Reader says Boulder County Fairgrounds lot doesn’t make the grade

Dear Johnnie: Every Saturday when I head to the farmers market at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, my car shudders at the thought of going over the extremely rough asphalt going into the parking lot. When you enter the fairgrounds parking lot off of Nelson Road and then turn left (east), the asphalt is very rough and has some large holes where it ends and the dirt starts.

It seems like it’s been very rough for quite some time. Is there anything that can be done to smooth it out? I’m a little surprised that they didn’t fix it when they made the improvements to the farmers market this spring. — Bouncing Bob in a Buick

Dear Bouncing Bob: I headed straight to the fairgrounds to see for myself what you were talking about, because it had been a while since I’d been out there.

I followed the paved drive from the entrance off Boston all the way to Nelson and did not see or feel any rough asphalt. However, when I turned into the gravel lot, I came across dips and bumps that could bounce a Buick.

So I checked with fairgrounds manager Joe Lafollette.

It turns out, there is no person or crew regularly assigned to grading the lot. The county’s grading crew works four 10-hour days, Lafollette told me, so sometimes a grader can come to the fairgrounds on a Friday, so long as Lafollette pays for the fuel and the OT.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to get a grader out there for a while because of the flooding,” he said, speaking of the toll that heavy runoff and a wet summer took on county roads.

He could hire an outsider to do the grading, but that could cost “upwards of $3,000 or better,” he said. “(The county wants) to get some more folks trained on road graders. I told them they can come over here and train all they want.”

Keeping the fairgrounds lot smooth is particularly difficult. “The problem is that the parking lot seems to be the main place to go for people who are learning how to drive or having fun — doing doughnuts, tearing it up,” Lafollette said. So sometimes the grading job doesn’t last long.

(Columnist confession: I’ve been out to the fairgrounds parking lot with a driver-in-training. We didn’t do doughnuts, though.)

Lafollette said that right now he’s focused on getting paving done between the barns at the fairgrounds. He hopes to have the parking lot graded this fall. “It could use a little bit of gravel and grading. Also, some dust retardant.”

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