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updated: 2/9/2012 6:08 AM

DuPage board candidates debate moving county fair

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  • DuPage County Board candidates in the Republican primary for District 6 are split on whether the county fairgrounds should be moved out of Wheaton.

      DuPage County Board candidates in the Republican primary for District 6 are split on whether the county fairgrounds should be moved out of Wheaton.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • David Sabathne

      David Sabathne

  • Kevin Wiley

      Kevin Wiley

  • Tom Sutton

      Tom Sutton

  • Robert Larsen

      Robert Larsen

  • James Zay

      James Zay

 
 

Should the DuPage County Fair be moved to a parcel across North Avenue from the county airport?

Republican candidates in county board District 6 say it might be good for residents in northwest DuPage, but are divided on whether the fairgrounds need a new home.

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County board Chairman Dan Cronin has said the fairgrounds next to the county's government complex in Wheaton could be "more productively used" if the fair was relocated.

On Wednesday, the five candidates seeking the GOP nomination for three District 6 seats shared their thoughts about Cronin's suggestion that the fair could be moved to a parcel near DuPage Airport in West Chicago.

Challenger Kevin Wiley of West Chicago said during a Daily Herald endorsement interview that he would be "supportive" of moving the fair to airport land because it would benefit District 6, which includes all or portions of Aurora, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Naperville, Roselle, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield.

David Sabathne, who serves as an airport board member, said the land north of North Avenue is available. But the West Chicago resident questions whether moving the fairgrounds so far west would make it less accessible to residents in other parts of DuPage.

"I would just wonder whether that site serves all of DuPage County," Sabathne said. "But I'd certainly look to it as a possibility."

Wiley and Sabathne are seeking the GOP nomination for District 6 along with incumbents Jim Zay and Robert Larsen and newcomer Tom Sutton of Wayne. The primary winners will face the three Democratic nominees in the November general election.

The Democratic contenders for District 6 in the March 20 primary are incumbent Dirk Enger, Terrell Barnes of Roselle, and Bartlett residents Dave Barry and Lauren Nowak.

The fair association has a lease on the fairgrounds through 2020.

Larsen said he understands why some believe the existing fairgrounds in Wheaton could be put to another purpose. A federal courthouse has been the most-speculated potential development for the 40-acre parcel.

"It would bring business and fit into the structure that we have there," Larsen said of the federal courthouse idea.

But before any action is taken to move the fair, Larsen said he would want to hear from the DuPage County Fair Association, which has a lease on the fairgrounds through 2020.

Zay said he doesn't believe the fair association could afford to move.

"To go out there and build new fair buildings and structures would cost millions of dollars, which I don't think they have," Zay said. "So I think it would be unrealistic."

Also, Zay said it might be better for the airport to eventually develop the parcel near the intersection of North Avenue and Powis Road. "It could be an attraction to bring businesses to (that stretch of) North Avenue," he said.

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