Old fairground grandstands coming down
MANTI — Citing “recent strong wind storms” that damaged and weakened the old Sanpete County Fairgrounds grandstand so as to make it a “danger to bystanders,” the Sanpete County Commission has ordered the historic stands torn down. Demolition started Tuesday.
The original plan was to reinforce the stands, built in the early 1920s, and use them through the 2017 county fair while new stands were being erected in a different part of the fairgrounds.
But after severe wind storms the week of May 22-25, the plan had to change, commissioners decided in an emergency meeting last Friday, May 26.
During the storm, witnesses saw the entire roof structure on the grandstand lift off its supports and slam back down on the pillars. Afterward, shards of broken lumber and hundreds of nails were found strewn around the fairgrounds.
Commissioner Steve Lund, who accompanied engineers on inspection, said that the entire roof structure, not just the tin sections, had separated from the support pillars. He said the entire grandstand structure is tied together by the roof and now is in danger of collapse.
Sanpete County Attorney Brody Kiesel, said that the damage from the wind storm brought to light the possibility of a “catastrophic event.”
If such a catastrophe occurred, he said, he could see a plaintiff arguing that negligence by the county was “more than reckless” and could be classed as “intentional.” In such a situation, the county’s insurance carrier would not have to cover the injuries, and all of the liability would fall to the county.
Commission Chairwoman Claudia Jarrett asked what the next steps were. Garrick Willden of Jones and Demille Engineering, the county’s consulting engineering company, answered that the county needed to find a contractor to tear down the grandstand. He said some items, such as lights and the sound system, would need to be removed first, and ideally, quite a few things connected with the stands could be salvaged.
Jarrett asked fair chairman Mike Bennett whether there would be a arena for the fair this year. He answered that the fair would have to rely on temporary bleachers and said he had already contacted Moroni City about borrowing some bleachers.
However, limited seating in the borrowed bleachers would mean a loss of ticket sales for the fair, which was already operating on a very tight budget, he said. He said that the fair board was considering raising prices to try to make up for some of the losses.
Jarrett then asked how soon the grandstand would have to come down. It was pointed out that a day camp for Cub Scouts throughout the county was scheduled at the fairgrounds the weekend of June 3-4. So Willden said demolition needed to occur before June 2.
Jarrett directed Bennett to call county road director Steve Keller to find out if county employees could do the knock-down. Kiesel directed Bennett to mark the area with caution tape and said extra there extra sheriff patrols of the area would be arranged.
The commission approved a resolution to demolish the grandstands as soon as practical.