Improvements planned at county fairgrounds

Improvement to the existing pavement and parking areas at the Anoka County Fairgrounds are proposed to take place before the 2012 Anoka County Fair opens in late July.

The Anoka County Board, on the recommendations of its Public Works Committee, has approved a professional services agreement with the Hakanson Anderson engineering firm in the amount of $24,810 for project design, preparing plans and specifications, bid letting and constructions administration, inspection and surveying.

The project will include seven road and parking segments.

According to Doug Fischer, county highway engineer, the proposed project would remove the pavement that is in fair or poor condition and replace it with a new bituminous mat.

Where existing pavement is in good condition, a simple overlay is planned, while paving some existing gravel areas is also proposed, Fischer said.

But Hakanson Anderson, as part of its study, will look at both “recommended” and “lower cost” alternatives, a letter from the company to the county highway department states.

County highway department personnel inspected the road and parking area conditions at the fairgrounds and made recommendations on what improvements should be made, Fischer said.

Fischer is estimating that it will cost up to $300,000 to do the proposed upgrades, Fischer said.

“But the budget is fluid,” he said.

According to Fischer, the project would need to go out for bids in May in order to get the work complete before the July 24 start of the Anoka County Fair.

According to County Commissioner Matt Look, who along with County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, represent the county board on the Anoka County Fair Board, the impetus for the project came from an incident at the fairgrounds last year.

An infant in a stroller who was not strapped in was jettisoned when the stroller hit a rut in the pavement, Look said.

No lawsuit resulted, but it is a project that needs to get done, he said.

The county will be picking up the cost of the project, but not from the highway department budget.

Instead, the money will come from funds left over from general obligation bonds sold for county road and bridge projects.

According to Cevin Petersen, county finance and central services director, the bond money is available because bids for a couple of recent county road projects came in under budget and the amount for which the bonds were sold.

But there is a requirement that the left-over bond money be used specifically for road and bridge projects, Petersen said.

For future infrastructure needs at the fairgrounds, the fair board is considering setting up a specific fund from dollars paid by cities for having a booth at the county fair, Look said.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]