Carson City equestrians and others who use the city fairgrounds picked apart a plan presented Tuesday evening to the Parks and Recreation Commission proposing to turn much of the open space into paved parking. Locals called it a plan made for the benefit of a casino developer, rather than the people.
In response to the outcry, parks and rec commissioners said the conceptual plan will be discussed with Fuji Park and fairgrounds users before any decision is made.
"This will go back to the drawing board with you involved," Commissioner Donna Curtis said to a full room in the community center. "We probably won't see this plan again until that happens."
Net Development Co. of Costa Mesa, Calif., is in the process of buying three acres where the Bodine's restaurant is on South Carson Street and Old Clear Creek Road. The developer plans to build a 30,000-square-foot western-themed casino in place of the long-standing Carson City restaurant.
For the last six months, development company owner Kevin Coleman and city officials have discussed sharing parking at the fairgrounds. The agreement is contingent on him purchasing Bodine's three-acre corner property, which is northeast of the fairgrounds. The proposed project has been kept quiet because it involves a private property sale, said parks and rec Director Roger Moellendorf.
Coleman approached the city with the idea and drew up his own plans about what it could look like, which is what brought objections from many local park users. Not only does the plan include much more paving, but the arena is plotted farther south and flipped so that it's orientated east-west.
"This was something drawn up by a developer who is concerned with having a paved area for his parking by his casino," said Jim Alexander, a member of the Northern Nevada Gaited Horse Club. "This was not drawn for the users of the city park."
Karen McCarthy, an equestrian, said the proposed orientation of the arena would be uncomfortable for spectators because they would always be sitting in the sun and getting a blast of air from the southwest.
The number of parking spaces in Coleman's casino plan would meet city requirements, but he would like to have "spill over" parking near his proposed casino. The 40,000-square-foot outdoor arena and open space is there now. He did not return a call seeking comment.
In exchange for the shared parking, Coleman would donate the labor and equipment necessary to develop the proposed improvements to the fairgrounds and park. The city has about $825,000, but that is not sufficient to complete all improvements. Coleman's donation could contribute $250,000 to $1 million toward the improvement project.
Carson City resident Jon Nowlin said the board should "beware of Greeks bringing gifts," because they could want more than parking down the road.
If approved, park and fairgrounds users would have priority over the casino for use of the parking. The park has 71 paved parking spaces around the exhibit hall. The plan proposes another 320 parking spaces in Fuji Park off Vista Grand Boulevard and in the arena area.
Beth Scott, a member of the Carson City Equestrian Alliance, said the paved parking is a disaster for horses because it easily becomes slick from "manure and urine and then you got ice skating." Shod horses can slip on the pavement and panic. Scott said the equestrians are willing to work with the developer.
-- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.
For more info
To find out more about public meetings on the proposed parking agreement, contact the parks and recreation department at 887-2363.