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Friday, September 24, 2021

The county is considering moving forward with its plan to relocate the Alachua County Fairgrounds to a nearby spot, but some residents are worried about whether it’s a good idea to move the fairgrounds at all.

The county held a community meeting Wednesday at the fairgrounds to discuss residents’ opinions and concerns about the current plan. The County Commission wants to move the fairgrounds so it can develop the current location next to Gainesville Regional Airport into an office, hotel and retail complex.

Acting County Manager Richard Drummond spoke to a room of about 50 people discussing the city’s plans to move the fairgrounds to either Weseman Tract, at Waldo Road and Northeast 63rd Avenue, or Gainesville Raceway, at 11211 N. County Road 225.

“When we first started talking about moving, we just talked about redeveloping on this site,” Drummond said, “but it wasn’t sufficient with money.”

Some Alachua County residents were concerned about the fate of the fairgrounds, which hosts a variety of festivals each year including the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire.

Marihelen Wheeler, a Gainesville resident, asked Drummond whether anyone would buy space at the proposed complex.

“I can’t tell you someone’s knocking on my door to buy the property,” he replied. “But people in the industry say it’s a viable location.”

There were other concerns brought up at the meeting, including whether the county would improve utilities and build a fire department in the area to attract businesses to the complex.

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