Moving the fairgrounds to the east side of town would open new possibilities including a link to the proposed V&T Railroad project and allowing the Capital to host the state fair, say supporters of Carson City's ballot Question 1.
But opponents hammered away as they have for months saying the project would cost $5 million to $9 million -- compared with $900,000 to upgrade the existing park -- without any guarantee of benefits to the city.
The ballot question asks whether the supervisors should be allowed to "make available for commercial development" the fairgrounds portion of Fuji Park while protecting the park itself. City officials say the fairgrounds area adjacent to U.S. 395 and Highway 50 is prime commercial land that could be sold to a major retailer for enough cash to offset most of the cost of moving and building a new, larger and better fairgrounds on Flint Drive at the eastern side of Carson City.
The two sides debated the issue Monday night at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters at the Carson City Community Center.
Al Christianson, chairman of the Carson City Planning Commission, said he envisions a fairgrounds joining the V&T as it arrives from Virginia City, expanding the possibilities for tourist attractions from the historic railway project.
"And I see a fairgrounds that could become a state fairgrounds," he said.
But Jon Nowlin of Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park said the site is bad -- in fact ugly -- and would cost the city millions it could never reclaim. He also questioned whether Carson residents want a state fairgrounds, pointing out that many groups use the existing site because it is smaller and more affordable than a larger venue.
Nowlin also protested the suggestion that the city should sell the land because it is commercially valuable saying it is valuable as open space and a public resource. He said selling such a resource when it's not necessary sends a bad message to the public about Carson City's priorities.
Concerned Citizens tried unsuccessfully to put a measure on the ballot that would bar the city from selling or reducing the size of Fuji Park and the fairgrounds. They were denied by the Nevada Supreme Court on grounds that is an administrative decision within the power of the city's elected legislative body, the Board of Supervisors.
Instead, the city put the advisory Question 1 on the ballot asking whether Carson City should protect the park but "make available for commercial development city property known as the Carson City Fairgrounds."
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