UNR stops paying rent on fire academy

RENO - The University of Nevada, Reno is withholding its rent checks on the Fire Science Academy at Carlin amid a dispute over who should pay for $2 million to $3 million needed in repairs.

Tom Ray, chief counsel for the University and Community College System of Nevada, made the announcement Friday to the Board of Regents. It comes barely a week after UNR President Joseph Crowley closed most of the academy so that repairs could be made to a liquid-capture system.

Ray said design flaws at the year-old facility prompted concerns of groundwater and soil contamination at the $27 million site. He added that the site's owner, Sacramento-based All Star Investments LLC, is responsible for the repairs.

''I've notified All Star that the university has suspended the payment of rent,'' Ray said.

UNR and All Star will meet Aug. 16 in hopes of ending the impasse over fixing the flaws, which were detected months ago.

If that meeting or ones that follow are unsuccessful, Ray said litigation would be likely.

The problem centers on the academy's water-treatment system, which is designed to catch gasoline and diesel fuel mixture runoff during firefighting training.

A groundwater sample taken June 13 showed a reportable level of the petroleum byproduct benzene. A second test turned up traces of the gasoline additive MBTE, although they were one-tenth of reportable levels.

During efforts to identify the source, several operational problems were revealed. After a thorough assessment of the system, academy management decided to discontinue burning.

All Star has sent investigators to the academy to determine what needs to be fixed, and has said that it designed the facility to the university's specifications.

The investment company put up $27 million to build the academy, which was built by Clark & Sullivan Contractors of Sparks.

UNR had been paying $230,000 a month to All Star under a 20-year contract to buy the facility.

Ray has said if the company will not make the repairs, the university may try to back out entirely from the hefty lease, which has contributed to other financial concerns at the academy in the past.


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