Carson City’s Cultural Commission favors public art funds, state prison preservation

City government financial support for public art and a bid to preserve the Nevada State Prison both won backing from Carson City’s Cultural Commission Tuesday.

Commissioners voted to recommend a proposed ordinance dedicating 1.25 percent of each year’s Carson City general fund capital improvement budget to public art projects and maintenance. The ordinance, which later this year could go to the Board of Supervisors for consideration, would dedicate 1 percent to the art and one-quarter of 1 percent to its maintenance.

“The way I look at this is, we’re laying the foundation now,” said Vern Krahn, the city’s parks planner, noting a low general fund capital improvement budget is anticipated next fiscal year. Parks and Recreation Department Director Roger Moellendorf said it might be as low as $300,000 for fiscal year 2013-14, which would translate into $3,000 for art and less for maintenance. He agreed with Krahn the idea isn’t short-term, but for long-term growth of public art in the community.

Sharon Rosse, executive director of the Capital City Arts Initiative, appeared during public commenting and agreed $3,000 wouldn’t yield much.

“That would need to build,” she said.

Supervisor Karen Abowd, who is on the Cultural Commission, preferred 1.25 percent proposal to a 1 percent plan considered going into the meeting. Staff offered the option in the pre-vote presentation. Abowd also successfully backed earmarking the maintenance money only for public art going forward, not for such art already in place.

The commission voted to support Assembly Bill 356 on preserving the vacant state prison in Carson City for historic, educational and scientific purposes. The panel heard from Assemblyman Pete Livermore of Carson City, a main sponsor, and two members of the Nevada State Prison Preservation Society.

Livermore called the prison “a vital historical artifact that sits in the middle of our city.” Myron Carpenter of the society said that after seven years in Boise, Idaho, the former prison and current tourism attraction there drew 43,000 visitors and brought in more than $200,000 in revenue during 2012.

That commission vote also was a recommendation seeking support for the legislation from the Board of Supervisors, which might come Monday. The board meets then to consider its stance on several bills before Nevada’s Legislature.


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