How legislators’ actions affected Carson City | NevadaAppeal.com

How legislators’ actions affected Carson City

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Nevadans are only beginning to sort out the impact of the actions – and inactions – by state legislators now that the 74th session is over. This includes Carson City officials.

For example, state money for the city and Western Nevada Community College to build a joint-use recreation center on the college campus didn’t materialize. The college sought $10 million for its share of the project.

The city now will look at other options, such as constructing a center at the designated alternate location by members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, JohnD Winters Centennial Park, said Roger Moellendorf, parks director.

“We’ll have to see if that’s the direction we want to take,” he said. “And we have to determine what type of center we want to build.”

The preliminary plan with the college called for a $20 million project consisting of a 67,000-square-foot, three-story building at the end of West College Parkway. It would have provided classrooms, a multipurpose gymnasium, indoor walking track, cardio-fitness area and a leisure pool.

Now that the city might be going it alone with the project, it would be a much smaller building because the budget now is only $10 million, Moellendorf said.

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City Manager Linda Ritter expressed concern about the city being able to operate a new center by itself. Waiting two more years to take the idea back to legislators isn’t very likely, however, he said.

“There’s not a lot of interest in waiting because the need for more facilities is great,” Moellendorf said. “And inflation really chips away at buying power.”

Another piece of legislation that didn’t make it through was a request for $8 million in additional funding for reconstruction of the tourist V&T Railway route from Gold Hill to Carson City.

Legislators provided $5 million for the project 10 years ago but the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T could not provide matching funds required to use it. The commission now has $35 million that could be used to show the project is viable.

The total estimated project cost is $54 million.

“I was disappointed,” said Mayor Marv Teixeira, who serves on the railway commission. “But we’ll probably try again in 2009.”

The Chinese Workers Museum, however, has received $50,000 from the state general fund.

Originally requested for this project was $100,000 to offset costs for the planning and design of the 250,000-square-feet museum on an 80-acre site near the southeast corner of Highway 50 east and Drako Way. It would be near the planned V&T Railway route and the Carson River, which is targeted for enhanced recreational use and also being marketed as a tourist attraction.

“Overall, the legislators didn’t have a lot of money for anything, but we were very successful,” said Mary Walker, of Walker & Associates. She’s a political consultant who lobbied at the Legislature for Carson City, and Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties grouped together as the Western Nevada Legislative Coalition.

Another bill that made it through the Legislature is the city’s charter change requests that puts in place a succession procedure if the mayor dies or resigns midterm, and allows the sheriff to add a sixth employee that would be exempt from the city’s merit personnel system.

The city also will continue being eligible for state money to maintain roads after legislators opted to raise the maximum community population to 100,000. Carson exceeded the current 50,000 population ceiling. Without the change, Carson’s population rising above that number would have caused the city to lose out on financial help with road maintenance projects.

“This is big,” said Andy Burnham, the city’s public works director. “It’ll save the city some money.”

And a bill originally sought by Douglas County reduces the level of liability that could be incurred by owners of property near public trails if someone is hurt or dies while knowingly being on the adjacent private property could also benefit Carson City, Walker said.

“Private-property owners feel pressure about the liability issue,” she said. “This might make it easier to build more trails in the future.”

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.

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