Compromise should be within reach for city, Fair Association

Most of the time when Rockdale residents got concerned about “contract language” it had to do with contract negotiations between Alcoa and United Steelworkers.

There’s a new dilemma about contract language but this time the parties are different, the City of Rockdale and the Rockdale Fair Association (RFA).

For 35 years the RFA has been purchasing property and building structures at Fair Park. The city owns Fair Park. So RFA has donated all of those improvements to the city.

There has never been a formal document spelling out the relationship between the city and the RFA. Both parties feel it’s probably a good idea to have one and that’s a prudent approach. But they came to an impasse of sorts.

RFA wants language in the document assuring that if the city ever disposes of land or structures crucial to the fair being held at Fair Park, or renders them “unusable” by the RFA, it has some protection.

Here’s the background. In 2005 the city council, after a series of intense discussions and against the desires of the RFA, allowed a skate park to be built on land donated by the association, previously used for overflow parking.

RFA members, citing that precedent, worry what would happen in the—admittedly, extremely unlikely—event critical portions of the park would either be sold or given away, resulting in the fair’s cancellation.

Then, according to the RFA, directors, who sign their names on notes which sometimes take years to retire, they’d be left with no way to pay off the debt. The RFA’s only source of revenue is—of course—the fair.

They also point out lenders have been less likely to lend RFA money since the council action in 2005.

It should be a no-brainer to accommodate the RFA’s request. With the support of area businesses, that organization has channeled $3,586,615 to area youth over the past 35 years and provided a giant economic boost to this community every third weekend in October.

And what do they want? Only to keep doing it.—M.B.

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2011-05-19 digital edition

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