Fairgrounds plan set to start, with input from MSU students

Johnathan Hettinger —
Thursday, November 29, 2018

With Montana State University student work wrapping up this week, the Fairgrounds Master Planning Committee is ready to get going.

The Rural Impact Lab, which spent the semester working, made its final presentation Wednesday to the committee, and the next steps are now in the county’s hand. The class was tasked with engaging the community to figure out what residents want the fairgrounds to become ahead of a master plan next year.

Nicole Divine, county fairgrounds and parks director, said the committee is planning on using the students’ process. The students’ report includes recommendations on how to keep the public involved in the process as it moves forward, including through public meetings, identifying important groups and engaging youth for additional feedback.

The students met with dozens of local officials and held a public meeting to get feedback on the fairgrounds.

Park County Public Works Director Parks Frady said the county will now use the student’s findings to help with the master plan, to be conducted by Staley Engineering, which has a standing contract with the county.

The $58,000 study, which would help guide the future of the fairgrounds, would be split between Park County and the Livingston Roundup Association, which would each contribute $25,000, with potentially other private grants covering the rest.

The fairgrounds is currently operating at a net loss and the county is looking at ways to make it more profitable by attracting more events. The master plan is supposed to help with that goal.

Park County Commissioner Clint Tinsley said the students would like to continue to be involved next semester, but the committee is already getting anxious to get started.

“The students want to do more, but the board wants to do more, too,” Tinsley said.

The committee will not meet again until January, but members are now going back to their stakeholder groups to discuss current and future use.

“That includes what events they’ve had and where they expect that to go,” Divine said.