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With funding secured for short-term repairs, grandstand committee discusses next steps

Grand Forks County is looking at ways to fund the final phase of a three-part repair project for the historic grandstand. On Thursday, Nov. 8 the fairground grandstand committee met to discuss possible grants for a final phase of work on the hist...

Grand Forks County is looking at ways to fund the final phase of a three-part repair project for the historic grandstand.

On Thursday, Nov. 8 the fairground grandstand committee met to discuss possible grants for a final phase of work on the historical grandstand after funding was approved by the Grand Forks County Commission earlier in the week for the second phase.

Emergency repairs were made over the summer for the first part, and the funding approved by county commissioners on Nov. 6 was for the second phase. The three-phase plan of repairs is projected to cost $1 million.

For the second phase of repairs, the county will contribute almost $70,000 of the estimated $85,000 needed to fix the grandstand for the 2019 racing season-- $47,000 from the county's parks fund and $23,000 from the county's general fund.

The fair board committee has committed to putting $15,000 toward preserving the historic landmark in Grand Forks.

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The County Commission has been discussing for several weeks what to do with the grandstand since engineers said it needs repairs to be considered safe for the 2019 season. The grandstand serves as seating for audience members who attend events at the River Cities Speedway on the north end of town.

Engineers suggested it would cost $23.2 million to replace the grandstand by constructing a new fairgrounds outside city limits, though questions arose on how to preserve the historic structure since it was built in the late 1930s. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

The idea of moving the fairgrounds outside city limits was taken off the table and replaced with the three-phase repair plan.

Grand Forks County Commissioner Diane Knauf, who is the chair of the fairground grandstand committee, said Nov. 8 discussion revolved around potential grants to fund final repairs on the grandstand.

But the committee did not find any grants that would support the project.

"We will continue to identify and research potential funding sources," Knauf said.

The committee also requested that engineer Jay Kleven of Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services be asked to provide visuals of the grandstand before and after renovations and review the scope of work for a long-term repair solution.

Kleven will be at the committee's next meeting on Dec. 6 at the County Building.

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