The Durham Fair has been over less than a week but already Middlefield town officials are thinking about what to do with one of the fair's popular parking areas.
For several years, Middlefield has leased the town owned Strickland Farm to the Durham Fair Association which uses the open space property for fair parking. The fair association's 5-year lease expires on March 1, 2013.
"To make a long story short, we really ought to rethink this thing," said Middlefield First Selectman Jon Brayshaw at the Oct. 1 Board of Selectmen meeting. "We're going to be sitting down with the fair to negotiate and to listen to each other's issues."
This year, the fair association paid $13,700 to lease the property but was forced to close the $5-per-vehicle lot on Friday because of rain, making it impossible, according to Brayshaw, to recoup its expenses.
Making things worse, the property was heavily damaged by the vehicles that were allowed to park Friday morning. Under the lease, the fair association is responsible for maintenance of the property.
Not that long ago, the property was leased to Borelli Farm but crop farming took a toll on the soil and the town decided to lease Strickland Farm to the fair association, according to Brayshaw.
For most of the year the property is empty and is well taken care of by the fair association, he said.
"The way it's used right now is benign," said Brayshaw. "It's a hayfield. It's hard to beat a hayfield."
But now the town must decide whether to move in a different direction, or possibly require less from the fair association.
"We have a vested interest in the success of the fair so we don't want to play hard to get. We want to be fair, they're our neighbors. A lot of their benefit comes back to Middlefield in a lot of different ways," Brayshaw said.