The Montgomery County Agricultural Society is considering several potential fairgrounds sites as pressure mounts for the board to find the historic fair a new home, the Dayton Daily News has learned.
Ag Society officials have expressed frustration in recent weeks as communities express disinterest in hosting the new fairgrounds. But the newspaper found two communities — Trotwood and Germantown — in recent weeks reiterated clear interest in landing the fair, even as deals fell through with cities like Vandalia and Huber Heights.
The 21-member Ag Society board will meet Tuesday night to discuss “real estate options,” according to an agenda.
“It’s been a very difficult process,” said Alan Schaeffer, the Ag Society’s attorney. “We’re working diligently, moving forward as soon as possible.”
Time is narrowing for the Ag Society board to obtain land and construct facilities before the 2018 fair. The board will need to vacate the current Main Street fairgrounds by Oct. 1 should Fairgrounds Redevelopment Ltd., a joint venture controlled by Premier Health and the University of Dayton, finalize a $15 million purchase. An extended due diligence period is ongoing through March 30, and no closing date is set.
Arthur Fisher Park in Jefferson Twp., a site at Ohio 202 and Needmore Road in Dayton, an undisclosed location in Trotwood and two properties in Germantown remain under consideration, according to interviews and a review of the board’s meeting minutes, agendas and attachments.
Germantown Mayor Steve Boeder and state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, co-authored a letter to the Ag Society board Monday offering their “full support” for the move there.
“In order for the fair to be successful,” the letter reads, “the fair should locate to a community that welcomes it.” The correspondence references a prior letters “from many business owners in Germantown” advocating the fair relocate in the city. One of the letters, the Dayton Daily News found, included a handwritten pledge of $50,000 to the move.
Ag Society meeting minutes show the two Germantown sites under consideration are on Ohio 4 near Ohio 725.
Germantown’s correspondence comes following a December letter from Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald “reiterating our interest in reopening a dialogue” with the fair board.
Though the Trotwood site is not referenced in an online SurveyMonkey survey the Agricultural Society is circulating, Schaeffer said the property is “still in play.” The Dayton Daily News has requested a copy of the survey’s results under Ohio’s public records law.
A portion of Sycamore State Park was also under consideration as recently as January, meeting minutes show, around the time the board decided it would pursue a deal with Huber Heights.
The Huber Heights deal ultimately failed when the board offered $250,000 for a property the city wanted to sell for $1 million. Minutes from July show the board originally thought the city-owned Huber Heights land would be “donated” and “there will be no opposition.” The society also referenced keeping a Perry Twp. site “on the table.”
The July minutes also show board members met with representatives of property owners in Germantown who “are wanting ($)3 million,” though the minutes do not specify if the sites under discussion then are the same sites under consideration now.
In mid-February, the board agreed to pursue sites in Vandalia and Germantown at the same time, though Vandalia had already rejected the society’s proposal in December. When Vandalia again rejected the society’s proposal, the board’s executive committee met in special session and a majority vote approved pursuing the Fisher Park property.
Ag Society officials have also contacted city of Dayton leadership about the site at Ohio 202 and Needmore Road, though city officials confirmed the city has not had “detailed conversations” about the proposal in several weeks.