CROWN POINT | A Lake County official hopes to give the Lake County Fairgrounds a new look and purpose.
County Councilman Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, wants the county to pump $2.35 million into the 86-acre facility, which is home to the annual county fair.
He would like the county to give it a new perimeter fence, restore some of the oldest buildings on the grounds, add picnic shelters, repair its covered bridge and relocate two popular county services on its grounds.
Strong wants new offices built for the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District staff and the county fairgrounds secretary, opposite the 4-H building on the site of the old caretaker house, which was demolished several years ago.
"This location is common sense because of the services they provide and is more centrally located for the citizens of Lake County to utilize," he wrote in a memo he submitted Wednesday to the Lake County Board of Commissioners. They received it without comment.
The extension service provides public education on nutrition, gardening and natural resources management as well as sponsoring the county's 4-H youth development program. The soil and water conservation services provides education to prevent soil erosion and water pollution.
Those two programs are now at 880 E. 99th Court in Merrillville's Ameriplex, where the county is paying a 10-year, $1 million lease that will expire in 2017.
He proposes the county shouldn't renew that lease, but instead set aside $587,5000 a year in county economic development funds derived from the county income tax to fund construction and eliminate rent payments.
Strong said commissioners have previously been noncommittal about his idea, so he wanted to make it public in the hope of gathering support for it.