TOWN OF POLK — Washington County Fair Park should have a private hotel attached to it and County Supervisor Donald Kriefall wants its management team to look for a hospitality chain willing to build one there.
Right now, Fair Park’s events draw locally, Kriefall said, with a hotel Fair Park would become a regional draw.
“That way they would be completely off the levy really quickly,” Kriefall said.
Washington County owns the facilities at Fair Park, which it leases to the private nonprofit Washington County Agriculture and Industrial Society Inc. to operate. Each year, the county provides AIS financial support for the County Fair. In 2013 that tax levy amount was $77,857. This year, the levy contribution is $77,077. In 2012, the levy contribution was $343,398.
County Supervisor Timothy Michalak suggested that the hotel would have to be built close enough and linked to Fair Park’s facilities to allow people to easily access both ways regardless of the weather.
Executive Director Sandy Lang of the Washington County Agriculture and Industrial Society Inc., which manages Fair Park for the county, said the lack of an adjacent hotel has at times hindered the facility’s ability to attract larger conventions.
If a privately owned hotel could be brought to Fair Park, it would need 100 rooms, Lang said after the meeting, which would likely cost in the $8 million-$10 million range to construct.
But it’s not just room availability that is a factor, she said, conventioneers are looking for a hotel with full-service restaurant and bar. At this time, no hotel in Washington County has an attached restaurant, she said.
AIS has not been contacted by any hotel operation about building at Fair Park, Lang told the committee Tuesday. “To get something here we need to reach out,” Kriefall said. “This is something we need to talk about.”
“These are all things to think about,” County Supervisor Marilyn Merten said. She is from the town of Polk and is the committee chairwoman.