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Grow Grand Island: Parking lot improvements planned at Fonner Park

Grow Grand Island: Parking lot improvements planned at Fonner Park

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The Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority, comprising the Nebraska State Fair, Fonner Park, Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce, was created to market the $42 million facilities constructed in conjunction with the relocation of the Nebraska State Fair to Grand Island in 2010.

The primary goal of GILCA is to attract and host livestock shows within the confines and buildings of Fonner Park throughout the year when the Nebraska State Fair does not hold possession of the fairground facilities. These livestock show exhibitors, family members, vendors and ancillary support people bring new dollars into our community. They shop at our retail stores, dine at our eateries and fill their pickup trucks with our fuel. The sales tax, hotel occupation tax, and food and beverage tax contribute significantly to the local economy.

Because of our world-class facilities and excellent customer service, Grand Island has earned a well-deserved reputation as a premier site for these types of events. Continued improvements and investments to the facilities and grounds will ensure Grand Island has the most desirable space in the Midwest (and arguable the United States) to host these national shows.

As we learned from last year’s Nebraska State Fair, a rainy stretch can make parking at Fonner Park challenging, and at times impossible in the grassy lots. The visitor experience, whether to the Nebraska State Fair or to a livestock or equine show, will be greatly enhanced by making parking lot improvements.

GILCA has received a $35,000 Grow Grand Island grant toward a $72,000 project to improve the roadways in the west parking area, to include designated handicap parking, by installing and grading 1.5 inches of crushed concrete. The material used will be spread 12 feet wide and 4 inches thick. Vehicle parking will remain on the grassy area, but the common drive lanes in the 6.7-acre lot will be crushed concrete. At present, the west lot is the only lot being addressed. Notwithstanding weather delays, the contractor is prepared to begin work soon with a completion goal of August.

Apart from the Nebraska State Fair attendees who will be positively impacted by the west lot upgrade, exhibitors of GILCA livestock and equine shows who park their trailers at Fonner Park will now also enjoy the improved roadways. This parking lot improvement is meaningful to maintain the existing parking utilized by the Nebraska State Fair and various GILCA shows, as well as an asset in facilitating and attracting future events.

Tonja Brown is the implementation chair for Grow Grand Island Area Partnership. Grow Grand Island was established as a partnership involving the city, county, Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Economic Development Corp. to develop and implement an ongoing, dynamic strategic plan to guide community growth and prosperity.

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