Fair wants to put in concession/restroom building, but funding uncertain and cost has doubled

 MANTI—The Sanpete County Fairboard would like to move ahead on a building containing a ticket booth, a concessions stand and restrooms, the final major item on a fairgrounds master plan completed more than five years ago, the fair chairman told the Sanpete County Commission last week.

At a meeting Tuesday, May 19, Mike Bennett, the fair chairman, said the estimated cost of the building had nearly doubled in the past year and a half.

Commissioner Scott Bartholomew, the commission chairman, said funding for the project might become available after the first of June. But he said nothing was certain quite yet.

A few days later, in an interview, Kevin Daniels, county attorney and counsel to the commission, said the commission was looking at using money the county expects to receive from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus measure passed early in the Biden administration.

“We will get the money,” Daniels said. “It’s just what we can use it for….No decisions have been made. It really depends on what the stipulations [on use of the funds] say.”

Garrick Willden, a senior engineer with Jones and Demille who has been involved with fairgrounds planning and improvements since 2013, told the commission the fairgrounds master plan called for a structure containing the concession stand and restrooms to be attached to the back (north side) of the new grandstand, which was installed in 2017.

Willden said his firm had recently engineered another restroom/shower building about the same size as the proposed fairgrounds building.

“It was block, expensive block, so it was about $400 a square foot,” he said. “We estimate this [building] would be closer to $300 [per square foot], so about $720,000.”

But Willden said that figure didn’t include about $25,000 that Jones and Demille would need to charge for final design, putting together the bid package and overseeing construction. And, he said, Jones and Demille had already used other consultants to help design the heating and air conditioning. That consulting bill needs to be paid.

“So we’re looking at $750,000,” Bartholomew said.

“It was only $369,000 a year and a half ago,” Mike Bennett, the fair chairman said.

“And right now, it’s a question of, number one, contractors—if you can find a contractor to do it,” Willden said. “And number two, if they can then turn around and find the materials to build it.”

Bennett said lack of restrooms poses a particular problem for the 2021 county fair.

Up through 2019, the Mormon Miracle Pageant owned two large trailers containing restrooms. The pageant loaned them to the fair each year.

The last Mormon Miracle Pageant was in 2019. After the fair used the trailers that year, they were sent to another location. In 2020, the fair was cancelled because of the new coronavirus.

“It really put the fair in a bind when those…pageant trailers went away,” Willden said.

“You better get your portapotties ordered now,” Bartholomew said.

Bennett said renting portapotties would cost $15,000, which he described as a “huge expense,” relative to the limited revenue the fair receives from the county.