The Duncan Banner

May 15, 2013

City Council approves lease with fairgrounds

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — The City of Duncan approved a property lease for the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center, but it will be up to Stephens County commissioners to help the fairgrounds expand.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the Duncan City Council heard from Fair & Expo Center Director Mike Anderson and Lonnie Estes, District 2 commissioner, to discuss the fairgrounds need for storage space, as a way to give the fairgrounds room to expand on its own property.

The city-owned land in question is more than 2 acres located to the south east of the fairgrounds. The property has the potential to be used by the Duncan Municipal Airport.

“This is a significant request from the fairgrounds,” Anderson said. “I’ve turned down two events because I didn’t have the room to put them.”

Anderson discussed the potential to bring in the second largest bull riding association in American to the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center. The only problem is he wouldn’t have enough stalls for the event because he wouldn’t have enough room to put them.

He said the association, American Bucking Bulls Inc., could potentially bring $1 million of revenue to Duncan and Stephens County. It could also help to bring in larger events, which could make the fairgrounds more lucrative.

“I have the brass ring in my hand,” Anderson said. “Either we’re going to do something now or forget it.”

By being able to move storage off fairgrounds property — while keeping it close — could help the fairgrounds expand its buildings to allow for bigger events to take place. Anderson and Estes acknowledged it would be up to the Board of Stephens County Commissioners to determine if the fairgrounds will be expanded.

“We’re asking for help,” Estes said. “We’re bringing in $6 million to the county every year, and most of that benefits the City of Duncan.”

City Manager Jim Frieda said the city does get some benefit from the events the fairgrounds bring to Duncan, but he also mentioned how tourism benefits most through the Hotel/Motel Tax.

Frieda said the question would be for the city council to settle on a fair price to lease the property.

When all was determined, the council chose to charge the fairgrounds $1 per year to further promote tourism.

Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn said the property impacted by the lease does have a potential use for future development at the Duncan Municipal Airport. Vaughn said there are no plan to add hangars to that portion of property right now, but said there is always a waiting list of people wanting hanger space.

Because of that, the council did add a termination clause to the lease agreement, which would provide 30 days notice if the city needed the property back for any reason. Anderson and Estes said there wouldn’t be anything permanent located on the property, which would be used solely for storage.

“We cannot build a $200,000 building on lease property,” Anderson said. “It’s not feasible.”

The lease itself is for five year, and would require a security fence to separate that portion of the property from the airport.

“We don’t want to be a road block to bringing something in,” Ritchie Dennington, city councilman, said.