Youth Fair says “NO” to relocation

By Rebeca Piccardo/News Director

Despite the recent County support for the University’s efforts to acquire the fairgrounds, the fair has shown it will not go quietly.

Now that the county commissioners instructed mayor Carlos Gimenez to provide a referendum for the University land acquisition initiative, Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition Inc. CEO, Robert Hohenstein, responded in a July 24 memorandum, saying the fair “has no need or desire to relocate.”

Hohenstein cited a 22 percent increase in attendance as a sign that fairs are growing in popularity.

As a result, the Fair’s board of directors voted to extend the run time of the Youth Fair for the first time in 30 years, adding a fourth weekend to next year’s calendar.

While the University has appraised the relocation efforts to be within $50 million, the Fair says it could be over $250 million. Due to this disagreement in value, the Fair says that the University still does not have the funds to relocate the fair and the County will not spend taxpayer’s money towards this initiative.

However, the University recently received $ 10 million in support from the State Legislature for the land acquisition initiative.

Another objection Hohenstein mentions in his e-mail to fair members is that the County still hasn’t identified a new site.

However, after years of back and forth between the University, the Fair and the County, 24 sites have been recommended, of which a total of three sites have been studied by the fair and the University.

As previously reported, the fair showed preference towards a site west of Miami Lakes.

In a July 22 open letter to the community by President Mark Rosenberg, he says that this University expansion will create jobs and allow student enrollment to continue increasing.

With the smallest main campus out of all the state universities, Rosenberg said that, without this expansion, the University would soon run out of space for growth and “lose momentum for our community.”

Hohenstein states that, “FIU’s plans could turn public park land into private for-profit development.”

On September 3, the commission will meet again to discuss the University’s land acquisition initiative, and all parties involved will present a final recommendation for the fair’s new site.

Additionally, the relocation of the fair will be presented in a countywide voter referendum during the General Election on November 4.

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