Middlefield to Review Strickland Farm Lease

The town owned property is leased by the Durham Fair Association for fair parking but the lease expires in March so town officials are considering their options.


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.

Just my opinion October 06, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Require less from the Fair Association when they keep asking more of the people who go to the fair. Why should the Fair get a break they don't give one to anyone. If the town changes the lease to a lower price they should be ashamed. The Fair Association finds a way to nickle and dime ever cent they can get out of Fair goers.
Rockfall Resident October 06, 2012 at 12:06 PM
They recoup their losses with charging fees for parking that they didn't five years ago as we'll as higher entry fees into the fair. They have been building like crazy. Mr. Brayshaw. You need to continue to collect a sizable fee for the area. I also suggest negotiating waiving the fee for middlefield residents since it is after all " our land!"
Big K October 06, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I think Middlefield should Lease the property to the Durham Fair Assoc. again, just as we have in the past. They have maintained it and kept it in good shape. Also, I agree with Mr. Brayshaw On (Free) parking for Middlefield Taxpayers. "If you're renting a house, does that landlord have any right to come and cohabitate in your house?"
Scott Wheeler October 06, 2012 at 09:26 PM
If the fair leases the property then it is their choice to charge for parking, basic simple rule of ownership. They have maintained it very well and were good tenents so I say offer it once again to them. Free free free free..................entitlement is amuck around here.
Concerned October 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Mr. Augur was the First Selectman at the time the Strickland Farm was leased to the Fair Assoc. This was against the advice of the Farm & Land Management Commission, which Mr. Brayshaw has apparently disbanded. Mr. Borelli used aceptable farming practices, and had bid a higher amount for the lease at that time. The BOS voted to award the lease to the Fair Assoc. Since that time, there has been no open bidding on the property. Perhaps the Fair Assoc. should re-think their agreement with the Greenbackers, so as to recoup more of their leasing expenses. Hay is quite expensive right now, and they have been getting 3 cuts off the farm.


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