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City, county talk fairgrounds
3R66 Screen shot 2015 08 11 at 12.37.20 PM

Two of Dawson Countys leading elected officials have started discussions of a million-dollar, joint county and city project.

Despite public disagreements, County Commission Chair Mike Berg and Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan are now apparently seeing eye to eye on a bold idea: to build a joint farmers market and fairground close to the county transfer station on Burt Creek Road.

Weve got 100 acres that was planned for a county government office at one time, and its still there, Berg said. Thirty-five to 40 acres are usable. It would be good for us to work together with the city and put something in place that would serve the entire community.

Grogan thinks its a good idea too.

Mike and I have talked about joining together and trying to do something out there, he said. I have set aside $1 million from SPLOST 6 for a farmers market.

In November, Dawson County voters overwhelmingly approved extending the 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST).

The tax is expected to generate an estimated $46 million for the city and county over six years.

At the time, Berg and Grogan reached an agreement to split funds at a ratio of 85 percent for the county, about $38.5 million, and 15 percent, about $9.6 million going to the city.

Grogan and city council members voted earlier to use $1 million for a farmers market facility.

Were looking at the fairgrounds and farmers market in Cumming, Grogan said. Theyre not the exact model, but it gives us something to look it. The $1 million weve set aside includes land acquisition and building the market.

The Cumming Fairgrounds was established in 1995.

In 2001, Cumming added a 44,000-square-foot covered arena with permanent seating for more than 3,000 and expanded seating for 6,000. It hosts the IPRA Championship rodeo, a fall fair and festival, its July 4th celebration and the Taste of Forsyth.

I think we have a good vision, Berg said. We (the county) dont have funds for something like that in our SPLOST 6, but the city does. This is the reason I want to have a 2020-2030 vision session to try to get the school board, the city, Etowah Water together to come up with a plan for the future something that helps us as far as what we do as a community. In fact, I think its the most important part.

Berg and Grogan have not always agreed on a joint vision for their separate governments, most recently sparring over animal control issues.

We dont agree on everything, and were working through animal control issues, Berg said. Im willing to help with those things, so its just a matter of communication.

The city also plans to jumpstart its two-year-old revitalization plans.

It would be great if the county could join in and help us some way in the revitalization process, Grogan said. To be able to look at projects and say, we did that together would be important.