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Napa County offers to lease Fairgrounds to Calistoga for $1 a year

Napa County offers to lease Fairgrounds to Calistoga for $1 a year

Tubbs building

The Tubbs Exhibit Building at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga was named after Chapin F. Tubbs, who was a fair director from 1936 to 1947.

After the City of Calistoga announced last week that due to COVID-19 it would not be purchasing the Napa County Fairgrounds after all, the County of Napa has offered to lease the entire property to the City for $1 per year for the next three years.

In a proposal letter to the city on May 4, the county said it would match the city’s $100,000 deposit currently held in escrow to “jointly begin the process of developing a master plan for the entire 70-acre property.”

In the letter, the county acknowledged that Calistoga residents would like to see recreational and civic activities at the fairgrounds continue. And because the city is already leasing a portion of the property, it would be in the best position to continue management while a master plan is worked out.

The deal would allow the city to manage the golf course, which was not included in the sales agreement, if it so decided.

“Both parties agree now is not the time to move forward with the sale,” said Calistoga City Manager Mike Kirn at a city council meeting on Tuesday. “According to the terms and conditions within the (purchase) agreement, there are still provisions to continue to talk about what happens with the project.”

In August 2019, the City of Calistoga reached an agreement with Napa County to purchase 34.3 acres of the Napa County Fairgrounds property for $7.2 million. But with an expected loss of $4 million in revenue through August, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city authorized termination of the sale at Tuesday’s meeting.

Though the city has been in very good standing financially, with a triple A bond rating, because of future TOT tax projections and the collapse of the bond market, it’s not feasible at this time, Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning said last week.

“It is an amicable agreement with many considerations on both sides,” he said on Tuesday. “When we took our public bonds to market, there was no market for them.”

For the longer term, the county is proposing a master plan consistent with previous negotiations. ‘We contemplate a similar process in partnership with the city,” the letter states.

Kirn said the city hasn’t had time to fully review the offer, but has until June 2 to respond.

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You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or

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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.

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