Supervisors to pick six to draft fairgrounds ballot question

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Carson City supervisors will choose Thursday from among 15 applicants to draft language for and against a ballot question on selling and developing the city's fairgrounds.

Six people will be selected to draft 400-word arguments and 200-word rebuttals to the following question:

"While retaining and improving the area known as Fuji Park, should Carson City make available for commercial development City property known as the Carson City Fairgrounds?"

Four Carson residents -- Susan and Mike Hoffman, Jeanne Yaple, Jon Nowlin and Charles Kuhn, all members of the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park -- applied in opposition to the city's proposal.

"As one of the original filers of the Fuji Park and Fairgrounds initiative petition and one of the organizers of the petition drive, I am very familiar with the issues behind this ballot question," Nowlin wrote. "There is substantial concern on both sides of this question that the pro and con arguments for the ballot provide clear statements of factual information for the ultimate decision by the voters. I would like to participate in drafting a clear statement of the issues and have appropriate communication skills for that effort."

The 10 who applied in favor of the city's effort are Wayne Pedlar, chairman of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce and a city planning commissioner; Patrick Anderson; Jack Andersen, president of the Fuji Park and Fairgrounds Users Coalition; John Wagner; Karl Neathammer; Michael Burgoon; John Utt; and Glen Martel, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Applicant Dyovne Modarelli is listed as in favor of the proposal, but her comments noting "we must save Fuji Park and the

Fairgrounds" indicate she is opposed to the city's proposal.

Burgoon wrote that he and his wife retired to Carson from Orange County nine years ago.

"I saw Orange County go bankrupt because of poor investment choices," he wrote in his application. "My wife and I love Carson City and want to see it progress and be able to support (the) needs of an increasing population without raising taxes. I think commercial development of the fairground property would generate valuable tax revenue which would provide needed income to support needed city services."

Pedlar noted Carson City's heavy reliance on sales tax to support its operations, and wrote the fairgrounds "are bordered by developable land directly to the south in Douglas County.

"If there is not in alternative location in Carson City close to magnet retailers in North Douglas County, businesses will locate there rather than in Carson City, talking sales tax dollars with them," he wrote in his application. "Developing the fairgrounds while retaining Fuji Park offers developers an alternative to North Douglas County."

After their appointments, committee members will have until May 3 to submit their arguments to Carson City Clerk Recorder Alan Glover. The question will appear on the November ballot.

The fairgrounds, 20 acres of city land off Old Clear Creek Road sandwiched between commercial development to the north and south, has been the center of controversy since the city decided in 1999 to sell 18 acres of vacant Fuji Park property to Costco. While neighboring Fuji Park was protected from development, city leaders offered the fairgrounds parcel last year to Wal-Mart in a bid to keep the retail giant in the capital. A 3,400-signature petition against selling the property convinced city supervisors to ask for an advisory vote on the issue before taking further action.

If you go:

What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 8:30 a.m., Thursday

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


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