Tuesday, February 2, 2010



 UPDATE:  02/02/2010 - 09:00 AM

Dear Martin,

Thank you for finally stepping up to comment more on the proposed Expo center.

Unfortunately, even your asessment falls short of reality. Nothing of that nature survives without sound economics.

The economics of running a horse/livestock expo begin with the cost to operate it.

The figure Tom Harmon gave me a yr or so ago was $6,000/day to rent the facility.

PLEASE call ... or any other horse club mgmt person ... and ask how many of them can afford to rent a $6,000/day facility to put on a horse show.

Better yet, ask them what they are paying for the facilities they currently use and why they aren't using anything more modern/expensive/closer?

Never mind the other equally important factors such as the noise, odors, flies, trash, and OHHHH accelerated CRIME which accompanies facilities of this nature particularly when they are situated in walking distance to urban neighborhoods.

Ask ANYONE with a clue what happens at the Ohio State FG during large horse shows. The Oklahoma State FG has a horrendous problem with thefts and other crimes against exhibitors.

As I've mentioned before, the ingress and egress, parking, camping and so on for the type and amount of exhibitors they will need to make it profitable just do  not add up.

Furthermore, what does anyone involved in this project (Stk Dev. Bd, Commissioners) know about showing horses except Ms. Burick who is a participant in one of the smallest breeds (by registration no.s) of any in the US?

No modern horse show facility can survive with Morgan shows, Arabian shows, Paso Fino shows, Draft horse shows, or any other breed show w/o the support of AQHA (American Quarter Horse Assoc.) and APHA (American Paint Horse Assoc.) shows PLUS all the peripheral breed shows put together. This would include USEF (hunter, jumper, and dressage) shows.

The SCPR does not oppose the building of what is essentially a horse show arena at the Stark County fairgrounds.  But it should be the last piece in the reconstruction of the Stark County fairgrounds; not the first.

Make no mistake about it.  This project, which the SCPR calls "the Burick Plan," because it came from Lake Township horse lover and attorney Elizabeth Burick; is essentially a parochial plan which will, if it is ever built, stand in glaring contrast to the antiquated, sorely in need of repair many, many buildings currently located on the fairgrounds, including the grandstand itself.

The "Burick Plan" has been gussied up with an impressive sounding Canton - Stark County Agricultural & Livestock Expo Arena title. Interesting, no?  Why not call it what it really is?  It is for horse shows; plain and simple. 

The embellishment took place likely because, maybe just maybe, anybody who knows anything about economic development might recognize from the title alone that the proposal is way, way too narrow to get the kind of public support it has gotten from public officials (i.e. the Stark County commissioners) who abdicated their responsiblities by uncritically taking the assessment of the Stark Development Board.

Commissioner Bosley did feebly attempt to vet Steve Paquette (a Stark Development Board official) at the commissioners weekly meeting last Wednesday, but he soon realized that Paquette was blowing him off with evasive answers and so it seemed to the SCPR that Bosley simply gave up.  Bosley has probably made his last stand as commissioner in terms of fighting for what he believes in as commissioner (e.g. fighting to keep the commissioners promise to split "imposed" sales/use tax revenues between 9-1-1 and the county general fund), and likely he is now going to be focusing on getting elected state representative for the 50th Ohio House district.

The most disturbing aspect of the Stark Development Board (SDB) getting squarely behind the Horse arena to the SCPR is that, in doing so, the SDB is sending a clear signal to all of Stark County how anemic it is and that Stark County is going nowhere anytime soon on the economic development front with this organization in charge.

Former commissioner Harmon correctly said, when he was still commissioner, that Stark County's largest economic asset is agriculture.  But Harmon demonstrated as commissioner and now as former commissioner that he is no visionary.  A possibility/potential thinker, which Harmon is not, would have taken this knowledge and put it work for the maximum benefit of Canton/Stark County. 

While Stark Countians are blessed that Harmon is no longer commissioner, you can bet that he will continue playing on his 30 or so years of political connections to influence the future direction of Canton and Stark County.  Tom Harmon does not have the creativeness, innovativeness and vision to arrogate such a role unto himself.

What Harmon should have done, while he was yet commissioner, was to convene a task force to come up with a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the Stark County fairgrounds.  Undoubtedly, the thought never occurred to Harmon.  He is so used to thinking about his narrow political interests that to think community wide is totally alien to him.

We now know that Harmon was marking time as commissioner. All that talk in mid 2007 to the press  - when he was appointed commissioner by Stark Democrats -  about his ideas for Stark County was nothing more than political pablum!

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