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Calistoga grass roots effort pushes for Napa County Fairgrounds sale

Tubbs building

Calistoga's purchase of the Napa County Fairgrounds is on hold due to financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 150 residents of Calistoga — and counting — have signed up for a newsletter devoted to moving the sale of the Napa County Fairgrounds forward.

Nearly a done deal, the sale stalled last year when the pandemic hit and Calistoga’s financial stability plummeted. The city still has a handshake deal with the county to purchase it, but over the past year residents have watched in dismay as the property has deteriorated.

“The county doesn’t have much incentive to do anything (to the property). It hasn’t been a high enough priority,” said Scott Atkinson, one of the founders of the new Friends of the Napa County Fairgrounds website (https://www.friendsofnapacountyfairgrounds.com/), along with Molly Towey and Alexis Shoemate. “You can just drive by there and see that it’s deteriorating from lack of use. We don’t want to let it go to where it’s so far gone that it can’t be brought back, financially, without just throwing tons and tons of money at it. We want it to get back to being the community asset that it really is.”

The number of residents getting on the bandwagon has been growing daily, Atkinson said, and that’s mostly by word of mouth and social media.

The website includes the names and email addresses of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, along with Calistoga city officials, and encourages those interested to write letters in support of the sale. So far, there hasn’t been much of a response, Atkinson said.

“Our Board of Supervisors is probably not the most responsive, especially when it comes to issues Upvalley. That’s why we’re gaining a support base. Just like any politician, the more people contact them, the more they have the tendency to actually listen,” he said. “We don’t want to take away from whatever else the board or city council has on their plate, but we don’t want this to sit for another 10 years.”

Whereas the agreement between the city and the county included the sale of everything except the golf course, the group is also pushing for the sale of the entire property.

Atkinson said residents see a lot of potential for the property, and have volunteered ideas and information on what it would take to make the Fairgrounds profitable for the city and beneficial to residents. Ideas include bringing classic Airstream clubs to the RV Park and bringing back junior and high school golf clubs.

“It’s really a jewel, and that can be said about a lot of elements of the fairgrounds,” Atkinson said. “We’re trying to make it a win-win for everybody.”

A heartwarming day in the life at The Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga during COVID.

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor

Cynthia Sweeney has been editor of The Weekly Calistogan since July, 2018. Previously, she was a reporter for the St. Helena Star, and North Bay Business Journal. She also spent a significant amount of time freelancing in Hawaii.

Related to this story

As the City of Calistoga prepared financial arrangements for the purchase of the Napa County Fairgrounds, and was looking at a long list of expensive repairs and upgrades to the neglected property, a potential deal-breaker arose in a dispute over $1.4 million in upgrades made to the Speedway by local racing supporter David Abreu. 

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