Three members of the Bremer County Fair Association Board asked the county board of supervisors on Monday morning for financial support for the upcoming fair and expressed their gratitude for the county’s ongoing efforts to work with them.
The $20,000 ask has remained steady for years, the supervisors acknowledged.
“It has been the same since before I became a supervisor,” said Dewey Hildebrandt, one of the supervisors.
But after a review of the annual budget highlights, which the fair board provided in a written form, the conversation turned to a much more existential topic: the fair’s future in the midst of an uncertain future for the Champions Ridge project, the planned site for the fair and the ball diamonds on the west side of Waverly.
In anticipation of Monday night’s Waverly City Council review of the fundraising for Champions Ridge, which fell short by 11 percent in raising the $1 million mandated by the city by the 2018 deadline, but has since picked up steam, climbing to roughly $50,000 short of the mark, fair board members spoke candidly and vocally about their frustration with the process.
The fair has done everything the city has asked of it, Pat Reiher, the fair association president, Danny Buls, the treasurer, and Chris Dix, the secretary, argued in summary.
Yet, the city holds the deed for the purchase, they all noted.
City Attorney Bill Werger told Waverly Newspapers earlier that the deed would be released when the conditions of the contract, of which the payment is only one part, are fulfilled.
Buls, the fair association treasurer, read that very quote from the paper’s coverage during the meeting in response to a question from Gaylord Hinderaker, a former supervisor and the only member of the public who was present at the Monday morning supervisors meeting.
The city and the fair board association signed a five-year contract on Oct. 25, 2013, regarding the 40.35 acres of land, which is now owned by the city and is a portion of the 142-acre Neil Smith farm. The remainder of the land is to be used for softball diamonds and other soon-to-be-determined purposes.
According to the contract, the fair was to make five installments of $88,770 over the length the contract for a total of $443,850 with zero down payment and with no interest on the remaining balance. The city agreed to forgive $120,000 of that amount if the county contributed a matching sum. That left the fair board with a balance of $203,850, payable over five years. The fair board has paid their portion of the balance a year ahead of schedule.
According to an addendum in the contract between the city and the fair board association, which was signed under Mayor Bob Brunkhorst, if the buyer is unable to move to the new site by February 2019 (a year’s extension was later granted through February 2020) the seller shall have the right to repurchase the property and cancel the contract by paying the buyer all principal paid “plus all costs of improvements that Buyer has invested in the property. The payback amount shall not include any credit given for the City match to the County contribution.”
In the fair paperwork presented to the supervisors, the city’s final $90,000 credit is listed in red and, shows as “pending.”
Hinderaker kept asking why the city is holding the deed after the fair has paid its obligations and the supervisors had matched their portion.
“It seems like a very unusual way to do business,” Hinderaker said.
“It is very troubling for us, too,” said Hildebrandt.
Hinderaker questioned why area banks are not more involved in the project.
“Why you folks have not been leaning on the banks?” he asked. “Tell the banks to step up.”
Buls answered that he was surprised the project has not received the support from Waverly banks even though the fair association does business with one of them.
He added that Sumner’s banks and Veridian Credit Union have pitched in.
Supervisor Tim Neil had another comment:
“Why do they keep passing one-sided resolutions?” he asked, referring to the mandate to the fundraising campaign to reach a million-dollar goal by the end of 2018.
Asked if they were prepared to move forward with the fair’s relocation to Champion’s Ridge if they were the only entity there, both Buls and Dix affirmed the fair was ready to do so.
“We can make that happen but it will be a significant loss of time and effort,” Buls said.
“This has the potential to grow the city beyond what they envisioned,” Dix said of the benefits of the project.
“We need to keep moving forward,” said Reihner, the fair board president.
Buls, the treasurer, added he hopes the plan to build Champions Ridge as a joint project between the softball association and the fair board stays intact. In the meantime, he added, the fair may need another extension to stay in Memorial Park.
“It’s a good project; it’s just taken a little bit longer,” Buls said.