A Cooke County citizens’ group is hoping its leadership encourages residents to look 17 years into the future to decide what they want for the county by 2025.

Officials with the Cooke County Planning Association — a nonprofit group of citizens, business and property owners and government officials — say their purpose is to help make long term decisions in the best interest of county residents.

Part of the association’s vision is to build a multi-purpose complex center in Cooke County.

CCPA committee member Dick Sparkman said he’s done some research on the project including touring similar venues in other counties.

Speaking during a lunchtime meeting at the Smokehouse II restaurant, Sparkman said the county has fewer residents than neighboring counties such as Denton, but that the group still feels it is possible to obtain support and funding to get a complex built.

There are at least two possible funding options, he said.

The center could be financed through the use of an event venue district, he said.

Cities and counties do have the right to levy certain taxes and issue bonds to finance a wide range of community and sports-related capital projects, according to a electronic data presentation Sparkman narrated during Friday’s meeting.

Following a public approval process, cities may use up to 25 percent of their local sales tax revenue to finance the construction of community and sports venues.

Voters would then either approve or reject the reduction of an existing local sales tax to make room for a venue tax, according to CCPA.

The other option is creating a 501c3 (nonprofit) organization and seeking donations to help pay for the building.

The complex is expected to cost at least $20 million.

Members of CCPA say they believe the complex — which could host events such as equestrian shows, conferences and conventions, trade shows, 4-H activities and Future Farmers of America events — would also make prospective residents more inclined to move to Cooke County.

“We would create something that people would look forward to visiting...something that would make people want to come live here,” Sparkman said during his presentation.

He said Cooke county is made up of a number of distinctive small towns, each with certain qualities and characteristics that make the towns special.

“Each (town) has a lot of things it can offer,” he said.

He also noted that some residents are concerned about the impact changes such as increased population could have upon their communities.

“Towns are concerned about how they can keep their individual characteristics and still make it a (progressive) place people can enjoy,” he said.

The multi-purpose complex would require approximately 75 to 100 acres. It would include an enclosed arena with seating for 5,000, meeting facilities and a 10,000-square feet exhibition hall.

Much of the facility would be devoted to livestock care. It would include a covered outdoor practice arena, 800 stalls and a storage area for various types of equipment.

The facility would also include 100 recreational vehicle parking spaces and parking for 150 livestock trailers and 2,000 cars, trucks or SUVs.

Sparkman said residents in Cooke and surrounding counties are eager to hold their events outside larger cities.

“People want to hold their events someplace besides the Dallas Convention center,” he said.

CCPA is not the only organization hoping to come up with a plan for a sports arena venue in the county.

Rod Tyler reported that the Cooke County Fair Association is looking at building a facility at the site of the Cooke County Youth Barn which was destroyed during a severe thunderstorm in April 2006.

Some members of the association are all for building at the site of the old facility. Others want to move to another location, he said.

He said the fair association is “obtaining bids for another building and trying to get it off the ground within a year.”

Right now, the CCFA has approximately $400,000 earmarked for the new facility, he said.

Both CCPA and CCFA say they welcome community input.

“We’re looking to the public for suggestions,” Tyler said.

Reporter Delania Trigg may be

contacted at dtrigg@ntin.net

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