Riley County commissioners agreed on Thursday on a plan to move forward with a task force to study potential relocation of the Riley County Fairgrounds and will send letters to 10 organizations to garner interest.
Commissioners spent time Thursday discussing the makeup of the task force. John Ford noted he believes it should be entirely citizen driven.
Agenda materials noted 15 potential nominees for the board, including former commissioners, members of the fair and extension boards, as well as Manhattan, USD 383 and K-State College of Agriculture representatives among others.
Commission Chair Kathryn Focke says the goal is for the task force to advise commissioners on the community’s best interest.
Commissioner Greg McKinley noted in Thursday’s meeting that USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden Schools are interested in acquiring Riley County’s interests in CiCo Park. Assistant Superintendent Eric Reid confirmed that via email to KMAN Thursday.
“Yes, the district is interested in expanding it’s property at CiCo to expand athletic facilities there, but it hasn’t gone any further than letting county officials know of our interest,” he said.
Ford says from the county’s perspective, the question is whether it makes sense to invest in the current fairgrounds facilities or start over somewhere else.
Riley County Extension Director Gary Fike, who was floated as a likely member to chair the new task force, told commissioners at their Feb. 27 meeting that current facilities, including Pottorf Hall are heavily used and in need of repair. He also noted outdated facilities where livestock are kept during the fair and limitations on space for vendors and competitors.
One potential site that’s been floated as a possible new site for the fairgrounds is on KSU Foundation property near a planned new livestock arena near the Stanley Stout Center.
The City of Manhattan has also targeted this year for a pre-design public input period for planned CiCo Park improvements funded from the city’s quarter-cent sales tax. Deputy City Manager Jason Hilgers noted in an email to KMAN Thursday that those funds are specifically earmarked to renovate the ball diamonds on the northeast side of CiCo Park as well as replace the existing tennis courts with 12 new ones.
Anderson Knight Architects has renderings of a reimagined CiCo Park, included in Thursday’s Riley County meeting agenda materials, showing facilities that include a potential new aquatics center, field house and expanded parking space.
Hilgers says those are just concepts created by the architectural firm, not at the direction or prompting of the City of Manhattan, Riley County or USD 383, aimed at generating discussion and possible outcomes.