Carson City wary of taking on neighborhood parks

With the growth of property-tax revenue limited by a new state cap, Carson City supervisors are eyeing other ways to fund operations that keep growing, like neighborhood parks.

City code mandates developers provide land for neighborhood parks as well as $1,000 per home to pay for the park's construction.

Once the park is complete, the developer must maintain it for two years. After that, the city takes over.

Of 45 sites managed by the parks department, 22 are neighborhood parks.

"We have the built-in mechanism to fund the construction (of parks), but there's no mechanism to fund ongoing maintenance," said Parks and Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf.

This year, Carson City Parks and Recreation is taking over four neighborhood parks in one subdivision. In two years, parks from another subdivision will likely become Carson City's responsibility and three parks are planned for a proposed 474-home subdivision in South Carson City.

"We want to have a very adequate parks system but we have to keep an eye on revenue," said City Manager Linda Ritter.

City supervisors approved adding $66,000 to the parks department's annual budget last week for maintaining the four new parks. After approving the request, supervisors acknowledged more parks would become a problem as tax income slows and directed city staff to explore ways to switch some of the burden to neighborhoods.

A state law passed in 2003 allows local governments to create landscape maintenance districts within which residents are charged fees to pay for maintaining nearby parks. The city is researching what creating such a district would entail.

"We're looking at any options we have," said Parks and Recreation Director of Operations Scott Fahrenbruch.

If any new districts were created, they would likely only include future developments, according to Ritter.

"If you do it when a subdivision is built, then a person knows that it's part of the deal," she said. "If you ask a person to start paying for a park when they never have before, that's when it gets hard."

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.


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