Fairground shows signs of wear without maintenance budget

By Alex Davis | adavis@wcia.com

Published 05/28 2014 11:19AM

Updated 05/28 2014 11:26AM

SPRINGFIELD -- The grandstand at the state fairgrounds is falling apart and it's going to cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to fix. WCIA-3's Alex Davis finds out the problem centers on a damaged roof.

The Illinois State Fair is just two months away, yet areas of the fairgrounds are crumbling. For Carla Nerio, the disrepair of the grandstand is upsetting.

"They got two months before the state fair and they got all these concerts booked. People ain't gonna to feel safe under this."

She calls it a joke.

"They want to bring in revenue, but if they don't keep it up, they're not going to be interested."

Nerio is just one of many frustrated residents who've learned the roof is rotting away.

"This has been going on for a long time, for it to go ahead and cave in and take a lot of the structure with it."

Now the state has to spend tens of thousands of dollars to fix it.

"It's more important to spend the $60,000. Like I said, it's rotting away the wood. They didn't take care of stuff in the first place. And, if you know, somebody gets hurt around here, it's going to cost them a lot more money."

In hindsight, some lawmakers say some of the damage could have been avoided had there been money set aside for routine maintenance. And there was; at one point.

"We used to have a line item in the budget that would take care of deferred maintenance."

But, it's been done away with.

"That has been gone now with Blagojevich and Quinn and so things like this happen when you don't have the money to take care of basic roof repairs."

It's something which could come up this week in the Capitol as lawmakers debate the budget.

"So, it's important that we put this back in the budget. It's important that we set our priorities and move forward with maintaining the fairgrounds."

"People ain't gonna feel safe under here."

This year the state fair will run August 7 - 17. The Springfield company hired to fix the roof is confident repairs will be done by then.

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