New Funding May Push Fairground Location Decision
As the community gathers at the Alachua County Fairgrounds for rides and fun, city and county officials are trying to figure out where to move the property. So far, the options are to transfer to a nearby location the county owns in East Gainesville or the Canterbury Equestrian Facility in Newberry. Gainesville City Commissioner Scherwin Henry is not a fan of the latter proposal: "As it stands now, the county commission is talking about taking dollars from one community and giving it to another."
The difference is the pricetag. It would cost the county about $22 million to develop the Waldo Road location, while a donor has come forward already to pay $4 million of the $10 million it would cost for a move to Newberry. But the Newberry plan has its opponents-- including Scherwin Henry's constituents. Henry says "the opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the fairgrounds. They recognized the importance of keeping the fairgrounds in East Gainesville. It was explained to them the economic impact."
This is an impact some say goes beyond one community fair because of the other events hosted at the fairgrounds, including roller derby practices and the medieval fair in February. The Alachua County Fair's coordinator, Stephen White, has a different stance:
"I really don't have any opinion on whether or not it moves because it really isn't my decision. I think that both the East side and Newberry have their own facets about them."
Right now, the fairgrounds are surrounded by woodlands, a prison and an airport. Those who want to keep the grounds in East Gainesville say it's important for the areas redevelopment and economic growth.
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