Forty-two Utah lawmakers have signed a letter urging that the Utah State Fairpark remain at its present location.
The letter, signed by 29 state representatives and 13 senators, also calls for greater efforts to improve existing facilities at the Fairpark.Rep. Kurt E. Oscarson, D-Salt Lake, a member of the Legislature's Community and Economic Development Appropriations Com-mittee, prepared and signed the letter, which was sent to Gov. Mike Leavitt; Joseph Jenkins, executive director of the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development; and Bill Shaw, chairman of the the State Fair Committee, and "other members of the committee."
The letter, which was dated Aug. 22, was also signed by all Salt Lake County senators and all but two Salt Lake County representatives.
Oscarson said his intent was to let the State Fairpark Task Force know how several lawmakers feel about the fair and its location. Earlier this year, Jenkins asked the task force, which is also headed by Shaw, to study the fair and its facilities. As part of its study, the task force has discussed proposals to move the fair to a new location.
In the letter, a copy of which was provided to the Deseret News, the lawmakers said the fair should remain at its "traditional location." The site has been a "beacon representing the diversity of Utah's citizens and visitors as a unique place to hold events. The park is ingrained in our history . . ., and we believe it would be a mistake to change the location."
Continuing, the letter urges a "rededication of commitment to the restoration (of facilities) of this significant meeting place" and requests that Leavitt, Jenkins, Shaw and others "do everything possible to see that this locality is once again a great source of pride" for all citizens.
The legislators said they strongly oppose loss of the historic site. "To rebuild the park in a new location would be prohibitive and not in the best interests" of the state.
"Although the park has seen some years of neglect, the recent restoration and renewed interest in retaining the park's historic buildings have breathed new life (into the park). It is our belief that the majority of the Utah citizens do not want to see the park relocated."
The 28 other representatives who signed the letter are Irby N. Arrington, Kelly C. Atkinson, Steve Barth, Afton B. Bradshaw, Melvin R. Brown, Judy Ann Buffmire, Mary Carlson, Orville D. Carnahan, Sara Eubank, R. Mont Evans, Brent H. Goodfellow, Ronald J. Greensides, Neal B. Hendrickson, J. Reese Hunter, Arlo D. James, Shirley V. Jensen, David M. Jones, Robert H.M. Killpack, Frank R. Pignanelli, Clark L. Reber, Allan C. Rushton, Gene Davis, Raymond W. Short, Pete Suazo, Daniel H. Tuttle, Michael G. Waddoups, Paul Shepherd and Darrell L. Jorgensen. Also signing were Sens. Delpha A. Baird, Wilford R. Black Jr., Paul T. Fordham, Scott N. Howell, Al Mansell, Ronald J. Ockey, George Mantes, Millie M. Peterson, Stephen J. Rees, Brent C. Richards, Robert C. Steiner, Blaze D. Wharton and Howard A. Stephenson.
Ockey is also a member of the state task force, which has been meeting in recent weeks. The task force was supposed to present its findings to Leavitt Oct. 1, but Shaw said on Tuesday that he will seek an extension.
Oscarson told the Deseret News he has been disturbed by failure in past legislative sessions to get the Coliseum and other State Fairpark facilities on the bonding list. He said he and some other legislators recently heard a report that a local company was looking at the State Fairpark as a possible development site.
The task force and a number of subcommittees have been meeting for several weeks and appear to still have more research to complete. Some members of the task force are scheduled to visit fairs in other states, and they hope to meet with a representative of the Weber and Salt Lake county commissions regarding proposals that might involve the State Fair.
In task force meetings, members have seemed anxious to study pros and cons related to financial and other issues involving the fair. The task force and state officials have said they have no hidden agendas regarding the fair or the Fairpark, and they say they are determined to make recommendations in the best interests of the state.