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FATE OF PAVILION HINGES ON CASH

By BILL LUNDQUIST

GOLD BEACH – The Youth Pavilion at the Event Center on the Beach has only four months left before it is demolished – unless a proposed working group is assembled and achieves a financial miracle.

The building, once known as the Livestock Pavilion, sits on what was once known as the Curry County Fairgrounds.

About a third of its roof was blown off several years ago during an El Nino winter storm. The rest of the rusting roof could follow suit at any time.

Attempts to save the building, including a failed bond measure and a patchwork repair, have proved fruitless.

Thursday night, Fair Board member Les Walker, who has led efforts to save the building during the past year, made a motion for demolition.

He asked that the board vote to demolish the building on or before Oct. 1, unless it receives a pledge of $250,000 to save the building before that date.

Board members Dick Bendtzen, David Hoenie and Cherie Mitchell voted with Walker.

Longtime board members David Smith and Viola Cuatt voted against the motion.

After setting the deadline, however, all board members vowed to leave no stone unturned during the next four months in a last-ditch attempt to save the building.

They will look for volunteers to form a working group similar to the ones that saved the county's Animal Control Department and Public Health Department.

"The motion to demolish doesn't preclude doing everything we can to save it," said Bendtzen.

Walker made his motion after a report from Oregon State University (OSU) 4-H Club Extension Agent Doug Hart.

Hart said several meetings had been held during recent months on the state of the Youth Pavilion and options to save it.

"The bottom line," he said, "is that it wouldn't be feasible or appropriate to use Extension Service District money to invest in the pavilion."

He said under state laws, a long-term flexible lease would be the only option where district money could be used on the building. He said there would still not be enough money to save the building.

Hart said 4-H Club leaders will meet Monday. He said the district still wants to work with them and with the Fair Board to find a solution.

"If we can't give it away to OSU or the extension district," said Walker, "what are we going to do with it?"

Fair Manager Ron Crook said the Ford Family Foundation has pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars in Myrtle Point. He said the board has only $25,000 so far for the Youth Pavilion. He said if the foundation would pledge a significant amount, it would be a major incentive for local people to contribute.

Bendtzen, chairman of the Fair Board, said he never wrote an application letter to the foundation because of the short time frame to save the building, and because it is not clear what the restored building would be used for.

Mitchell said a grass-roots effort would have to be in place before asking the foundation for money.

Walker said, "It doesn't look like after a year there is enough interest and money to carry on with the building."

Curry County Commissioner Rachelle Schaaf, liaison to the Fair Board, said "What is the purpose for the building?"

She said the multi-purpose buildings at the Event Center earn their keep. She asked what the Youth Pavilion would be saved for, besides being used by the 4-H Club for a few days a year.

Walker said, "4-H does not need that scope of a building for five days a year."

Bendtzen said without the building, the fair couldn't have small-animal entries. He asked if that might affect state funding to the fair.

Crook said it wouldn't affect state funding, but would affect the success of the fair. He said the fair would lose the 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America.

Smith said, "If we lose that building, we will lose the fair."

Walker was more concerned about holding another fair with the building in its decrepit condition. "It looks like a mess," he said. "It's bad PR. It's a blight on the fair, rusting around us. It's a real eyesore."

Hart said it may also be unsafe, posing a liability problem for the county.

Schaaf said, "If you believe the building is absolutely essential for the survival of the fair, I recommend you get a working group together, the small-animals people."

"Make it happen," she said. "Set benchmarks. Maybe you'll decide you need three more small-animal shows a year to bring in more money. You need a plan for the building."

"The big picture," said Hart, "is ‘what does the fair look like?' It will make a big difference in the look of the fair."

He said the fair couldn't have livestock without a livestock facility. The building could also be used for fall horse shows and other animal shows.

"We could make a regional livestock center here," he said, "and use it more than one week a year."

Hoenie said the building's 20,000 square feet of enclosed space could be used for car shows and other purposes. He was not comfortable setting a deadline for demolition, and suggested looking at the progress of the working group in three months.

Walker wanted to "put our foot to the coals," set the deadline and form the working group.

"You've explored a lot of options" said Schaaf, "but it just hasn't jelled. There isn't a plan for that building."

"It has to be a community solution," said Bendtzen, "not from this board."

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