The City of Calistoga will hold an open community forum on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Community Center to discuss the City’s role in the creation of a Joint Powers Agency that would oversee the Napa County Fairgrounds.

Since October 2016, officials from the City of Calistoga and County of Napa, including two elected officials and key staff persons from each, have met to discuss the possible creation of a joint powers agency to oversee and govern the property commonly known as the Fairgrounds, officials said.

The Fairgrounds property is owned by the County of Napa and is located within the city limits of Calistoga. The Fairground has various uses that effect the Calistoga community and both the city and county “believe it is important that Napa County and Calistoga have joint governance over the Fairgrounds through the creation of a Joint Powers Agency,” said Dylan Feik, city manager in a statement. “The parties are committed to the following: making the Fairgrounds economically viable; providing long term land stewardship, and; addressing outstanding liabilities and concerns related to maintenance, operations and public use.

“The City of Calistoga invites you to join us for a brief presentation and provide input/comments to city officials before a formal JPA agreement is considered. Community input/feedback is an important piece of this year-long effort to develop a new governance model for the Fairgrounds and input/feedback will be presented to the Napa County Board of Supervisors and Calistoga City Council in the near future,” he said.

The Napa County Fair Association (NCFA) presented the JPA prospect about a year ago following a series of discussions and analysis of a commissioned report to assess the Fairgrounds’ options.

The NCFA board and Carlene Moore, CEO of the Fairgrounds, have come under harsh criticism with some calling for the resignation or firing of Moore, and a change in the board.

Critics contend there is a deterioration of the Fairgrounds, the annual Fourth of July Fair, and other entities, such as the golf course, that fall under the purview of Moore and the NCFA board.

Supporters argue that Moore and the board are doing what they can to recover the loss of state revenue that disappeared a handful of years ago, and have made slow, but purposeful moves they hope will be long-term and sustaining such as ENGAGE – part of Arts in April – which was restructured to feed into events later in the year and bringing in more revenue.

NCFA operates on a five-year contract with Napa County that limits its prospects to find partners to manage such business units as the Mt. St. Helena Golf Course, which is on the Fairgrounds property and has been a sour subject with golfers for more than a year now due to poor conditions on the course.

NCFA would welcome a professional course operator, but contends that management companies are reluctant to take over the course without a long-term contract, something the NCFA is unable to do due to the current governance structure.

Moore and the NCFA are kept in a holding pattern while the JPA is being negotiated, and they have also acknowledged that the board and the CEO position as it is now, may be totally dismantled by the terms or outcome of the JPA.

For questions about the Community Forum or the JPA, contact Dylan Feik, city manager, at dfeik@ci.calistoga.ca.us, or 707-942-2806.

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