Ballot drafters selected

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Carson Area Chamber of Commerce president Wayne Pedlar, local commentator Karl Neathammer and Carson resident John Utt were selected Thursday to draft ballot language in favor of selling the city's fairgrounds.

Carson City supervisors Thursday also selected Jon Nowlin, Mike Hoffman and Jeanne Yapple, all members of the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds, as ballot drafters opposed to the city's proposal.

"Seriously, this is going to be hard work, and you have some time frames you're going to have to work with," Supervisor Jon Plank said after thanking the 16 applicants.

The six will compose in public meetings 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?"

Mayor Ray Masayko asked all applicants what they thought Carson residents needed to know in the ballot language.

Neathammer, co-host of Carson Crossfire on local cable access television, said city leaders would have to raise property taxes "if we don't get the sales tax we need if we don't sell the fairgrounds."

Applicants on both sides noted the ballot language need to clear up misconceptions. Applicant John Wagner said the task of the committees was to "separate facts or fiction."

"The way to save the fairgrounds is to move it," he said. "Fuji Park isn't going anywhere. We can't have a fairgrounds there, there aren't the facilities. Renovating it is like pouring money down into a rat hole."

Nowlin and Hoffman, Concerned Citizen president, said they had been grouped in a "good team" in which each member understands issues surround the fairgrounds controversy.

"As Mills Lane said, 'Let's get it on,'" Hoffman said.

Pedlar said for the community to grow and be healthy, there has to be a variety of development. The fairgrounds, he said, is the appropriate location for commercial development. He said he doesn't expect the Chamber of Commerce to take a stand on the issue until after the ballot language is drafted.

Clerk Alan Glover previously had planned to give the group until May 3 to draft the ballot language, but said Thursday he would likely extend the deadline. Ballot language for the placement on the November ballot isn't due until July 15.

"We'll see if they think it can be done," Glover said. "This is new for all of us so we'll see how they do. I'm sure they want to get this done."

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.


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