Carson fairgrounds to remain a recreational resource

Carson fairgrounds likely will not be sold for commercial development following Tuesday's vote that showed city residents were against it.

While townspeople who campaigned against proposed development were thrilled with the results, city officials say they already are working on alternatives.

Unofficial results showed 53.9 percent of the voters were against the sale of the fairgrounds, while 41.9 percent agreed with the question.

"We are so happy for voters in Carson City," said Susan Hoffman, member of a citizens group formed to protect the fairgrounds. "They just saved a jewel."

City officials, however, said the vote would limit their options.

"The failure of this question is a setback to our opportunity to preserve our sales tax base," said Carson City Manager John Berkich. "This tends to exacerbate the momentum and the impact that Douglas County will have on our sales tax base."

The direction provided by voters not to sell the fairgrounds will be presented to the Board of Supervisors by the end of the year, Berkich said. In the meantime, the city already has started working on contingency plans to locate available land to market for retail development.

The development of the 14-acre Carson fairgrounds started with the city's desperate attempt to find a suitable site for Wal-Mart to relocate its Carson City store. Fearing the retailer would leave for Douglas County and take $1 million in tax revenue with it, city officials tried to market Fuji Park and the fairgrounds for the new building two years ago.

Although the city failed to keep Wal-Mart in city limits, the idea to develop the site continued.

Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds petitioned city officials not to relocate or sell the park property after learning of the city's intent to place Wal-Mart at the site.

In December 2001, supervisors asked city officials to find a suitable relocation site for the fairgrounds and agreed to spend nearly $2 million on improving Fuji Park.

Supervisors decided to pose the question of whether the fairgrounds should be developed on the November ballot earlier this year.

Carson City supervisors placed the question on the ballot as a way to generate retail and property tax revenue and compete with Douglas County's continued commercial building spree in the area.

The group of residents organized against selling the property strongly campaigned that the park and fairgrounds were unique recreational resource that should be preserved.

Carson City Question 1

Carson fairgrounds

YES: 7,336 - 41.9 percent

NO: 9,437 - 53.9 percent


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