Delaware County officials say they’re concerned about their potential legal liability for parts of the county fairgrounds that are owned by Delaware County.
Monday morning’s county commission meeting was the first for new county administrator Ferzan Ahmed. Ahmed is replacing the retired Tim Hansley.
County assistant prosecutor Aric Hochstettler expressed concerns to commissioners about the county being named in a liability lawsuit if a person was injured on fairgrounds property that is owned by the county. The issue comes on the heels of a planned circus at the fairgrounds that was canceled when Delaware City Council refused to issue a permit for the circus in March.
The county owns nine parcels inside the fairgrounds and the Delaware County Agricultural Society owns eight, according to county officials. Even though the fair board maintains and manages the fairgrounds, the county could be named in a liability lawsuit, Hochstettler said.
The county’s parcels at the fairgrounds could be handled in various ways, he said.
Hochstettler suggested and said he saw no down side in transferring the titles to the fair board. “If all the property is titled in the name of the (fair board), you don’t even have the issue of who’s the owner,” he said.
He said the county could stipulate that if the land were no longer used by the fair board as a fairgrounds, the land could revert back to the county.
Hochstettler was asked to proceed with arranging a work session between the county and the fair board. “You’ve raised a liability that has been there for a while but (we) don’t want it to linger,” Commission President Barb Lewis said.
“I’ll have to wait to hear from them to know what their thought process is,” county fair general manager Bill Lowe said when contacted by The Gazette Monday afternoon. “I’d like to see a map first before I comment.”
In other business, commissioners:
• Declared April 10-16 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
• Approved subdivision plats for Cheshire Woods section 2, North farms section 3 and North Farms section 7A.
• Approved participation in the Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program on parcels of farmland from James G. Sherman and Susan Sherman, Beverlee Ruth Rubin Jobrack and Lynda Zee Pearce, Gary L. Newhouse and Yvonne G. Newhouse, and Gary L. Newhouse and Sharon D. Wade.
• Approved setting times and dates for public hearings for the county’s 2016 Community Block Grant program. The first public hearing will on April 21 at 9:40 a.m. during the regular scheduled county commission meeting. The second public hearing will be on June 2 at 9:40 a.m., also during a scheduled commission meeting.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.