Parks commission backs Fuji Park users' vision for future

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By sinking about $3 million into the Carson City Fairgrounds, the area can coexist with its proposed neighbor, Costco, and become a bigger tourism draw, users said Tuesday.

"We'll use the park no matter what, but with these improvements we'll be able to pull more people here," said Jack Andersen, president of the Fuji Parks Users Coalition.

A $3 million vision for the Carson City Fairgrounds was accepted Tuesday by the Carson City Parks and Recreation Commission.

"The check is not yet in the mail," Chairman John Simms warned happy members of the Fuji Parks Users Coalition.

The plan calls for construction of an 87,500-square-foot covered convention center with a $2 million price tag. The convention center would also be used as an indoor go-cart track. Park Commissioner Jim Dunn was concerned the center would serve a only a few groups of people.

"Is that the right place for an events center and is it the right way to spend $2 million?" Dunn asked.

Commissioner Stacie Wilke pointed out that the center would give people a place for events in the winter. Park users said it could be used for anything.

Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said the first priority for the park would be to create parking.

The price of more than 300 parking spaces was not included in the estimated costs per 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. Part of the agreement with Costco provides for grading and building the compacted dirt 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 convention center.

The group's plans also call for moving the park caretaker's quarters, another necessary change, Kastens said.

The threat that the fairgrounds may be moved still hangs over the group. The commission approved the vision for the park with the understanding that most of the improvements - including the convention center - could move with the park and fairgrounds.

"Believe me, we don't want to move," Andersen said. "If it's mandated, though, all this stuff can move with us."

Kastens said almost everything at the fairgrounds except some landscaping and infrastructure improvements could be moved.

The plan puts all park and fairground uses, including parking, into the existing fairgrounds.

The commission also recommended, for the second time, that the Carson City Board of Supervisors use all the money from the sale of 15 acres of land to Costco to refurbish the area south of the proposed Costco site.

The land, estimated to be worth about $3 million, lies north of Clear Creek Road and serves as overflow parking for several fairground events.

"All we wanted was to put in the commissioners' minds what we'd like to see done," Andersen said. "We've heard that the supervisors want to move it. But if the Parks and Recreation Commission supports us, that's another feather in our hat."

The future of the fairgrounds and Fuji Park was thrust into public view in December when city supervisors added the land to the city's redevelopment district as a first step in selling the property to Costco.

The move allowed the city to deal with one entity rather than going through a 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 into the park or force its relocation.

Costco plans to put a 148,000 square-foot store and gas station on the land, if supervisors approve a contract on April 27.


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