Officials expected to release new information on Del Mar Fairgrounds settlement

Operator to move forward with renovations

SAN DIEGO - The operator of the Del Mar Fairgrounds announced Tuesday that it would move forward with renovations after settling a lawsuit over its master plan.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association, the state agency that runs the fairgrounds, agreed to take several steps to settle the court action filed in May 2011 by the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach and the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority.

The litigation challenged the plan's environmental impact report. The sprawling park is home to the annual San Diego County Fair, thoroughbred horse racing, horse shows, an off-track wagering facility and numerous trade shows.

"An electronic reader board on I-5 will not be built and that will be eliminated," association board President Adam Day said. "The district will not approve any future hotel for at least five years. The district agrees to increase traffic controls at the Solana Gate. We will also consider relocating the proposed parking structure."

A traffic signal might be installed at the Solana Gate, the side entrance off Via de la Valle.

Day said the settlement will allow the fairgrounds' operator to move ahead with renovating old exhibit halls and study the facility's impact on neighboring cities.

"The number one, two and three priority projects are the replacement of the old, outdated exhibit halls," Day told a local media outlet. "Those halls need updating for building codes, life and safety codes. They need to be more efficient as far as allowing event planners to host events there."

"We had a history of not settling problems with the fairgrounds," said former Del Mar Mayor Don Mosier. "This agreement begins a new era of good and open communication."

The parties announced last week that they reached a final agreement to settle the litigation, but did not release details at that time.

Aside from putting off any plans for a hotel and eliminating an electronic highway sign, the agreement also spells out ways to insure more traffic control during major events it also calls for offsite noise monitoring.

"We generate over $450 million in annual revenue and create thousands of jobs. With this agreement we can stop paying for litigation and we can start planning for new construction," Day said.

On project is to possibly replace the O'Brian and Bing Crosby exhibit halls.

"The restrooms aren't what they should be, there's no heating or cooling, they're more than 70 years old and need to be replaced," said Del Mar Fairgrounds CEO Tim Fennell.

The hope is to have preliminary plans for their replacement done in the next 12 to 16 months.

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