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Delay of Napa County Fairgrounds sale over Speedway 'unfounded'

Delay of Napa County Fairgrounds sale over Speedway 'unfounded'

  • Updated

As a former Napa County Fair Association Director who served on the board for four years, I feel that I must respond to a recently published newspaper story. The article appeared in many local publications and has caused concern on the part of many automobile racing fans and Fairgrounds supporters. The story reported that completing the City of Calistoga's purchase of a portion of the Napa County Fairgrounds could be delayed, although I find the reason cited for the delay to be completely unfounded.

The story asserts that an individual responsible for several alterations to the Calistoga Speedway has claimed that those modifications belong to him and that he wishes to remove them. By law, those modifications belong to Napa County. Napa County and Calistoga city officials surely are aware of the law defining property installed at this facility, which makes the claim of a potential delay puzzling to say the least.

All of the alterations and replacements to the Fairgrounds property were done at the sole discretion of the individual who now seeks to remove them. This individual was not solicited or endorsed by Napa County or the Napa County Fair Association to make changes to the speedway. In fact, that individual made it widely known that he considered the modifications to be a civic contribution.

There is no reason to delay an already very lengthy purchase agreement process. In fact, there are many reasons to complete the sale as expeditiously as possible. In the meantime, a transition business plan to include 2020 rental contracts is long overdue.

The continuing drama that surrounds this beautiful facility only delays the possibility of staging income-producing events and jeopardizes scheduling races in 2020. Both the City and the County should be aware that 2020 facility rental fees as well as RV income derived from scheduled events are now at least questionable.

It is also my understanding that the Napa County Fair Association, which did not have its contract renewed by the County, also is claiming that property on the Fairgrounds belongs to them. Once again, I cannot logically identify any reason the Association would be entitled to this property. The Association served as an administrator of the business requirements needed to run the facility. They did this as volunteer directors with a paid CEO on behalf of the County. All purchases and expenditures were paid by income produced by the Fairgrounds and various grants. In addition, many items were provided by well-meaning people to enhance the fairgrounds' ability to produce events. These items are not permanent and should be returned to the individuals providing them. None of these items would have been provided or purchased without the Association being provided use of County property. I doubt very much that the Fair Association donated any of their personal income to obtain or purchase the items they now wish to sell.

A transition business plan should be put in place immediately to preserve revenue in 2020 and the sale completed without unfounded delays so that the people of Calistoga, the Napa Valley and visitors can once again enjoy this historic facility.

Bonnie Chisholm

Former Napa County Fair Association Board Member

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