Boone County signs three-year contract to 'buy time' for old fairgrounds

Veterans United, UPS will continue to use it

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Boone County Commission will sign a three-year contract with Veterans United Home Loans and UPS manage the former fairgrounds.

Veterans United and UPS have been using the property for events and storage since the fairground, now known as the Central Missouri Events Center, was shuttered in 2016. 

Boone County Southern District Commissioner Fred Parry said the county does not have the funds to manage the property it purchased back in 1999. 

"While it's great to have this type of a property in the public trust, it was a mistake for the commission to purchase," Parry said after the commission voted to approve the contract Tuesday.

Parry hopes after the three-year contract is over, the county will have an idea of how to use the space for public recreation.

In the contract, Veterans United will allow the Boone County Fair to be held on the property free of charge with a $10,000 damage deposit, but the property isn't quite ready for the fair to come back.

"There will be some work that needs to be done on the grandstands as well as the livestock barns, but all-in-all it's an ideal property for the Boone County Fair grounds," Parry said.

The fair moved to Sturgeon three years ago after the county shuttered the property. The move to close the events center came after voters rejected a tax increase to pay for its operation.

Parry said Veterans United has put up most of the more than $300,000 spent on the upkeep and renovation of the Central Missouri Events Center.

While there is no formal process to submit ideas or proposals yet, Parry said the commission wants ideas from the community about how best to use the property.

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