Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Solano County pumps cash into fairgrounds revamp project

County pumps cash into fairgrounds revamp project

Solano County supervisors on Tuesday approved agreements and fees totaling $1.2 million to keep the county fairgrounds redevelopment project moving along. It's the latest step in the county's effort to transform its aging, 149-acre fairgrounds in Vallejo into a year-round, regional attraction. A vision previously approved by the county and Vallejo calls for shops and restaurants in a Main Street-style setting, a sports arena, a park along a restored creek, a 10,000-square-foot exposition hall and other features, along with new facilities for the annual fair.

The new agreements hire Brooks Street consultants to manage the project and SWA consultants to create a specific plan. The county will also pay fees to Vallejo for costs associated with processing the various, needed entitlements. Money comes from $4.4 million in loans that the board previously made to the project from General Fund savings. A successful project would repay the loans. The county has already spent $1.3 million developing the initial vision. The Board of Supervisors approved the latest round of agreements by a 4-1 vote. Supervisors John Vasquez, Mike Reagan, Linda Seifert and Jim Spering voted 'yes' and Supervisor Barbara Kondylis -- who represents most of Vallejo -- voted 'no.' 'I think we need to invest in future revenue sources,' Spering said. Kondylis said child welfare, the Sheriff's Office and other county programs have seen reductions….

The vision for the fairgrounds approved by the board in June 2009 included a general map and conceptual drawings, but not details. Deputy County Counsel Bernadette Curry said the specific plan will put 'meat on the bones.' Solano County normally wouldn't have to get approvals from Vallejo for work done on county property, even county property within Vallejo city limits. But Curry noted that the fairgrounds plan calls for private development. Plus, the two agencies are working together. The Board of Supervisors will have more fairgrounds agreements coming before it. Curry said a contract to do the environmental impact report could come for a vote in June or July. Also Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors set June 28 as the day to start hearings for the 2010-11 budget. Supervisors heard a report that the General Fund structural deficit has been cut from $18 million a few months ago to $5.5 million. However, it is expected to be $16 million or more for the fiscal year beginning July 1 unless further cuts are made or more revenue found.