WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Letter to the Editor: On the Fairgrounds/Commons issue

The views and opinions of submitters to “Letters to the Editor” do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff or advertisers. The positions taken in the following letter are strictly those of the submitter.

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In response to April 27 “Lincoln County Commission doubles down on County Commons proposal”

While it is true that the “The Lincoln County Commons (Home of the Lincoln County Fair) Master Plan Refinement Planning process is well underway”, it cannot be said that there is much in the way of “outreach” or “public input” into the plan itself. In fact, there have been no public hearings on any options for the use of the Commons, other than the proposed $16 million+ events center.

Commissioners Doug Hunt, Terry Thompson and Bill Hall repeatedly suggest that the voters support this idea as evidenced by a 2016 ballot measure. That measure was for a 1% increase in the county room tax, resulting in a predicted $176,000 annually.

The measure states:

“The additional revenue would be available for future fairgrounds redevelopment and operations or similar facilities and operations throughout the County.”

The measure said nothing about an events center. It does not limit the use of these funds solely to the Commons site. It certainly does not suggest that the voters of Lincoln County support a $16 million to $17.5 million capital outlay to a facility that Hunt, Thompson, Hall and consultants admit will never even break even!

It is disingenuous for the Board to state that this planning process is “to bring the voters’ expressed desires to fruition”. It fact, it completely misstates the voters’ expressed desires. There is no comparison between agreeing to a room tax which is mostly paid by visitors and a county-taxpayer funded program which will operate at a loss of somewhere between $500,000 and $730,000 annually! (Note: these figures come directly from the “Draft Facilities Plan” dated 3/30/18.)

That same Plan states that here will be a series of three public meetings to be held throughout the County, “tentatively scheduled for late April”. As of 4/27/18, no such schedule was available on the Commons website.

There is no record that the Board ever actively addressed any other approaches for facilitating the Lincoln County Fair at its historical home, or for uses of the Commons site, or for alternate locations for the Fair itself.

I love the Lincoln County Fair and want it to continue as a fun community event which provides opportunities for young and old alike to participate and learn. I think 4H provides valuable activities for our youth and wonderful exhibits for the Fair. But, we don’t even know how much it would cost to keep the Fair itself on the traditional fairgrounds or locate it elsewhere because the Board has only ever considered one approach and poured hundreds of thousands of dollars to consultants to explore only it.

Both Hunt and Thompson, who are seeking reelection, have claimed that they have business experience they bring to bear when making decisions for the County. How, then, do they choose a multi-million dollar losing proposition without ever exploring any other options?

Why do Hunt, Thompson and Hall continue to insist on dragging us down this money-losing pit? Why do they refuse to listen to any other ideas? Why is public involvement nearly non-existent? Do paid consultants hold more sway over them than do the taxpayers of Lincoln County?

We need to stop throwing good money after bad. If Hunt, Thompson and Hall are unwilling to listen to any other ideas, our only option is to simply say “NO!” to this one. We need to stop this multi-million dollar money-losing fiasco right now and instead, focus on Our Lincoln County Fair and an appropriate use of the Commons site.

Sally Rose

South Beach, Oregon

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