Standing on top of a hill near Empire Ranch, Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens waves his hands south toward the Carson River and then north toward Eagle Valley Golf Course.
Some people might see a nice, pastoral view. Kastens and Parks Planner Vern Krahn see parks. Everywhere.
To the south is the Carson River Park. The Mexican Ditch Trail runs north to the linear ditch, where the Linear Trail and Bike Path will eventually hook up. The Mexican Ditch Trail will eventually get to the Eagle Valley Trail to the north. And there's Riverview Park due east and to the west, a Carson City filled with parks.
"It's a really important topic in this community," Kastens said. "This community is very recreation oriented. I don't know why. There's something people value in parks and recreation that they're willing to tax themselves for. You can either support and provide facilities for adults and kids to recreate or you can fund the juvenile adult jails to deal with people who have too much time on their hands."
Parks aren't just grassy areas with benches and a playground. When Krahn finished work on a small open space-oriented park at Empire Ranch, he took his kids to see it and they asked where the playground was.
"Everyone has their own ideas of what leisure is," Kastens said.
Carson City resident Jerry Crum, who is fighting cancer, recently moved from the east side of Carson to the west. But he still goes to walk at Riverview Park.
"I like to exercise a few times a week and I like nature," Crum said. "This is a perfect combination of the two. There are people that like to have different places to go. (Walking) is something I can do without taxing myself."
Milan Hall said she's glad the city is preserving its shrinking natural land and offering people a place to get away to.
"It's healthy," Hall said. "Anyone who's cooped up in a city knows things become chaotic. We need a more aggressive way to survive, a little release sometimes."
With five kids ranging in age from 12 years to 4 months, Robin Gascon appreciates the park system. Her older kids play soccer at the Edmonds Sport Complex, and she said she likes being able to watch the older kids play soccer while sitting with the younger kids at the new playground equipment.
"Parks give kids a place to gather with constructive activities rather than being out doing something else," Gascon said.
Krahn and Kastens both say parks are an investment in a community and provide economic benefits in return. After all, Kastens points out, with thousands of kids needing everything from uniforms and cleats to balls of all kinds, an economic boon is inevitable.
"I'm excited about the variety of recreational diversities from organized sports to Carson River Park we can provide," Krahn said. "Parks are changing the face of the community."