Pony Express Pavilion may soon be community gym

Carson City will again consider converting the Pony Express Pavilion into a community gym and recreation center, but this time it will be one of several locations on the table.

The Parks and Recreation Commission turned down the idea nearly three years ago. At the time, commissioners wanted more information and said locating a gym near the new Boys & Girls Club planned for Lompa Lane was a better idea.

Residents listed the new community gym as a priority when they approved Question 18 in 1996, a ballot initiative to pay for Open Space preservation and Parks and Recreation projects. The city's aquatic center was the first project built using the funds.

"We're beginning to be a large enough community that we foresaw a need and realizing a need for another community gym," said Parks and Recreation Acting Director Scott Fahrenbruch.

City staff will again approach the commission to discuss whether converting the pavilion into a gym is feasible, how much it would cost and present a list of other locations, he said.

"The problem that we had in 2001 is we didn't give them other options," Fahrenbruch said. "We just want to throw it into mix as one of the options to consider."

The 30,000-square-foot pavilion, which opened in June 1993, was built to be an ice rink and special events center. But an ice rink owner from Sparks who was set to operate the facility for six months a year backed out at the last minute.

Since opening, the pavilion has rarely realized its full potential and has drawn fewer events than expected. It hosts an in-line hockey league, the city's Farmer's Market and events through the year. Last year's first organized summer concert series drew smaller crowds than the promoter anticipated.

When the commission considered converting the pavilion in 2001, city staff estimated it would cost $3 million.

The extra space would allow the city to host basketball tournaments, more sports programs and other special events.

With the smaller gym inside the community center next door, sports and programs run into scheduling conflicts, Fahrenbruch said.

Staff hasn't determined the pavilion will be the most ideal spot and will need to look into how much it would cost to enclose it and work out parking issues. Also, the city would need to figure out what to do with events and programs already using the space, he said.

"If we did choose to do a conversion, we would have to find a home for those folks too," Fahrenbruch said.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.


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