Gallatin County Fairgrounds plan for the future, residents weigh in


Gallatin County Fairgrounds plan for the future, residents weigh in 02/19/13

BOZEMAN, Mont. - "I think our community is just an extremely active community."

Gallatin County Fairground Manager Sue Shockley says over its 110 year history, the types of activities folks look to hold at the fairgrounds may have changed but the demand is only growing.

"Lots of proposed projects, the master plan is being reviewed as we speak," Shockley told me.

That master plan outlines projects like the expansion of Haynes Pavilion with a year round ice rink, a new indoor arena able to handle several thousands of people, a new trail system with parks and water features, an ice climbing tower and outdoor amphitheater and an aquatics center.

While many of those projects are a ways off some, like the expansion of Haynes and the trails system, already have traction.

"If we have those facilities, it would bring regional, even national events to our community, which means beds and heads, it means people at restaurants, buying fuel and shopping on Main Street," says Shockley.

Not to mention providing a space for fun, unique events locals can enjoy, says Shockley.  But she says the benefits are two-fold.

"It would make a difference financially for the fairgrounds, they would have to, but any revenue that comes into the fairgrounds stays at the fairgrounds," explains Shockley.

Shockley says that means more improvements to the fairgrounds to create a better facility for Bozeman's community.    

Not everyone is on board with all of the fairgrounds' proposed projects, like some folks who live in the neighborhood next door.

"I'm hoping there's a win-win situation out there," says President of the North East Neighborhood Association Chris Nixon.

I sat down with Nixon to find out residents' concerns.

He says the fairgrounds were a factor when he was looking to buy in Bozeman.

"Ahh, great!  Every summer we can just walk to the fair!"  exclaims Nixon.

Yet, he says a couple of late-night concerts that residents could hear from their homes left a bad taste.

"Every other word was the 'F' word and I didn't go to the concert and I didn't care for it coming to me," explains Nixon.

While Nixon says he hasn't heard any complaints for an indoor arena and another trail system could only be a good thing, he says the ice climbing wall and outdoor amphitheater is cause for concern.

"You want to have to go to it, you don't want it to come to your backyard or into your home," says Nixon.

But folks with the fairgrounds say, they're already looking to make improvements that address concerns like traffic and say the amphitheater would face away from neighborhoods to mitigate noise levels.

"The neighborhood would love to work with the fairgrounds and keeping those lines of communication open are a big plus," says Nixon.

Folks with the fairgrounds say they're ready and willing.

"They're our neighbors and we need to be good neighbors," says Shockley.

For more information about the master plan, you can watch the fairgrounds' new video on YouTube.

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