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May 10, 2014
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Scene in Passing: Big MAC attack finding new battleground

The much-traveled plan to build a quality Carson City athletic center might just be on the move again.

When the Board of Supervisors tackles the matter Thursday, at issue is whether to have staff investigate switching the multi-purpose athletic center (MAC) site from next to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada over into Mills Park.

Let’s cut to the chase. Staff already knows that’s on the table, as evidenced by time line documents projecting for several capital projects. The Big MAC, an $8.5 million project, is called that because an alternative Little MAC had been considered. It was the alternative until the city’s governing board hiked city sales tax $12.50 per $10,000 in taxable goods purchased. Resultant revenue to do projects will start hitting city coffers in October.

Supervisor Jim Shirk has been urging a MAC change to Mills Park for months while trying to alter the taxing scheme, so there is at least one board vote to switch sites. Supervisor Brad Bonkowski recently said the switch should at least be considered, though he didn’t tip his hand on his eventual vote.

This was a hexed project up to now. The MAC, conceived in the 1990s, began getting serious consideration about a decade ago. But inability to partner with Western Nevada College on their campus and a recession that depleted capital funds, even as building costs didn’t abate, kept it at bay. Back-and-forth on building a smaller project or holding out for the larger version made it look lost in limbo.

Mills Park might or might not work. A Pony Express Pavilion and skate board park are at one end. The Community and Aquatic centers, plus tennis courts, are at the other. The small train and tracks wind meander around; field game greenery, a great open expanse, has a backdrop of wondrous trees. So where does the BIG Mac and its parking go? Where does the Wendy Robards Universal Dream Park, with its all access idea, go? It already was given preliminary blessings.

In other words, when does this great green space become another cluttered urban complex with fewer trees or fields? No agenda here; just questions.

Still no agenda, but Mark Beauchamp of Carson City’s Shaheen Beauchamp Builders once raised concerns with me about the costly project and the city’s decision to use a MAC construction-manager-at-risk process rather than a traditional low bid process. Reasons for the latter have been aired by public officials, but seem to boil down to this: it worked well for Carson City’s school district construction projects.

Then there is the final question: Why wasn’t this potential site switch a prominent part of the public dialogue or voiced by anyone except Shirk before the city sales tax hike decision?

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The Nevada Appeal Updated May 10, 2014 11:55PM Published May 10, 2014 11:55PM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.