Eagle River Wants First Chance At Fairgrounds Property

Oct 10, 2019

Credit Vilas Co. Fair

The Eagle River city council has asked that  the city have the first opportunity to buy the Vilas County fairgrounds property should it come on the market in order to “control growth.”

Last month Ron DeBruyne, chairman of the county board, made a statement about having the city buy the fairgrounds when they were discussing the fate of the tennis courts. While no formal action has been on the agenda of the county public property committee, council member Jerry Burkett wanted the city to be prepared should the county decide to sell. “I would hope the city can control its borders and growth and the city should talk to the county if they look at ending ownership,” Burkett said. “We need to indicate the city is interested in the property.”

There is sewer and water on all sides, about 800 feet on the Eagle River, and 900 feet of Highway 17/70 frontage. Burkett felt ownership by the city would be an opportunity to bring jobs to the area and not to have development that would be tax exempt.

While council member Ron Kressen supported the idea “100%”, council member Robin Ginner questioned the “fate of large events like Cranberry Fest” and musky tournaments and where they might go? The council adopted 4-0 a motion by Ginner, seconded by Kim Schaffer to ask the county to allow the city to have the first opportunity to purchase the fairgounds property should the county decide to sell.

In other actions, the council agreed to have their consultants work jointly with Northland Pines grant writers to submit a grant application for complete reconstruction of Pleasure Island Road. Pines administrator Scott Foster indicated bicycle/pedestrian routes be included in the application which will be submitted by Eagle River with supportive letters from the municipalities within the Pines school district. Complete reconstruction is estimated to cost $1,102,692. The grant application is due Dec. 8 and would be a 90-10 but could be less if the applicant checks a “little box” indicating they would accept a lesser share.