JOINT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
and FAIR BOARD MEETING
November 21, 2000
Commissioners' Conference Room
Fair Board Member Cleve Dumdi presided with Fair Board Members Jon Jaqua, Jean Duncan, Mike Gleason, Francesa Johnson and Dean Hanson present.
Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Anna Morrison, Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
1. Construction Project Update.
Mike Gleason, Manager, Fairgrounds, reported they were almost finished with the construction project. He noted they met all timelines and were on budget. He explained as they dismantled the HVAC system, the hot water pipes were full of sludge and they had to eliminate a portion of the project to replace the piping--a $500,000 adjustment.
2. 2000 Lane County Fair.
Gleason announced they had another successful fair. He reported that 180,000 people attended and food sales totaled $625,000, the highest per capita food sale of any fair on the West Coast. He added that visitors spent $3.20 per person on food. He said they had over 200 volunteers. He reported they made 13% more net income than last year. He reported that net income in 1998 was $372,00, in 1999 $391,000; and in 2000 $453,000. He added that the Fair is on a more solid financial footing than ever.
Gleason noted they had a partnership with Lane County Waste Management and the Fair had a 64% rate of recycling, which was better than the Country Fair.
3. Business Plan.
Gleason explained that the Fair Board had a 10-page business plan and a listing of activities. He noted he would redraft the plan and give it back at the next Fair Board meeting. He said he would send the Board of Commissioners a copy of the new draft.
Regarding the master plan, Gleason said the Fair Board requested a discussion about the planetarium to determine whether or not this would be a direction to follow. He reported there was nothing that the Board hadnt seen with previous master plans. He noted the neighborhood group always thought the Master Plan was not specific enough. He said a major interest of the neighborhood was a community greens area south of the Amazon Creek. He said the neighborhood had a committee that would request space that was adequate for children and parking. He said they were hoping for a rebuilding of the Amazon and the redesign was in the Corps of Engineer's program budget. He said they were looking for a mix of environmental classes, demonstrations and a park. He said they were hoping the Corps of Engineers would fund it and the city would fund part of the park project. He reported they are still working on Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Fairgrounds.
Gleason reported that the Planetariums funding expires in January. He said in the interim, they were discussing moving the facility onto the Fairgrounds and the Jaqua family would donate a significant amount to buy new state of the art equipment. He added the facility would become a planetarium, observatory and science center involving all types of sciences. He said the important linkage would be education. He said the Lane Extension Office could hold activities. He added since the City of Eugene passed their bond levy, they are open to discuss bringing children onto the facility. He thought it could be one of the biggest tourist attractions in Oregon. He said there could be business-related training through the Extension Service. He noted the two biggest issues were operating and capital costs.
On capital, Gleason noted the new construction would be $500,000 for the dome. He said they could have donations and grants that would make up the total. He added if they were to begin building immediately, they would be able to construct it before the fair next year. He stated they couldnt do the building or fundraising without a program.
Gleason said for operation, they needed to be able to operate quickly, as the current planetarium would be closing in January. He estimated that they would be losing $170,000 the first year because they have to build the facility and still operate the current facility in Alton Baker Park. He said they expect the cost in year two would be $87,000 and year three would be $50,000. He noted from that point on, they would be at break-even or better. He said if they were able to get the income they projected, they would reimburse Lane County.
Dwyer said he was concerned about projections and what would happen if this didnt work.
Gleason responded that part of their business plan is a formal recommendation for an exit strategy.
Dumdi stated that the Fair Board wanted an escape clause if it were determined that it would not work.
Van Vactor suggested that if they chose this, likely funds would come from transient room tax and video lottery or economic development funding. He said in this time frame, he wouldnt be able to determine if any federal timber money could be used. He noted the maximum obligation would be three years at $307,000.
Dumdi said the Fair Board would develop a business plan and bring it to the Board of Commissioners to deliberate.
Morrison suggested Gleason bring this item back to the Board on December 13, 2000.
Green wanted the Fair Board to highlight and demonstrate public interest and benefit compared to public investment of dollars. He wanted to make sure it was a good use of public dollars.
5. Other Business Update on Water Quality (Amazon Canal).
Regarding the water quality with the Amazon Canal, Gleason said he met with horse owners who were angry and disappointed. He said as long as they were working with the city and their wastewater and storm drainage master maintenance program, things were going okay. He said the Sierra Club and Citizens for Accountability filed a lawsuit under the federal Clean Water Act. He said after discussion, the Fair Board and their attorneys decided not to go to federal court and put the Fairgrounds at risk. He said the dilemma was a 365-day a year horse program. He said they didnt think they had a credible defense and the costs would be horrific.
There being no further business, Cleve Dumdi adjourned the meeting at 1:00 p.m.