An advisory committee formed to study the future of the London-Laurel County Fairgrounds held its first meeting Wednesday, as work began to remove many dilapidated and unsafe structures at the facility.

The fairgrounds and the nearby Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park were given to the City of London by the state September 2019. The City of London Tourism commission leases and runs both facilities.

Since then, many ideas have been discussed on what to do with the fairgrounds. The advisory committee is the first step in developing a road map.

After the advisory committee makes its recommendations, the public will be given a chance to make comments and give input at a moderated public forum at a later date.

“We want to modernize our fairgrounds and start with a clean slate,” said Steve Berry, chairman of the tourism commission. “We’d like to bring back the fairgrounds to what it should be, what it once was. The committee will be our ears in the community, to hear what everyone would like to see out there.”

Last August, the tourism commission adopted a three-point plan to modernize the fairgrounds. The most pressing need was the demolition of antiquated structures and playground equipment.

Many structures at the fairgrounds are 40-50 years old and needed to be torn down. Playground equipment was not usable. Bleachers were warped and antiquated. (See accompanying photos).

The tourism commission drew up a list of items that needed to be torn down or sold and submitted it to the city council. Even though the tourism commission leases the fairgrounds, the council has to approve additions or subtractions of structures. Work to take down the approved structures began Monday.

The second step was the development of a seven-member fairgrounds committee, consisting of six representatives from the main stakeholders and a person at large.

Representatives were selected from London City Tourism, London-Laurel County Tourism, London City Council, Laurel County Fiscal Court, Laurel County Extension Service and the London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce.

The third step will be to conduct a public forum for citizens to give their input on the future of the fairgrounds. After input is gathered from the public forum and the advisory committee, the tourism commission will hire a site planner to draw up a master plan based on those recommendations.

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