Flint site most available for fairgrounds, not necessarily the best

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One Carson City supervisor argued Flint Drive is the most available site for a relocation of the city's fairgrounds, but it isn't the best site.

Despite Supervisor Richard Staub's objection, city leaders Thursday chose about 300 acres near the city's landfill in East Carson City as the potential future home of the fairgrounds.

City officials await the outcome of a November vote that will determine whether the fairgrounds will be moved. If the vote determines the fairgrounds should be sold for commercial development, city officials want to be prepared with another site.

Working with the Fuji Park and Fairgrounds Users Coalition, city parks officials have winnowed a list of potential relocation sites from their number one preferred site, the state's Stewart facility, to the Flint site -- at one point the least preferred site on the list.

When supervisors agreed in January to an advisory vote on the controversial fairgrounds issue, Staub said city leaders should continue to shop for a better location for the fairgrounds than its current site.

"I did emphasize 'better site,'" Staub said. "We've taken enough heat on the fairgrounds issue. I hate to go through a process like this and not get the best site. I don't think it's the best site; it's the most available."

Staub argued the county line site, Bureau of Land Management property east of Eagle Valley Golf Course managed as permanent open space, is a better site even though the federal approval process to build on the land would take up to two years to complete. The Flint site, however, is readily available for public uses.

Staub said he also questioned whether either site was better than the current location. Staub said city officials could take the necessary two years to secure the county line site, although Mayor Ray Masayko countered if the November vote is to move the fairgrounds, the city would "fast track" the process.

"That's why we're doing this now," Masayko said. "We're not continuing to spin our wheels, we are out there taking action. We're not building the MGM hotel -- we're building an arena, horse barns and some stands. It's not a major structural process.

"We have to have it where we have land and are able to accomplish it in a certain amount of time," he added. "We're making the best decision we possibly can."

Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said the BLM has asked the city for a complete proposal for uses at the Flint Drive site. Kastens also argued deciphering what "better" site meant was difficult when charged with working with groups of people all with different ideas of what makes a good site.

Also, he said, while Flint Drive was at one point the least desirable site, the city's decision to keep and improve Fuji Park eliminated complaints of the site lacking trees and a stream similar to the current site.

Supervisors also approved Thursday an estimated $1 million in improvements to Fuji Park slated for construction this summer.

The project is split into two parts to accommodate uncertainty over what improvements will be needed if the fairgrounds stay put.

The first phase of the project includes paving a parking lot around the convention center, a playground, construction of new restrooms, the addition of electrical outlets in the ground, renovation of the picnic shelter and some grading work to prepare for future turf and parking. The second phase includes a new picnic shelter, an irrigation system, turf and a paved parking lot on the park's west side.

The improvements are funded by money from the sale of land adjacent to Fuji Park to Costco and Question 18 funds. The city received around $3.7 million for the 18 acres sold to Costco in 2000, and has around $1.7 million left which has been promised for park and fairgrounds improvements.

The city is looking to move the fairgrounds and commercially develop the property in light of development pressures in South Carson City. The city also awaits a ruling from the state Supreme Court on which of two conflicting questions regarding the fairgrounds and Fuji park will be placed on this fall's ballot.


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