Fair Board and Market Place operator make up

The Orange County Fair Board has taken initial steps to reaffirm the Orange County Market Place contract.

The board of directors at its meeting Thursday approved 6 to 0 the financial terms and conditions — with Doug La Belle, Ali Jahangiri and David Ellis absent — after finalizing them with the Tel-Phil Enterprises negotiating team during a closed session.

The decision is one step in the process to develop a long-term rental agreement with Tel-Phil, the company that operates the weekend swap meet at the fairgrounds.

The proposed contract is good for 10 years beginning in 2014, with an option to renew for an additional 10, said board Chairman Stan Tkaczyk.

The board estimates that by 2033, Tel-Phil will have paid about $43.1 million in rent.

"What we agreed on were the financial issues of the contract," Tkaczyk said. "We had a unanimous vote. That speaks volumes."

The board's relationship with Tel-Phil hasn't always been a smooth one.

In September 2011, the board voted to break its relationship with the swap meet operator after 42 years over financial disputes. However, two months later, the board voted to withdraw the notice to end the group's contract.

At that point, the board and Tel Phil agreed to continue working on their disagreements and vowed to come together on cross-promoting the swap meet and fair, finding ways to increase swap meet business.

Ryan Miller, vice president of operations for Tel-Phil, was enthusiastic about the board's vote, which he said has been two years in the making.

"It feels like we finally got to the finish line," he said.

The board's legal team will review and finalize the agreement, which will come back to the board in December for final approval, said Doug Lofstrom, the fairground's chief executive officer.

The decision was a move in the right direction for the fairgrounds, since Tel-Phil operates one of the best swap meets and market places in the state, Tkaczyk said.

"There's something there for kids and adults," he said. "If you go to the other [market places], they don't have that full venue."

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