Lehighton Borough Council decides historic judging stand is unusable
TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO A former judging stand from the Carbon County Fair when it was held in Lehighton, now sits in the Lehighton Community Grove. The town's borough council has agreed to abandon plans to refurbish the bulky structure, which is over 100 years old. Although it may have historical significance, the council said refurbishing would be too expensive.
Deterioration apparently won out over historical significance for a horse racing judging stand in Lehighton.
The bulky, 30-foot high structure is well over a century old and was used when the Carbon County Fair was held in Lehighton. It will likely be torn down and scrapped.
Last night, Lehighton Borough Council said it will be too expensive to refurbish the wooden structure.
As a result, the council said it will offer the stand free of charge to any valid group or organization willing to remove it at their own expense.
If nobody expresses interest by April 30, it will be scrapped.
Currently the octagonal structure with the rusting tin, domed roof is stored at the Community Grove. The council previously expressed interest in moving it to the downtown park in Lehighton as a tourist attraction and possibly even a useful structure for special events.
Even the move from the Grove to the park would have complications. It had been stated in the past that such a move likely would have required removing and then replacing overhead utility lines because of the height of the stand.
The only bid for refurbishing the structure was received from Cornerstone Industrial at a cost of $115,000.
It was noted that due to the age of the judging stand, much of the wood in it has rotted.
The stand was used at the Carbon County Fair in Lehighton until the annual exposition was discontinued in 1993 after 120 years.
It was then moved to the parking lot of Hahn and Sons Inc. in Lehighton, an auto dealer across the park from the Community Grove, where it stood for several years.
When the dealership was sold, it was moved to the Grove.
Councilman Scott Rehrig was a longtime proponent for restoring the stand because it is one of only a few in the entire country.
Since he was a director of the fair it also has sentimental value.
"I make a motion we discontinue avenues of reconstructing the judges' stand," Rehrig said.
Rehrig also feels the stand has become a safety hazard.
"I move we remove it. Take it apart. Sell it. Whatever we have to do," he said. "If somebody would want it, they can pick it up at their expense."
John Bird, a member of the council, said he has "sentimental feelings" regarding the stand, but "a lot of it is rotted."
He added that it would no longer be a restoration, but "a copy job."
Rehrig said the borough had received a $20,000 grant toward restoration.
He said the borough will determine if this grant can be used on something else.
He also noted that the Lehighton Elks Lodge had given $200 toward the refurbishing project.