County Commons Master Plan
A final Master Plan for redevelopment of the Lincoln County Commons has been completed and is now available for public review on the county website. The document will be formally presented to the Master Plan Visioning Committee at a public meeting on Thursday, November 29th at 5:30 p.m. at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Newport. The committee will be asked to propose any final changes to the plan before forwarding it to the Fair Board and the County Commission for action.
Included in the $9.8 million proposal are a 15,000 square foot exhibition hall to replace the current structure of the same size; a 20,000 square foot covered pavilion supplanting the existing outdoor arena; rehabilitation of the existing livestock barn; re-purposing the floral building as a new home for 4-H; and a flexible landscaping plan to accommodate functional and recreational uses.
The capital portion of the project will be financed in part through $2.75 million that the county has already banked in dedicated transient room tax funds, with the remainder coming from a thirty-year revenue bond that will be repaid from future room tax income.
Ongoing operating and maintenance expenses will be covered through a combination of operating income and ongoing room tax revenues. The plan looks at a variety of scenarios (slower and faster growth of the room tax, lesser and greater utilization of the property) and in all cases, after the first year, projects that the combination of rental and room tax revenues will cover all of the operational needs.
Additionally, the City of Newport’s Urban Renewal Plan identifies up to $3 million in possible project participation, to be determined with the Urban Renewal Agency, which is not included in the $9.8 million, but would help support the redevelopment of this area and functionality of the site for multiple purposes.
The County Commission assumed control of the Fairgrounds property in 2009 and launched a multi-year public process to develop both a plan for the site and a sustainable operational blueprint. An initial master plan was completed in 2014 and this document represents the final step in that process.