Print Page

Fairgrounds roaring with new construction activity

Heavy equipment moves thousands of tons of earth to excavate ponds east of the race track.

Sun Advocate associate editor

Someday, you'll be able to hear a bobber plunk as it hits the quiet surface of the new fishing pond east of the fairgrounds rodeo arena. But not today.

Today and for about two more months, a squadron of heavy earth moving equipment is eating big bites of dirt from the slope leading to the nearby canal, excavating the holes that will soon hold still waters. According to commissioner Mike Milovich, Nelco Contractors is working to meet a deadline of April 15 to get the first phase of the project done, because irrigators downstream will be calling for water about then.

In all, the diggers will have to remove about 130,000 cubic yards of earth to create a multiple-use water retention project. When they are done, there will be one hole eight to 12 feet deep and 2.5 acres in area. That will be the urban fishery. Next to that there will be a smaller pond, less than an acre, which will be a settling pool for irrigation water.

It's the smaller pool that must be completed first, and it will be the money saver for the county and other irrigators. First, by removing silt from the canal water, it will spare a lot of clogged sprinkler heads and allow more efficient watering of crops.

Second, it will save the county a six-figure sum each year on irrigation expense for fairgrounds greenery and the adjacent ballparks. At a February meeting of the Recreation/Transportation Special Service District, Milovich estimated that having a nearby source of raw water would be at least $110,000 cheaper than having to irrigate with culinary water from the Price River Water Improvement District.

County engineer Curtis Page said Monday that the county will be using pumps to deliver pressurized water to the fairgrounds. The downstream waters users, called the Fairgrounds Pipeline Group, will be able to use gravity to provide sprinkler presure.

The RTSSD has agreed to contribute to the $600,000 cost of excavation. Meanwhile, irrigators have contributed to the engineering and associated expenses such as diversion to and from the ponds. "It has been a good partnership for all concerned,"Milovich said Wednesday.

Earthwork on the urban fishery is expected to be completed by around the third week in June, Page said.

While the ground is going down on the east side of the arena, high brick structures have been going up on the west side. The walls now in place will house storage and concession stands. According to county building official Dave Levanger, contractors are allowing some time for the mortar to cure before capping the walls with a four-inch layer of concrete.

The concession/storage facilities will serve as a base for the new covered grandstands that will go in later.

The new concession facilities and grandstand are part of a $3 million overhaul of the fairgrounds. Major funding for these projects come from a $1,337,500 grant and an equal amount in loan from the Community Impact Board, $300,000 from the RTSSD and $25,000 from Conoco Phillips.

Improvements include a new rest room between the motocross track and skating pond, new announcer's booth and rodeo gates, a sound system and rewiring of the aging electrical system.

Print Page