Carson City's first piece of open space nearly a done deal

Four pieces of land for the price of three. Not a bad deal considering almost 18 acres of east Carson City property could become the city's first protected piece of open space.

The city's open space committee wants to spend $327,000 from its savings to buy almost 18 acres of land worth almost $1 million.

The land, owned by William Moffat Jr., is bounded by Dave's Power Palace, the Mexican Ditch, Edmonds Drive and Hells Bells Road. The undeveloped land involves a mix of land zoned for residential and industrial uses. Three residential lots were appraised at $170,000, and the city offered Moffat the full price for those parcels. About an acre of industrial land plus 4.77 acres of land in the flood plain will cost the city $100,000.

The remaining 9.6 acres of industrial property are valued at $960,000. However, the city will pay only $57,600 for the property with the remaining $632,400 being considered a donation to the city's open space program.

The committee has had several free property proposals lately, but none of the offers has been finalized. This proposal with land that is key to the city's trail plan would be the first piece of land to be considered by the Board of Supervisors. The purchase would help link the Linear Park trail to the Mexican Ditch trail and would help the city apply a plan four years in the making.

Bruce Scott, open space committee member, helped in the negotiations for the parcel and said while he didn't know why Moffat decided to give the city such a substantial donation, he guessed that "perhaps he decided it would behoove him to go out of his way to help the community."

"I think he has a real sensitivity for not wanting to see the land developed as it could be," Scott said.

Scott said the committee also decided to put an observation area on a hill that is part of the parcel. The observation area will recognize Moffat for his generosity, as well as be an interpretive display to describe the area that can be seen from the top of the hill.

"The whole emphasis of the Quality of Life initiative was to look at open space and trails," Scott said. "This is kind of putting future trail and trailhead areas in the bank for parks and recreation. It's an investment in our trails and walkways.

"Everyone has been so supportive of open space. It's about time we did something. It's been a long time coming."

The committee also decided to create a position for an open space manager to work with the committee. Currently, city staff workload for the committee is split between the Community Development and Parks and Recreation departments. The manager's salary will be paid from open space funds.

Open space planning has been in the works since the passage of the Quality of Life initiative in 1996. Question 18 authorized a quarter of 1 percent sales tax increase to fund open space, parks and trails. The tax raises about $1.7 million a year with 40 percent going toward open space, 40 percent toward parks and 20 percent for maintenance of new park projects. The committee will only have about $700,000 a year to purchase open space land. The committee has saved about $2 million over the last three years.


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