Pending park and city authorization to access Memorial Park arena grounds from Olive Street, the Gasconade County Fair Association has voted to purchase a nearly 9-acre tract of ground which includes …
Pending park and city authorization to access Memorial Park arena grounds from Olive Street, the Gasconade County Fair Association has voted to purchase a nearly 9-acre tract of ground which includes 10 mobile home rental sites. Nine of the homes are currently occupied by their owners.
Mike Miller and Tom Lahmeyer acquired the former “Grove” trailer park on Sept. 19. Residents of rental sites there were notified Oct. 1 they could pay their pad rental fees to the new owners, according to Kay Lacy who has lived there 20 years.
Draft minutes from the Fair Association’s Oct. 17 meeting reflect a unanimous vote to purchase the property, according to Cheryl Schlottach, the group’s secretary. “Nobody spoke up too much against it,” she said.
The motion by Terrick Ellis was to buy the site for $130,000 “when city easements or other conditions (or variances) are met,” Schlottach said. Barb Feagan seconded the motion.
Schlottach said Fair Association members want approval from park and city officials that there is road access from the dead-end section of Olive Street down to the arena area. The group also wants assurances tractor-trailer parking for tractor-pullers or other competitors would be allowed in the area during special events like the fair or other Association-sponsored, or hosted, fund-raisers. If a zoning variance is needed, they intent to obtain the necessary approval before the sale is finalized.
While Miller and Lahmeyer have both been active in Fair Association committee functions for many years, Schlottach noted they were not in this deal for profit.
“They’re just passing it along,” she said of the planned purchase. “They’re just helping the Fair and the Park along.”
Annette Pfeiffer, the Fair Association’s former secretary for 10 years and a current member of the Board of Director, said at least 20 members were in attendance for the motion and vote. The board includes 24 members and four executives including Nick Baxter who serves as president.
Baxter said Tuesday the Association was already trying to obtain the easement to put a road in from Olive down to the arena area. The property which is “a little less than nine acres” lays between the park and behind Medley Pharmacy and an adjoining shopping center, said Baxter.
“We are going forward on the paperwork so eventually we can get it purchased,” said Baxter. “It is for the fair to give us more room near the fairgrounds.”
He added that the price is still being negotiated on the property.
“It’s been in bankruptcy so we were first on the list if it came out of bankruptcy,” Baxter said. “We had to get our stuff in order to purchase it. Probably be a couple months.”
He explained that the Gasconade County Fair Foundation is a 501c3 organization. Gasconade County Fair Association not a (c)3 organization.
“The Fair Association will be purchasing the property,” he said. “The Foundation raises money, and the Association runs the fair like a business.”
Baxter noted that Miller has been cleaning up the property over the past month. He has removed several dilapidated mobile homes and has been clearing off stumps and brush on the east end of the site on behalf of the Fair Association.
It’s (the deal is) very close to being done. They (the bank) knows we are going to take it, we just have to get the paperwork done.
“Now it is moving forward,” said Baxter. “How fast, I cannot say, I’m not on that committee. We do know how much it is going to cost within a certain parameter, but not exactly.
“We know we are taking the property, (the) bank knows we are taking the property and had an opportunity to clean it up before bad weather hits. If we wait, and then can’t get things done, then it is July and we haven’t gotten anywhere. Most of the work we do is volunteer. If you had a chance to get it taken care of — we take it. We have a chance to do something, we gotta do it. If you don’t and we wait, no one has the time to do it.”
Owensville’s newly formed Parks Commission heard a request Monday from Miller and Lahmeyer as representatives of the Fair Association to begin the process of obtaining an easement from Olive into the park for a road.
“There’s a process that’s going to have to happen,” said Deputy City Clerk Peggy Farrell who serves as recording secretary for the Parks Commission and the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. “We just need to make sure the Parks Commission is on board. (Parks Commission member) Manny (Medeiros) will invite Tom and Mike back to the next Commission meeting on Nov. 25.”
Farrell said there will need to be legal descriptions drawn up for any easement which is proposed. She noted that Lahmeyer chairs the P&Z Commission and is well aware of the process involved.
Lahmeyer is listed as a member of the Fair Association’s Board of Directors. He also chairs the Lower Field and Lunch Stand Tickets committees along with serving as co-chair of the Scholarship Committee. He is also a member of the Budget, Building and Grounds, Entertainment, and Livestock committees.
Miller is a member of the Lower Field Committee and helps with a great deal of the excavation and earthwork for events that take place down in the arena.
Miller said Tuesday he and Lahmeyer purchased the property so the Fair Association could purchase it from them.
“We are not making a dime on it, we are selling it for what we purchased for,” Miller said. “It took so long to get the paperwork straightened out. I have been keeping an eye on it for over two years, checking in with the bank. When it came due, we bought it. The reason we did that is because if we waited, someone could have bought it out from underneath us, and charged the fair board more money.”
The same day they closed on the property from a bank in Steelville, they presented it to the fair board to buy, said Miller. Before the fair board commits to the purchase, they want to make sure the city will allow a road easement.
“We are waiting on the easement on the road from the city,” Miller said.
A road used to be located behind the derby field that connected to the property, he said.
“It was gravel and built sometime in the 1920s and 30s,” Miller said. “We want to put it back in there and make it nice. Open it back up.”
Miller said they also offered to clear some of the woods near the walking path while they were there with woodcutters and equipment.
“It is whatever the city wants to do, as long as we get a road over there,” Miller said.
The purpose of the purchase is to hopefully help with parking during the fair, Miller added.
“We want the fair board to have it to help get rid of congestion on Friday and Saturday, so more people and pedestrians can park there easier,” Miller said. “Also, Wednesday and Thursday, people can park, walk right over to the back gate and come in.”
Miller said he has been working to clear the property, and plans to allow the people living there to stay there.
Baxter, too, said the current residents of the mobile home park will have the opportunity to remain there.
“We are using the ground on the top where it is flat,” Baxter said. “Once it’s done, if the people remain, they will have a choice of staying or moving out. Then the fair board will collect pad rents. Don’t know if people will stay once the fair board is the landlord.”
Lacy, who owns her mobile home and his lived there for 20 years, expressed concerns about the clearing of trees and brush near her site. Her site backs up to the woods where the newest section of the park’s walking trail is located.
“It’s a beautiful location,” said Lacy. “There’s a lot of shade here.”
She enjoys watching small animals during the winter forage for berries in the brush adjoining her lot.
She is worried about finding another affordable rental site, and the potential cost of moving her mobile home, if clearing continues around her rental pad.
There are currently 10 mobile resident-owned mobile homes on the property. Nine of them are occupied including seven on the south side of Olive and two on the north, or park, side.