Woodward, Okla. —
The Woodward Chamber of Commerce has begun efforts to encourage county residents to approve a sales tax increase to improve the Woodward County Fairgrounds.
Monday's monthly Chamber luncheon was completely centered around the proposed Fairgrounds Improvement Project, which includes renovating some of the current fair barns as well as constructing a new 60,000 square foot expo center.
Chamber President C. J. Montgomery kicked off the luncheon by discussing how the current fairground facilities are "in dire need of renovations," both because of their age and because of their role as a venue for many important events.
Montgomery then hailed the county commissioners as "forward-thinking" for their decision Monday morning to propose a half-cent sales tax increase to fund the Fairgrounds Improvement Project. Voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject the half-cent tax during an election on Feb. 12, 2013.
Montgomery said the election will give "residents the opportunity to make those long overdue and much needed renovations possible."
ARCHITECT DISCUSSES PROPOSED PROJECT DESIGNS
Project architect Heath Hans, who is a principal with Architects in Partnership, was on hand for the Chamber meeting to discuss some of the renovation details.
Hans explained that the oldest fair barn, referred to as Building 2, will be removed and replaced with a covered pavilion, which could be used for vendor space during trade shows or as an animal tie out area for livestock shows.
The Building 1 and Building 3 fair barns would be completely renovated after stripping them down "essentially to their metal frames," and then re-skinning them, placing new insulation inside, and updating the electrical service as well as ventilation and exhaust in both fair barns, so they are "basically like new," but with some cost savings, Hans said.
Hans then described the new expo center and how it would include a large, open-expanse multi-purpose arena. The new facility would also include some space for OSU Extension Center and District Attorney's offices to replace their current office complex, which he indicated was "not well-designed" for the agencies' needs.
In designing the new and improved Woodward County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, Hans said his firm was "not just tasked with designing new facilities, but we were tasked with trying to create facilities that could host a multitude of events, including the ones you already hold as well as attract new events."
He said he believes his design accomplishes that, as well as having enough space to accommodate growth of the events that are held there so that the new fairgrounds could "serve you for 30, 40, 50 years into the future."
"We're very excited that this morning, commissioners passed a resolution that will put this project before the people for a vote on Feb. 12," Hans said.
He then addressed the Chamber members saying, "we will definitely need your support as this goes forward."
To help voters to make up their minds on the issue, Hans said "we will hold several informational community meetings in the next 60 days leading up to the vote."