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The Jefferson County Fair Board has released a draft plan for Recreation Park near Boulder, home of the Jefferson County Fair since 1984.

Development of the 35-page plan began in December 2017. Highest priority was given to maintenance and upgrades of the buildings currently on site, including the 38-year-old arena, as well as additional parking and acquisition of new land. The Fair Board expects the plan to guide park priorities through the next decade.

Recreation Park’s 21 acres originally served as the grounds of the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The state Legislature transferred ownership of the land to Jefferson County in 2005 on the condition that revenue generated on-site is used for the park.

In addition to maintenance and upgrades, high priority is assigned to finding new playground equipment over the next three to five years. The board noted that current equipment falls short of safety standards and “is not generally as attractive to young children today as it was in the past.”

New facilities also are in mind. The plan notes “significant interest” in a multi-purpose building for events such as “rodeos, concerts, athletics and civic gatherings.” The draft plan specifically includes a $1.6 million estimate for a steel building of 28,800 square feet.

The plan outlines potential funding sources to limit burdening county taxpayers, mainly from the Tourism Grants Program of the state Department of Commerce and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. An appendix also discusses charging fees at park events to fund maintenance, which apparently received “substantial” favor in a resident survey.

The Jefferson County Commission will vote on the plan in March. 

County Fair Board chair Terry Minow was unavailable for comment Friday.

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