Open Space committee looking to land land

With a freshly approved plan in its hands, Carson City's open space committee is getting ready to start the real work.

The open space committee meets Monday to start the work that took three years to plan, and the committee members are looking for as much public comment as possible.

For the first time, they will begin to look at what land they can buy. As of Jan. 1 about $1.6 million has been generated by Question 18 for open space. The committee will have about $700,000 a year to purchase land to designate as open space.

"Now that we've got the plan approved, we can start with the acquisition of land," Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said. "We've had landowners ask if we want to purchase land. We need to go back and visit those requests and try to determine how to get the word out to the community that we are ready to review proposals. "

The committee is also looking at setting up times for public meetings to gain resident comment on connecting open space parcels to the rest of the city and on which parcels should be considered for open space acquisition.

When city supervisors approved the plan in early January, they recommended that committee members hire an open-space coordinator.

Kastens said he's hesitant to ask the committee members to spend money on staffing. He admits, however, that the task of serving as staff to the committee is a balancing act for himself, Park Planner Vern Krahn and Community Development employees Walt Sullivan and Juan Guzman.

"I have mixed feelings to using the funds to fund people instead of acquisition of land," Kastens said. "We're going to have to have additional help to get this thing to work, we're just not sure what the time frame for that is. I don't want to spend the money on bureaucracy, but it takes bureaucracy to get it to work."

Committee members will begin asking Monday for public comment on hiring for the position .

Open space consultant Jeff Winston will probably be kept on board to help get the plan going.

"This open space stuff is fairly new," Kastens said. "We're the first in Nevada to do it, and it's new to the West. I'm not sure we understand how much work is involved in this. We'd like to get started and see exactly what is involved. Having (Winston's) knowledge and background will help give us what we need to get the plan started."

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.

If you go:

What: Carson City Open Space Advisory Committee meeting

When: Monday, 6 p.m.

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


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