Fairgrounds should have new pole barn by March

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 5:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 5:09 p.m.

A new pole barn should be set up at the Alachua County Fairgrounds in time for the county Youth Fair and Livestock Show in March, if all goes well.

The County Commission voted unanimously to amend the terms and conditions of a purchase order for the new steel pole barn on Thursday, which will allow the staff to move forward with plans to install the new structure in time for the fair.

The county is buying the pre-engineered pole barn from Universal Steel Buildings Corp. for $71,400 and one of the county’s vendors will install it, Purchasing Manager Larry Sapp said Thursday at the meeting.

The old pole barn’s roof collapsed during a storm last December. Its collapse was due to a few factors, including lack of maintenance and age, according to a Driscoll Engineering report. There had also been dry rot in the wood framing of the structure.

For the 2013 youth fair, the county rented a large tent to provide extra space and moved the show ring into the fairgrounds’ exhibition hall since the pole barn was defunct.

The commission had already approved a purchase order for the new pole barn in October, but Universal Steel asked the county to amend its standard terms and conditions to indemnify it against any claims based on installation defects since Universal Steel isn’t involved in that aspect of the project. The commission approved that change Thursday, so the company will be indemnified when it comes to installation issues but will provide personal injury and property protection for manufacturing defects.

The total cost for replacing the pole barn is estimated at about $225,000, although Sapp said it will hopefully come in under that figure.

The structure can be moved to a new location eventually, which may be necessary since the county has long-term plans to move the fairgrounds to a new location and redevelop the current fairgrounds site as a business park.

However, Facilities Manager Charlie Jackson said relocating the pole barn could be more expensive than installing it, which may cost close to $100,000.

Commissioner Charles “Chuck” Chestnut IV said he was uncomfortable with changing the standard practice for purchase orders, although he eventually voted in favor of amending the terms and conditions with the caveat that he wouldn’t support a move like this in the future.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gainesville.com.

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