City, park users create fairground plan

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The Carson City Fairgrounds User's Coalition has a $3 million plan to upgrade the fairgrounds, and the group wants the money from the sale of land to Costco to pay for it.

The Carson City Parks and Recreation Commission will review a plan to improve the fairgrounds and Fuji Park on Tuesday. The plan puts all park and fairground uses including parking into the existing site south of Clear Creek Road.

With the changes, coalition president Jack Andersen said the park and its users will be able to coexist with their proposed neighbor, Costco.

"We want to stay where we are," Andersen said. "We're trying to make it useful the way it is without any major improvements. It's an excellent facility out there. There's nothing wrong with it and it would be a shame to get rid of it."

The improvement list tallies a little over $3 million and includes:

- a $2 million cart track and events center building

- a 40-stall barn which would replace the old 20-stall barn and eight livestock wash racks

- portable and warm-up arenas

- bathrooms for Fuji Park

- an announcer's booth

- cook shack and office near the arena

- landscaping

- relocation of the caretaker's quarters

The price of more than 300 parking spaces was not included in the estimated costs pending agreements with Costco. About 200 parking spaces will be added to the west side of the fairgrounds where the caretaker's house currently sits. City Manager John Berkich said part of the agreement with Costco provides for grading and building the compacted dirt site, although the park plan calls for a paved site.

More than 50 diagonal parking spaces along Clear Creek Road are being proposed, as well as a 96-space lot on the south side of the park near the proposed 250-by-350-feet enclosed events center.

Andersen and Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said they thought it appropriate for money from the sale of land to Costco to be used in making park improvements.

Kastens said it should be the first priority for the money, and the Parks and Recreation Commission recommend the same thing to the Board of Supervisors in December.

"The users are the ones being affected by the sale of that land to Costco," Kastens said. "We think they should be compensated. Why shouldn't it go to the people who are affected by Costco in the first place?"

Kastens said he pursued the plan with the user's group after a February meeting between the users and city supervisors and other city officials. He said the city is not looking at a potential park relocation.

"We're not addressing that at this time," Kastens said. "That's an issue that's down the road, and that decision is beyond me. Our first task was to find out how we could coexist with Costco, and that's what this plan does."

Berkich agreed that the site is not currently being considered for development but said the issue may come up in the future.

"We have said and continue to say that at some point when Costco does end of up across the street, (development) could be an opportunity for the city," he said. "There is no effort, no opportunity, no plans for the site right now. Our efforts are entirely directed at putting Costco across the street."

About 15 acres of land north of Clear Creek Park serves as overflow parking for several fairground events.

The future of the fairgrounds and Fuji Park was thrust into public view when city supervisors added the land to the city's redevelopment district. The move allowed the city to deal with one entity rather than going through the public bid process for the land. Many park users packed city meetings regarding the site and proposed deal with Costco with the fear that the warehouse giant's development would spill over into the park or force its relocation.

Costco plans to put a 148,000-square-foot store and gas station on the land, estimated to be worth about $3 million, contingent upon supervisor approval of the entire contract April 27.

If you go:

What: Carson City Parks and Recreation Commission meeting

When: Tuesday, 5:30 p.m.

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


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