Supervisors to hear park, fairground petition

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Carson City supervisors will discuss Thursday a recent petition asking them to preserve the Carson City fairgrounds and Fuji Park.

Any decision they make could decide the city's course in dealing with the future of the Carson City Fairgrounds. City leaders say the fairgrounds is a prime location for commercial development, but community groups have protested development on the site.

Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko said while he disagrees with the technical aspects of the petition, he said it is "not reasonable to ignore" a petition supported by 3,400 registered voters.

"I don't think the board is in a position to ignore the people who petitioned them," Masayko said. "Perhaps the ordinance has some legal and technical issues, but we're going to be cognizant of what they said in the initiative. Why would you choose to ignore the will of the message they portrayed?"

The Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds presented Recorder Alan Glover with a 4,300-signature petition in November, 3,423 of which were signatures of registered voters. Specifically, the petition asks for Fuji Park and the fairgrounds "be maintained and improved in not less than its present size as a park in perpetuity."

Masayko wouldn't comment on what decision supervisors were expected to reach, except that the issue was is on the board's agenda to direct city staff to some sort of action regarding the petition.

Supervisor Richard Staub pushed in August for supervisors to allow the issue of selling the fairgrounds to be put to a vote, a sentiment with which Supervisor Pete Livermore recently agreed. A public vote is also favored by members of the Concerned Citizens. Masayko in November gave city officials until Jan. 17 to find a suitable relocation site for the fairgrounds. City and state fair officials have petitioned state officials for the use of the state's Stewart facility for a combined city fairgrounds and state fair facility.

Vivian Kuhn, Concerned Citizen outgoing president, said the decision to hear the petition is "a positive step."

"It is important that they listen to the people," Kuhn said. "This goes back to Carson City people being willing to tax themselves for parks and open space. Here they're saying, 'We don't want to lose this space of open space.' It's something (supervisors) need to listen to and not look at a technicality to disregard it."

Masayko said the evening discussion will also offer supervisors, once again, an opportunity to let Carson residents "understand what is at issue here."

"The 11 acres of Fuji Park are being preserved and improved at a cost of $2 million. That's been a done deal," Masayko said. "The 15 acres of the fairgrounds and go-cart track (are under discussion.) There are different uses provided that suitable facilities can be found. People still say, gee, Fuji Park is still at risk. The park is not at issue. It's the fairgrounds."

Carson Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg advised supervisors they could ignore the citizen petition because it asks for a zoning change, which is an administrative power beyond the scope of the initiative petition process.

The future of the park and fairgrounds has been in limbo since the city decided to sell 18 acres of unused Fuji Park property to Costco in December 1999. Since then, the city's plans for further development in the area have drawn criticism from various community groups.

If you go:

What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

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


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