City officials are stalling improvements planned for the Carson City Fairgrounds and Fuji Park as they look for another location for the fairgrounds.
City Manager John Berkich said the city has started "simply conceptual" discussions with the state over the potential of moving the fairgrounds to the Stewart Indian School facility in South Carson City.
However, Pam Wilcox, administrator of the state public lands division, said the state bought the Stewart property partly to function as a secondary capital complex.
"We've had fairly informal conversations, which the city has initiated," Wilcox said. "We haven't had a formal proposal. We're didn't encourage the city in the proposal. State plans for the future of Stewart do not include Fuji Park."
Wilcox said the state has been managing Stewart for two purposes.
"One is to protect its historic integrity," she said. "The second goal is to be a state agency office complex. We paid money for it to be part of state lands."
The future of Fuji Park and the fairgrounds has been up in the air for almost a year. The city announced last December it was putting a parcel across Old Clear Creek Road from the park and fairgrounds into the city's redevelopment district. The move allowed the city to sell about 16 acres to Costco without going through the public bid process.
City supervisors in May made a tentative commitment to spend about $740,000 from the sale of the Costco on improvements to the park and fairgrounds. At the time, they were careful to remind members of the Fuji Park Users Association that nothing was set in stone.
"The biggest thing we're upset over is that it's taking so long," said Jack Andersen, president of Fuji's user group. "We have no objections to moving to Stewart. It will probably work out really well, but we don't know if the state is going to let us go over there."
Andersen noted constant delays to improvements at the fairgrounds because issues like Costco keep popping up.
"It's on hold again," Andersen said. "It's on hold till we get some answers. Fuji needs to be improved because it's dangerous."
The city has put $2.1 million from the Costco sale in the bank. Berkich said until supervisors decide what to do "no funds will be spent for any purpose."
"We intend to bring (the funds) forward when we schedule a workshop with the board on the issue of economic development (before the end of the year)," Berkich said. "Then we'll see if the board has an interest in moving the fairgrounds."
With Costco as a neighbor, the once quiet, out-of-the-way park now sits in an area that is prime for development. Berkich said the city has been approached by several interested development companies regarding the fairgrounds and Fuji Park.
"Once the deal was consummated, it got the attention of potential developers," he said.
Mayor Ray Masayko and mayoral hopeful Tom Tatro have both said there is a potential for commercial development at the fairgrounds.
"The fairgrounds probably has a greater potential to be redone and used as a commercial site," Masayko said. "I'm not prepared to include Fuji Park at this time. That's not a no. I won't be stampeded into including Fuji Park as a potential for sale with the fairgrounds at this time. It doesn't preclude it. I do have some concerns."
Masayko said the riparian area, grass trees and historic value of Fuji Park make it harder to consider the park a commercial site.
Tatro said while he sees the fairgrounds being relocated in the future, Fuji Park is a separate issue with historical significance.
"The city is working today to try and find an alternate location for at least the fairgrounds," Tatro said. "I believe the facilities will end up being moved. At this point, the park maybe a separate issue from the fairgrounds. If we could relocate the fairground facilities, come up with a nicer facility and put that land into use in a different way, it would be a win win for everybody.
"I'd like to hear everything before I say we should just move it. There should be a compelling argument before you consider moving that facility. Obviously, we built those facilities because we need them. They provide value to the community. You don't take it down unless you've got a place to go."
Andersen questions the community's level of involvement in the decisions regarding the park and fairgrounds.
"How can they talk about moving it over to commercial?" Andersen asked. "Shouldn't they be asking the public about this to try to find out what the community wants? Mr. Berkich's words are 'for the betterment of Carson City.' Whose eyes is he looking through, the community's or the city's?"