Proposal for Fairgrounds Improvements
For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 19, 2015
Hillsboro, Washington County Seek to Expand Partnership at Fair Complex
Building upon a decades-long partnership to provide great community recreation services at the Washington County Fair Complex site, the City of Hillsboro and Washington County are excited to announce a proposed expansion of that long-standing partnership to increase recreation and tourism opportunities that benefit residents and local businesses.
In the proposed agreement, the City of Hillsboro will spend up to $2 million to build an urban recreational vehicle (RV) park on five acres of land owned and operated by Washington County. In exchange, the City of Hillsboro will receive ownership of 15 acres of recreational space at the fairgrounds that the City of Hillsboro has managed and maintained as sports fields for the past 40 years. By placing responsibility for the sports fields' future in the hands of the City of Hillsboro, both agencies will ensure that the recreational amenities are available for residents to enjoy for years to come, while Washington County will provide a public RV park to meet a need in the community. The agreement must be approved by both the Washington County Board of Commissioners and the Hillsboro City Council.
"This partnership makes sense for everyone," said Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey. "The City can invest in the ballfields to improve the user experience for local families, and create new opportunities for hosting a variety of youth and adult sports. Meanwhile, Washington County secures the City's help in building the urban RV park, creating a regional destination for RV owners, boosting businesses that benefit from tourism, and giving visitors another great option while enjoying the fair."
"This is a great opportunity for our community and our partnership with the City of Hillsboro," said Andy Duyck, chair of the Washington County Board of Commissioners. "In keeping with the work of the Fairgrounds Revitalization Task Force six years ago, we have focused on a long-term vision for the fairgrounds to ensure economic viability for traditional and new uses that benefit the public countywide. This project fits squarely within those goals by offering to improve and expand the recreational options offered at the fairgrounds."
The expanded partnership builds upon previous work in the Fair Complex area, including the construction of Veterans Drive and the Veterans Gateway. In 2008, the 15-member Washington County Fairgrounds Revitalization Task Force recommended a master plan for the fairgrounds property in collaboration with the City of Hillsboro, Fair Board and various community stakeholders. With guidance from the Fairgrounds Advisory Committee, a standing committee appointed by the Board of Commissioners, Washington County and the City of Hillsboro have implemented aspects of the master plan as resources have been identified. Now in 2015, the expanded partnership continues the earlier work of community leaders such as Mayor Willey and Chair Duyck, former Mayor Tom Hughes and former County Chair Tom Brian.
"This partnership memorializes that ongoing relationship and recognizes the City's ability to invest in the land and add value for recreational users," said Hillsboro City Manager Michael Brown. "By enhancing the facility on two levels to improve the quality of service and amenities, Washington County and Hillsboro residents and visitors all benefit."
An Attractive Urban RV Park
Washington County leaders are focused on increasing tourism opportunities and helping local businesses generate additional revenue, and see the urban RV park's potential to become a regional destination – particularly for RV owners who want easy access to the Washington County wine trail and MAX line access to downtown Portland.
The envisioned RV park would be a first-class facility with high-end amenities, such as access to cable television, wi-fi, utilities, and more. The fairgrounds location will provide visitors numerous options for exploring the area by light rail, by car, or bicycle.
"A new top-of-the-line RV Park is what Washington County needs to elevate our ability to draw visitors traveling in recreational vehicles," said Washington County Visitors Association President and CEO Carolyn McCormick. "The RV tourism industry grows each year, currently propelled by low fuel costs and international visitors wanting to see and have a real American experience, as well as domestic travelers craving the same.
"This public/public partnership enables us to introduce our destination to visitors looking to enjoy the urban and rural travel experience. RV campgrounds designed for limited-stay visitors is a perfect piece to round out the County's portfolio of accommodations. Even more exciting is that local businesses will have a direct financial benefit from the introduction of a recreational vehicle park."
Preserving Community Recreation
Centrally located in the City of Hillsboro, the fairgrounds recreation facilities are a regional destination for soccer, softball and tennis. With City control of the site assured, planning can begin on numerous improvements needed to upgrade the site in creating a high-quality recreation facility. Players from Hillsboro and beyond will enjoy upgraded field conditions maintained to reflect the City's high standards. Staff will install artificial turf in much of the area to maximize the playability of the fields, and improve the conditions for players, thus increasing recreation and revenue opportunities. Players and spectators will also enjoy seeing new field lighting, backstops, bases, players' benches and bleachers.
"We have a well-earned reputation for providing top-quality recreation opportunities for residents and visitors," said Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Director Wayne Gross. "That's why we jumped at the opportunity to make a long-term commitment to preserving the athletic facilities at the Washington County fairgrounds."
The City of Hillsboro will upgrade parking conditions with asphalt surfacing, concrete curbs, signage, striping, lighting, and capacity for 125 vehicles. Nearby, the four tennis courts at the fairgrounds will be relocated and expanded to six courts, with new surfacing to eliminate cracking, as well as new lighting, fencing, and players' benches. The City will also build a new concessions and restroom building that meets all ADA requirements for accessibility. Families of all ages will benefit from the construction of two new picnic shelters, a new play area with updated play equipment, new park benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles, drinking fountains and park signage. These and other improvements will be scheduled after funding has been secured.
Patrick Preston, City of Hillsboro Public Affairs Manager, patrick.preston@Hillsboro-Oregon.gov, 503-998-8460
Philip Bransford, Washington County Communications Officer, Philip_Bransford@co.washington.or.us, 503-846-8685