In a unanimous vote, the Nueces County Commissioners Court approved $6.9 million in improvements to the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds last week, a move commissioners hope will eventually bring an increase in revenue to the facility.
In a Feb. 4 meeting, the commissioners held a split vote in which they cancelled plans for a proposed Heritage Center and reallocated $5.3 million of that funding to other fairground projects.
In their March 25 meeting, the county commissioners revisited the costs of individual projects already considered, and approved $1.58 million in additional items.
Items originally approved by the court included additional parking, a 10,000 square foot air conditioned storage facility, parking and utility hook ups for 75 recreational vehicles, landscaping, penning equipment and fencing. Also approved was a roof extension to the existing Equestrian Center, at a cost of $631,344.
The court added a number of items to that list last week, including perimeter lighting for the roadway around the facility, portable bleachers, a pavement and covered walkway for the new storage facility, a locker room and a marquee. The addition of those items brings the total cost of improvements to the fairgrounds to $6,932,031.
Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria, who had recommended additional items such as covered walkways, said she had placed several of those items on hold to help reduce costs.
"To me, the concern was that we need to make it work, if we are going to try to have additional revenue there," Longoria said.
Longoria said she would attempt to get funding from other sources for those items.
Steve Waterman, the Commissioners Court Administrator who presented the items last week, said the items listed had been carefully considered for their potential to bring money into the fairgrounds.
"Most of this stuff is tied to being able to enhance our revenue capability there," Waterman said. "That's the whole purpose of trying to put some more money into that."
Commissioner Mike Pusley agreed, and noted that most of the items on the list had been proposed by Global Spectrum, the company in charge of administration of the fairgrounds.
"I think the public needs to know that a lot of the things we're looking at came to us as a request from Global Spectrum," Pusley said. "They said that if we do these things, they'll generate income, which we all know we desperately need over there."