At long last, the Montgomery County Fairgrounds will have a new home in Jefferson Twp.
The decision to move the fairgrounds to Arthur O. Fisher Park came late Tuesday after a 90-minute Agricultural Society executive session and lengthy public debate over the winning site and two alternative locations in Germantown.
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The board approved the move in a 15-5 vote, ending a yearslong odyssey as community after community declined to host the historic fair, while giving a boost to a community looking for new energy.
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"This is the best news that Jefferson Twp. could have in a long time,” said James McGuire, a Jefferson Twp. trustee. “This is a great opportunity for us to rebuild the community, the citizens worked for two years, having meetings … this is the fruit of all their work.”
Work will begin immediately to transfer the county-owned land to the Ag Society, officials said. The county will donate the land to the society, allowing the board to maximize revenue off the pending $15 million sale of the current fairgrounds site.
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The 150-acre park could host the 2018 fair if groundbreaking occurs by July, said Greg Wallace, the fair’s executive director. The land already has water and sewer connections, he said.
The 2017 fair will take place July 10-15 at its original site across from Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.
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Not all in attendance supported the Jefferson Twp. site, including Jenny Michael, a 4H adviser and Germantown resident who supported moving the fair to her community. She encouraged the Ag Society to read a Dayton Daily News / WHIO report about a body discovered near the park in February.
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But Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, whose deputies provide the township’s police services, took issue with the characterization during the meeting.
“It’s not an unsafe community,” said Plummer. “In fact, crime has been trending down.”
Plummer, who attended the board’s executive session, told the predominantly Germantown crowd the fair would be “a serious burden” to the host community’s emergency services.
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Although several Germantown residents attended and expressed opposition to moving the site there, Germantown Mayor Steve Boeder expressed disappointment and gratitude, wishing the new community best of luck with the fair.
Ag Society Vice President Tim Terrill said members are looking forward to getting to work on the project.
“It’s been a long journey for all of us.”