Check the teeth on that Fuji gift horse

Carson City parks and recreation commissioners should go slow when considering a private-public partnership at Fuji Park as outlined by a developer last week, but there is potential for getting something beneficial there.

It's far from a done deal and was floated as something of a trial balloon: the developer paves a parking area to be shared with a proposed casino, as well as rearranging the horse arena.

Fairgrounds users were absolutely right to say the conceptual plan looks like it benefits the developer more than the public. We'd hardly expect anything less in a plan designed by a company that wants to buy Bodine's restaurant and nearby acreage.

The problem is that the city has a fairgrounds improvement plan and not enough money to complete it. That's a shame, because Fuji Park and the fairgrounds should be one of Carson City's prime public places, rather than the afterthought it has become.

Since residents said in a 2002 election they don't want Fuji developed, considerable work has been done on the park but not so much on the fairgrounds. Remember, too, those improvements were largely funded from the sale in 2000 of 18 acres to Costco for $3.7 million.

The park and fairgrounds may always catch the eye of developers because they are in a prime location, so city officials (and residents) must remain vigilant against anyone chipping away at the public uses of the area. That's why we were disappointed in the go-ahead for a "car show" there that will be little more than a sales rodeo.

In the case of the casino parking idea, fairgrounds users should look this gift horse in the mouth. Stare long and hard and determine what they want from any kind of deal. Put that on the table, and don't settle for less.

Maybe they'll get what they want. If not, we're pretty sure somebody else will come along with another idea.


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