Mills Park may get finishing touch

A large-scale renovation in the southeast corner of Mills Park would be a welcome change for property owner James Viano, who owns 16 rental units that back up to the currently dry landscape.

If Carson City supervisors approve $336,752 for irrigation, turf and an exercise center at today's meeting, five acres of arid land will be made usable for the first time in Mills Park history.

"I'm all for it; it's money well spent," Viano said. "I like the park. Old man Mills did pretty good when he donated it."

Viano has owned the neighboring land for more than two decades and built several condominiums and four-plexes backing up to the park parcel. During construction he installed a gate that allows neighbors access into the southeast corner of the park.

Looking through the chain links at the back of his property, the five-plus acres of unused land looks dismal. Brown grass suffers from the dry summer season, and dirt lies exposed at the edge of the recently remodeled Wungnema House.

The project would complement the historic home, while providing land for use by Carson High School students during nutrition and lunch breaks, said Steve Kastens, director of Carson City Parks and Recreation

"Right now it just looks unfinished," he said. "This will finish it.

"With the Wungnema House already completed, this is basically landscaping. And we decided to add an exercise course."

The course will be a twist on traditional courses that make users run from station to station. Park planner Vern Krahn said all of the stations will be grouped together in an approximately 30- by 30-foot area.

As part of 1996's Quality of Life initiative, the project has been long-anticipated by the department. Planners also incorporated the Carson City Arboretum's plan for Mills Park, which will add variety to the landscape with groves of unusual trees and shrubbery.

"There will be many varieties of trees," Krahn said. "City (residents) can look at it and it becomes an educational tool for them. It's more than just planting a few trees and shrubs out there.

"The arboretum wanted to diversify the urban forest at Mills Park."

As part of the proposed project, local contractor Interstate Utility Constructors anticipates $48,000 for construction of an effluent water line to the property which will eventually serve the whole park once a citywide system is complete.

With water at a premium, and the city's utility department is operating at higher capacity because of a recently added third treatment facility, effluent water is being dispatched for parks, schools and golf courses throughout the city.

Kastens said effluent water is approximately one-quarter the cost of potable water.

He said the recent installation of effluent service at Governor's Field on Roop Street has worked out well.

"I've never seen the turf on the football field look that good," Kastens said. "We're finding that for grass, the water must have all kinds of nutrients in it."

If the park funding passes, the city's utility department will carry the cost of the effluent line. The water would actually start flowing once Carson High School is on the system.

The slated Mills Park improvements include:

- hydroseed and sod installation

- planting of trees, shrubs and other flowers

- access road and path to Wungnema House

- three benches and two picnic tables

"One of the characters of Mills Park is free flowing linear sidewalks," Krahn said. "We want to continue that character into the east end of the park. Part of this whole plan is to replicate the west end of Mills Park into the east end."

Landscaping improvements will also adorn the Vietnam War Memorial.

Local veterans donated a flagpole and $2,100 for new trees that will be planted around the memorial. Krahn said a lighting system for the flagpole will also be added. The memorial will be moved a short distance northwest of its current position.


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