VANDALIA — The Montgomery County Fairgrounds will not be relocating to a Vandalia site along Webster Street. That was the unanimous verdict of the Vandalia City Council on Monday.
While no formal vote was taken, the council concluded that the Fairgrounds would be bad fit for the city citing limited income tax revenue and uncertain costs.
Councilman Bob Ahlers echoed the sentiments of the other six council members saying he had talked to 10-15 residents and not one had positive comments on the proposal.
“The Fairgrounds just doesn’t fit the community,” he said. “They (residents) saw no advantages to the city and in my opinion it would be disruptive to the community. If the costs were being offset or we were gaining something that would be one thing but I’m not hearing that. I’m negative on the issue.”
City Manager Jon Crusey told the council that the 80+ acre site was the “preferred” site of the Montgomery County Agriculture Society. In his weekly letter to council on Friday, Crusey said that the Society’s Executive Director, Greg Wallace, had “indicated they are interested in locating in a community where they are welcome.”
Crusey also said that the Fairgrounds are projected to have four full-time employees which will limit the amount of income tax revenue generated. While the Fairgrounds is interested in building a facility that would host year round events, revenue generated for Vandalia would again be limited.
“Outside of restaurants I’m not sure of tangible benefits to the city,” Crusey said. “We could say Vandalia is home to the Montgomery County Fair.”
It was clear from the council discussion that the welcome mat is not forthcoming.
“I agree with Bob (Ahlers),” said Councilwoman Candace Farst. “I don’t see this as a positive for Vandalia at all.”
Councilman Dave Gerhard said that he saw the project as “additional cost instead of added revenue.”
Councilman Dave Lewis seemed to be the most warm to the proposal but ultimately decided against it.
“The ground is not good on the east side of Webster Street (due to topography) so the Fairgrounds may be a good use of the land,” he said. “But it doesn’t help our citizens and ultimately our responsibility is to them. This is a square peg in a round hole.”
The Agriculture Society has been researching several sites in the county including Brookville, Trotwood, and Huber Heights. Last week county officials announced that the Fairgrounds current property would be sold to the University of Dayton and Premier Health for $15 million.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.