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Residents voice ideas at fair association meetings

Dickinson - The Stark County Fair Association held two public input meetings Tuesday to gather opinions regarding a new fairgrounds complex in Dickinson.

The meetings held in Belfield and Dickinson gave the public a chance to voice their opinions concerning the development of 56.38 acres in west Dickinson, which were set aside for the fair board to use.

"We plan to provide a multi-use complex for education, recreation and public enjoyment," Kurt Froelich, chairperson of the fair board, said at the Belfield meeting. "We are looking at a project that is multi-faceted."

Froelich made it clear that these meetings are being held for the public to generate ideas about how to use the land. He stated that although the fair board has ideas about how it may want to use the land, it has yet to make definite decisions.

"A goal is to have a one-stop shop for family entertainment," Froelich said.

Although the Dickinson meeting was brief, many ideas and concerns were voiced.

Irene Schafer, executive officer of Dickinson Area Builders, suggested that the land be used to hold a Stark County fair. Schafer also suggested putting a reinforced cement floor in a facility to accommodate heavy equipment storage.

Ron Urlacher of Dickinson proposed a facility be built for students involved in high school rodeo to practice.

"Depending on the weather, they have no place to go," Urlacher said.

Chip Poland of South Heart pointed out the area does not need to have one all-encompassing building. The area could hold several, multipurpose buildings.

Poland, who is chair of the agriculture department at Dickinson State University, said he thought DSU agricultural students could benefit from the area.

"We would make use of a facility on an almost daily basis nine months out of the year. Our challenge would be we don't require our students to have their own transportation," Poland said.

Although less than a handful of individuals attended the early afternoon Belfield meeting, those who came were quite vocal about their concerns and ideas.

Philip Dolyniuk of Belfield voiced his concern about how this area could relate to farm and ranch. Jeff Moore of Dickinson suggested 4-H could use the area.

"Is this a facility that could be used to board horses?" Moore asked.

Fair board member Bob Zent said using the area to keep horses overnight is a possibility, but boarding horses long term may not be possible.

Moore and Dolyniuk both expressed concern about the cost of this project. Because the future of the area is still undecided, expenses are impossible to calculate, said Paul Griffin, a facilitator and discussion leader of the meetings.

Demand for this project also was questioned.

"Stark County is one of the two counties west of the river that doesn't have a fairground," fair board member and Stark County Commissioner Russ Hoff said.

"The carnival comes to town every year. This would be a better place to have it," Moore added.

Moore said the area should provide activities for all ages. He suggested auction sales, arts and crafts shows and other social activities for the older population. He also suggested an archery area and a place for car and agricultural shows for people of all ages.

"I have a young daughter who would love to see a go-cart track," said Connie Monson, fair board member.

Other suggestions from the Belfield meeting included everything from a place to fly model airplanes to an indoor pistol range to a softball complex.

The fair board will hold two more public input meetings regarding the fairgrounds area on Feb. 12. One meeting will be held at the Richardton Legion Hall at 1:30 p.m., and another meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Dickinson City Hall.