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Lucas County pays $66,000 to agricultural society

Lucas County commissioners yesterday approved a payment of $66,000 to the county's agricultural society as well as a year-to-year lease to replace one due to expire in 2033.

The payment comprised $36,000 to erase the debt of the society and $30,000 as a one-year lease payment for the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee.

Commissioners earlier paid $50,000 of the debt incurred by the society for losses suffered because of bad weather in its sponsorship of the Lucas County Fair in 1999.

When commissioners agreed to pay the debt in June, they said it was time to renegotiate what had been a 99-year lease between the county and agricultural society for the recreation center's 120 acres.

Commissioners sought a new lease in part to give them more flexibility in determining what to do with the property after the Toledo Mud Hens make their scheduled move from Key Street to downtown Toledo in 2002.

John Alexander, an assistant county administrator, said his office is working toward seeking bids from consultants to review the property and suggest alternate uses for it.

Commissioner Harry Barlos said commissioners are open to suggestions, but are leaning toward keeping the site a public recreational facility.

Holly Grams, treasurer of the agricultural society, said the group is looking forward to working with the commissioners' staff to find a more appropriate location for the annual county fair.

She said the society has been considering a move for some time, preferring a more rural setting. “We'd like to be able to present tractor pulls and demolition derbies,” but it isn't possible at the recreation center's current residential location, Ms. Grams said.

The society occupies a portion of the recreation center property year-round and has full use of the land during the annual fair.

The original lease, prepared in 1934, calls for the county to lease the grounds to the agricultural society for $100, and a second contract calls for the society to lease the property back to the commissioners for $5,000 per year.

Mr. Alexander said it is assumed that the agreement was reached so commissioners could provide financial assistance to the society.

Over time, the county has leased the property for $25,000 a year. The current lease calls for an annual payment of $30,000 until the society is relocated.

Mr. Alexander said finding a new site could take two to four years.

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