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Country Fair Park focus of discussion

GRANDVIEW - Taking stock and putting in a good word were two ideas that came from a roundtable discussion last night about Grandview's Country Fair Park.

The meeting drew representatives from a variety of groups within the city, including city staff and officials, the port district, chamber of commerce, school district and the fair board.

The idea is to see the park and its fairgrounds have more use. In 2007, for example, there were 17 events held at the park other than the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo.

Judi Smasne is president of the fair board, and she suggested the board's existing lease with the city for use of 3.62 acres at the park should be revisited. She said entities that want to use the park have to sign two contracts-with the city and the board-as well as two payments.

Smasne noted the fair board has been reticent to lease out its portion of the grounds due to a lawsuit this past year that cost the group $4,500 in legal fees. Smasne said the board is researching to make sure it is covered by event coordinators in the future who rent the park.

Mayor Norm Childress said the city would look into whether its insurance could be of help for the fair board in the future.

At the same time, Childress emphasized the issue is not re-doing a lease. He said it is a "back burner" issue.

Rather, he noted the issue is attracting users to the park, then dealing with details.

Public Works Director Cus Arteaga suggested a memorandum of understanding between the city and the fair board so that users would only have to deal with one entity.

There was momentum last night to develop a brochure and mail it out to wineries around the state to promote the fairgrounds as a venue for events.

Grandview Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Beth Bourgeois said she is working with the Sunnyside Chamber on raising funds to bring a concert to the park.

Bourgeois also suggested working with bus companies from western Washington that make tours of the wine country.

The hour-long session wrapped up with a decision to form a board to assess the fairgrounds and buildings and see what needs to be repaired or upgraded. City Councilwoman Jan McDonald suggested that church youth groups may be able to help with repairing buildings at the park.

The roundtable discussion will pick up again in about two months, when the new committee reports its findings on what needs to be upgraded.

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