East side residents do not want workforce housing

Carson City's proposed federal lands bill - especially the prospect of affordable housing being built on the east side - drew a standing-room-only crowd to a workshop Thursday night.

The Board of Supervisors held the special session to learn more about the bill and what residents would like to see included.

"Many people on the east side are opposed to what the state is proposing for that piece of property," said resident Leonard Swisher. "We'd prefer to see it designated as open space or as a local park adjoining the Prison Hill property."

Swisher and virtually everyone else raised their hands when asked if they were there about the 31-acre site south of Fifth Street between Fairview Drive and Carson River Road.

The state is eyeing it for workforce housing. No application for housing there has been filed with the city, however.

Nearby, Prison Hill and Silver Saddle Ranch - now controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management - are being considered for park, recreation, preserve and open space uses. Other sites are being eyed for flood control, watershed and drainage needs, economic development and fire fuels management.

While removal of fire fuels can make significant difference in preventing fires and lessening their damage, it's "very, very difficult to stop all fires from happening," said Fire Chief Stacey Giomi.

He suggested money be set aside for fire management and fire suppression, "we live in a wildfire region," he said.

He cited the fire Wednesday night at the base of C Hill as an example of how fire prone the community is. People at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1331 McKay Drive were evacuated. Wider residential evacuations were being planned before firefighters gained control of the blaze.

"It could have been catastrophic," Giomi said.

Swaps for control of various parcels around the city could result in the sites being managed by different government entities than is the case now. The city doesn't have money to buy land it might acquire as a result of this proposal so most of the pieces will be traded among local, state, federal and other controlling parties.

Supervisor Shelly Aldean would prefer the overall amount of acreage acquired through a lands bill be minimized and that more focus be put on renegotiating management agreements the city has with the landowners.

With ownership the city "would have huge liabilities," she said. "Fires destroy homes."

Aldean also would like to see money that might come from the federal government to help manage sites it ends up controlling used to create an endowment for fire control and suppression.

About 50 sites across the city are included in the proposal, which was presented to members of several community panels before reaching the supervisors. The proposal will require federal legislative approval before any changes occur. Modifications to the city's request are expected once it gets into the hands of federal officials.

The city could obtain up to 5,000 acres as a result of the lands bill. Without development or other improvements, maintenance could cost the city an estimated $175,000 per year, according to research by Resource Concepts Inc.

The next meeting and the supervisors final vote on the proposal is scheduled on Jan. 18.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.

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