Question 18's answer is parks

Parks are such a valuable commodity, they're used as a marketing tool to sell homes.

Carson City residents thought so much of parks they taxed themselves to keep building parks.

Since the Quality of Life Initiative was passed in 1996, about $4.2 million worth of park work has been started.

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 towards open space, 40 percent towards parks and 20 percent for maintenance of new park projects.

In the late 1980s a bond was passed and used to build places such as Centennial Park. The problem with the bond, Park and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said, was that while it built parks, it left no money for maintenance of those parks.

When people decided to pursue more park funds, Kastens said he would have quit before undergoing another bond issue that left the department with more park than it could care for. The attraction of Question 18 was that it provides an ongoing stream of money while setting aside 20 percent for park maintenance, Kastens said.

The city sold a $4.7 million bond in 1998 to get started on Question 18 projects. The biggest project is the $3.6 million Aquatic Facility that, despite delays, should be be completed in January. Other projects are more subtle but no less important, insists Park Planner Vern Krahn.

The parks department has several projects under way that aim to do what Question 18 promoted - improve the quality Carson residents' lives.

-- The Linear Park and Bike Path starts at the edge of Governor's Field off Roop Street. It's not a park in the sense of grass and playground equipment, but it does promote recreation.

"This link from Roop Street to the Mexican Ditch is probably the major east-to-west link in the city's trail plan," Kastens said of the 1.5 mile path.

The trail follows a ditch that carries runoff water from the mountains to the Carson River. The ditch is full of cattails, offering walkers, bike riders and horseback riders a piece of unmanicured nature. The roughly 2 mile stretch starting at Roop Street looks like a small highway, paved with a dotted yellow line down the middle.

By the time the path gets to Saliman Road, it's dirt - but all that will change as the project finishes up.

Construction workers are building a bridge crossing the ditch across from Freemont Elementary School that will take pedestrian traffic from the south side of the ditch to the north side.

The path runs to the prison near Fifth Street but will eventually run under the freeway and head to the Mexican Ditch Trail past Edmonds Drive. Kastens sees a path for kids to ride their bikes to school and to community activities without fighting traffic.

"My idea of linear is that it goes on and on through the community," Kastens said.

Project cost: $202,190 ($69,500 came from a Sims Trail grant).

-- Leaves rustle in the wind at Carson River Park. It's quiet there, but signs of recent construction are everywhere.

The most noticeable change is the newly paved parking lot with white stripes. A purple screened portable toilet and sand replacement called decomposed granite has been packed into the trails to provide a smooth path without concrete.

A few hundred feet south of the parking lot, old bridge abutments will be used to support a fishing pier. There's a tree in that spot, but the pier will be built around it. On the east side of the river, a bank stabilization project is under way to repair damage from the 1997 flood.

Willows are lying in bundles near Lloyds Bridge waiting to take root and be planted.

Project cost: $94,598.

-- Wind sweeps towards Edmonds Sports Complex with a fury. Probably the only thing holding the newly planed seeds for the new soccer fields is the leprechaun-green mulch gluing them down.

About 85 extra spaces in the new parking lot are finished and striped, and work on the irrigation system is wrapping up. An area for a portable concession stand complete with water hookups is ready to be used.

Next spring, the thousands of youth that play sports at the park will have three new fields on which to play. One of the fields will be multi-use for football and soccer.

The facility draws at least 1,600 players from the American Youth Soccer Organization during the late spring and summer months, and another 2,000 kids playing year-round soccer, little league and and Pop Warner football.

It also has a BMX bike course and buildings were recently completed for BMX uses.

Project cost: About $580,000. The project should be finished by Dec. 15.

-- The Rifle and Pistol Range is nestled out of the way near the city landfill. There's no grass at this park project, but it has had $150,000 worth of improvements in recent months. The range has been cleaned and improved through $55,000 of Question 18 monies, $35,000 from residential construction monies and $60,000 from a Pittman/Robertson Hunter Educational Grant.

The biggest improvement on the 40-acre site is the addition of a four-bay pistol range. The bays are separated by roughly 8-foot dirt berms and will allow local gun clubs to hold safer competitions.

During competitions participants can move safely from one bay to another while targets are changed in other bays without interrupting competition.

Other improvements include drainage improvements and making the area handicap accessible. Berms between shooting areas that were eroding were also reconstructed.

Future improvements will be made as money is available and include elements such as a hunter training safety course. The course would be used to provide a practical environment to teach people what situations they could face when hunting.


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