City set to purchase first open space parcel

After four years of planning and saving, Carson City supervisors will have a chance Thursday to loosen the purse strings and purchase the city's first piece of open space.

The city is getting a bargain in the process, paying $327,000 for almost 18 acres of East Carson City land worth more than $1 million.

Significant strides have been made towards saving open space in Eagle Valley such as the Bureau of Land Management's acquisition of the Silver Saddle Ranch, said Steve Hartman, chairman of the city's open space advisory committee.

However, this marks the first Question 18 money being spent on open space.

"We've tried to be pretty prudent about how we spend the money, but our charge is to acquire open space," Hartman said. "This is the first big step."

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 property involves a mix of land zoned for residential and industrial uses. Three residential lots were appraised at $170,000, and the city is offering Moffat the full price for those parcels. About 1 acre of industrial land plus 4.7 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 open space committee has had several free property proposals this year, but none of the offers has been finalized.

Hartman said the property fit the open space committee's matrix for finding open space almost perfectly. Key to the purchase is that Moffat is a willing seller, Hartman said. Besides that, the space has some elevation, which fits into protecting hillsides. It will also help link the Linear Park trail to the Mexican Ditch trail.

"One of our goals in addition to the river and hillsides is to make sure we have connections," Hartman said. "People go from one place to the other in this community. What's the point of having open space if you can't get there to enjoy it? This is one of those little pieces that provides that connection."

Moffat representative Tony Wren, a real estate consultant, said while there is a tax benefit to the donation, Moffat wanted to give something back to Nevada with the land donation.

Wren said Moffat, who lives in California, reached a point recently where he either wanted to dispose of the property or see something happen to it. He had been in the process of dividing the land to be sold as housing parcels and industrial sites.

"Now you won't have an industrial building on top of that hill," Wren said. "It's a great piece of property for the city. It's a great parcel to start their process. For what they want to accomplish, with the bike plans and stuff, it does blend well.

"When we started (planning the land's development), we weren't looking at this. We ended up putting the development plans on hold and things just kind of fell together."

There has been criticism lately that the open space committee isn't moving quickly enough to preserve open space. Hartman said the challenge is to make sure all parcels meet the goals set by the community.

"We have to make sure we're not dealing with this on emotional levels," he said. "I'm sure the community may be frustrated, but I think they'd rather have us being frugal with their money than otherwise. We're chomping at the bit, too. Just because there's a bunch of money there doesn't mean it has to be spent. The price of property is very expensive and the funds are very limited.

"Everything we've done thus far isn't glamourous, it's just the work of getting it done. This is the first time we've been able to go from beginning to end. It's nice to see something actually on the ground, something we can point to.

"I really think this is our first step. We've got a long way to go. We have our marching orders, and we have to be vigilant for opportunities."

Open space planning has been in the works since the passage of the Quality of Life Initiative in 1996. Question 18 authorized a one-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 to open space, 40 percent to parks and 20 percent for maintenance of new park projects.

The open space committee has about $2 million saved, and will earn about $700,000 a year to purchase open space land. City supervisors adopted the open space master plan in January. The plan notes five priority areas for open space acquisition such as the Carson River corridor, hillsides visible from the city and trail corridors in and outside the city.

If you go:

What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting

When: Thursday, 8:30 a.m.

Where: the Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.


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