Rochester Fair's buildings, finances get a needed boost on Tuesday

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A LITTLE BRUSHING UP: Dan Grandonico, a Rochester Fair volunteer, left, and Rochester Fair board member Bob Brown spruce up one of the Fairgrounds buildings with a fresh coat of paint on Tuesday. (Rochester Voice photo)

ROCHESTER - The Rochester City Council voted overwhelmingly at a Special Meeting on Tuesday to back off its earlier demands that would have forced The Rochester Fair to prepay its police and fire details.

Instead the fair will have until 30 days after the fair is over to pay the $20,000-$40,000 that has been bandied about as the potential cost for safety details.

The vote to waive prepayment was 12-1.

It was hinted at during Tuesday's meeting that fire details, in particular, could be exponentially higher for this fair, given the number of fire code violations recently unearthed by fire officials, including their demands for a sprinkler system in the historic Exhibition Hall.

Prior to the vote City Manager Blaine Cox told councilors that he had been shown financials from the Rochester Fair board that suggested they would have ample profits to pay the city the cost of the details once the fair was over.

Cox also said that fire code violations brought forward by the Rochester Fire Department are being addressed by the fair on a daily and ongoing basis and that progress has been made on that front.

City Councilor Sandra Keans, who is also on the Rochester Fair board, reminded councilors that the Exhibition Hall is an historic building and that negotiations are ongoing over its occupancy during the fair.

"The Exhibition Hall is an historic structure that has not been in the realm of the fire department," Keans said. "They have not dealt with historic structures. It has exits on all four sides, all things that would be normally waived by the state fire marshal," whom she said had recently visited the fairgounds for his own inspection.

"But whether the hall is open or not, that will not affect whether the fair goes on. It will go on," Keans added.

Councilor Ralph Torr added that the Exhibition Hall had been a prime venue of the fair for 140 years and they've never had a problem.

Just prior to the vote Mayor Caroline McCarley took the opportunity to rail against a local paper's headline that said she was calling on the board to reverse its earlier vote, a vote she also initially supported.

"The headline troubled me that I told you to all get onboard for waiving this; those were not my words, that was a headline," she said.

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