#Historical Preservation
San Juan County
United States of America

The horse barn at the San Juan County Fairgrounds was built in 1924. The 93-year-old barn has cultural value for generations of islanders who have been involved with the county fair. The county is planning to demolish the barn citing safety concerns, and has already started the process by removing the stalls. We believe that further study and discussion may result in a plan to make the barn safe for continued use.

3/25/17 UPDATE: We have some good news to share with you! A few of us met with County Parks and Fair directors yesterday, March 24th, to talk about the horse barn. They are willing to consider leaving some part of the barn standing until after the fair, preferably the oldest part if it is salvageable. This will give more time for public comments and planning, so that we can figure out how a portion of the barn may be saved, and for what use. If this happens, the partial barn will be boarded up, not used, during the fair. This will allow the fair goers to see it, learn what’s going on, and get involved in the discussion.

The barn demolition has stopped for now. A permit appeal has been filed with the county, so there will be no more demolition until there is a hearing. The purpose of the appeal was to give more time for fact-finding and deliberation before the barn is irrevocably lost.

Space for the horses at this year’s fair is, of course, a priority for all of us. As planned, this year the horses will be in a tent with portable stalls. This is an interim solution that could allow for leaving part of the barn standing and still have room for the horses behind it, to the east.

This alternative strategy must be approved by the County Council before the partial demolition can take place. In the meantime we continue to collect signatures on this petition. Our intent is to show the SJC Parks Department, the County Council, and the Fair staff, that there are a lot of people who care about the old barn, would like to see at least part of it saved, and are willing to be a part of a community effort to make historically sensitive improvements to the equestrian facilities.

Please sign the petition, and make a comment if you wish to be part of the discussion. Thank you for your support!

3/20/17 UPDATE: On March 13 we attended the County Fair Board meeting. We asked for a delay in the barn demolition, in order to gather more information. The Fair Board listened but did not deliberate, and later by email advised us to take the matter up with the County Council.

Today, 3/20/17, three of us presented at the County Council meeting, asking for a delay of demolition. While they did not specify an amount of time, the Council and County Manager seem willing to pause the demolition for us at least briefly, due to all of your signatures and comments. We are asking the County and Fair for some specific information during this pause, including what is listed below:

We would like to see a cost comparison between repairing the old barn and building new. We believe that this was never done.

We also want to know if there is a true commitment to building a new horse barn, We are concerned that the proposed tent for this year's fair could become the permanent situation (as happened with the poultry barn), or that a metal structure will be built instead of a classic wooden barn.

We would also like numbers of how many horses have been at the fair for the past several years, to determine what is truly needed.

If the County and the Fair truly needs to demolish the barn, we want to see a plan for how the wood will be stored and kept, and how it will eventually be used. We want the barn properly historically documented and memorialized at the fairgrounds.

We ask for these things because we want to understand the eventual outcome of the barn demolition. We don't want people to be surprised and disappointed by what happens if the old barn comes down.

We, the undersigned, request that the demolition of the S.J.C. Fair Horse Barn be halted so that we may have time to discuss and gather ideas. We request more time to find a way to address current concerns and needs to determine if the barn may be saved.

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The Save the SJC Fair Horse Barn petition to San Juan County was written by Alyson Stephens and is in the category Miscellaneous at GoPetition.