April 12, 2018

Ken Graham

The Waitsburg's horse racing facilities have seen better days. Earlier this month, nearly 60 percent of voters in an advisory ballon said they would prefer to see the grandstands at the Waitsburg Fairgrounds demolished, rather the city spending money to repair or replace the facility.

WAITSBURG – This year's annual Waitsburg city ballot included an advisory item, with the city council seeking community input on whether to demolish, repair or replace the unsafe grandstands at the Waitsburg Fairgrounds. One hundred twenty-four citizens, 59% of the total, voted to tear down the grandstands, 81 voted to repair the facility, and six voted for complete replacement.

"Though it was an advisory vote and the City Council has the final decision, I would like to think that since it was almost a 60/30 split between options one and two, they would honor the wishes of the citizens and agree with their vote to tear it down," City Manager Randy Hinchliffe told The Times.

Council members had differing opinions on how to move forward, but all agreed that the City can't afford to shoulder the cost burden, and more creative options or partnerships should be examined.

Kate Hockersmith was the most outspoken in discounting the vote results. "I made it clear to the grandstands task force members and at the last the city council meeting, that I felt the grandstands ballot-question was heavily weighted towards a 'tear them down' response. My concerns were largely ignored. In light of the fact that a biased question was placed on the ballot, the vote, unfortunately, means very little," she said.

Terry Jacoy agreed that the community would be likely to support repairs in spite of the vote results. "This was purely advisory. To me, the building has historic value, just like the mill site had and the functionality of it is not accessible anymore. If the mill site hadn't burned down, I bet the community would have been behind it to make it functional. I think that's maybe the case with the grandstands, however the city can't afford to do the upgrades that are being thrown out there right now," he said.

Kevin House, on the other hand, appeared willing to accept that the grandstands may have met the end of their useful life. "I wasn't surprised by the voter response, though I had hoped to have more than 211 people weigh in. I do think that response could be interpreted as pretty representative of the whole. In my own opinion, I think you have to consider that there usually comes a time when something reaches the end of its useful purpose whether it's a 1979 pickup, a pair of work boots or ninety-year-old grandstands.

"There may be a point where the benefits and utility of owning and maintaining something in its original state is outweighed by the costs and effort of doing so. I think we need to consider that as the potential uses of the fairgrounds have changed with time that the facilities there could become more contemporary as well," he said

Jim Romine expressed frustration at how long the issue has dragged on without resolution. "This needs to be handled. Continuing to procrastinate on what to do with no end game or funding in sight is wasting everyone's time. I still do not understand why this, the park downtown, and the pool are not part of a 'Park and Recreation' board that encompasses the school district or 99361 zip code area. That works very well in little Prescott," he said.

KC Kuykendall agreed with the need for an overall game-plan. "Without a vision and a plan to achieve it, the fairgrounds will always be underutilized. I believe the City should explore public-private partnership options that would shift the cost of maintenance and development from the city to a private party, while maintaining the City's ultimate control over the types of events and activities permitted to take place there," he said.

The Waitsburg City Council meets the third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Lions Building at the Waitsburg Fairgrounds. The public is encouraged to attend. Agendas may be viewed prior to each meeting at the City website at http://www.cityofwaitsburg.com.

 

Reader Comments
(0)

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019