Dalton McMurtrie competes in the bull riding event at the Smackdown Tour at Fuji Park in Carson City, Nev., on Saturday, June 7, 2014.
Carson City’s Parks and Recreation Committee has approved updating the Fuji Park Master Plan with the addition of a cooling system to the horse barn at the request of 4-H and other groups that use the facility extensively.
The vote followed a presentation Tuesday given by city parks project manager Nick Wentworth and discussion during the board’s monthly meeting.
“Our vision at Fuji is for it to remain the focal point for large community events whether they’re inside or outside,” Wentworth said.
Feedback compiled from several surveys sent out in November to Carson City residents and neighboring groups such as Douglas County and the Stewart Indian Colony, Wentworth said, found the biggest priority is to keep Fuji as user-friendly as possible.
Wentworth noted events held at the park’s arena and Exhibit Hall including car and dog shows are among Carson’s largest successes, and the park has been the ideal location for all of them, though in recent years, equestrian events have dwindled. Saving a space for a pavilion remains an option, and adding a driveway over to the pond area would be a priority, he said. Landscaping as a buffer from Carson Street would be a necessary visual change. Feedback also denoted arena expansion to attract a more diverse crowd of renters, removing the permanent pens in place and moving the announcer’s booth would be helpful, if somewhat problematic.
The survey also focused on parking and seating capacity for large events, specifically pertaining to the arena parking lot; Baily’s Pond, which has been grant funded but the survey asked whether more improvements are needed; and environmental considerations to Clear Creek’s waterway and what might be done to protect the area.
“Baily Pond is a great asset and gets used on a daily basis, and we didn’t want to detract from any of that,” Wentworth reported Tuesday. “I think there were 80-plus comments about adding grass to the dog park, making it nicer and getting rid of the dirt.”
The Board of Supervisors and the Redevelopment Advisory Citizens Committee first tasked city staff with an update to the master plan update in 2019 to determine better use of Fuji Park. The arena had been underused with capacity limits, though parking limitations had been identified. Events in general were becoming less marketable and residents began expressing concerns about dog park needs, including installing and maintaining grass.
Commissioner Janice Caldwell stated she was disappointed at a past event that didn’t help provide grass for the dog park.
“I was active in the (Parks 4 Paws fundraiser), and we were very involved in getting the fencing, but we were very disappointed we couldn’t get grass … but if you’re proposing to put it back the way it was, I presume you’ll be maintaining and keeping it up so everybody could enjoy it the way it was before we couldn’t have grass,” Caldwell said.
Wentworth said the idea is to create a 10- to 20-foot perimeter with a maintenance-friendly area including turf similar to what’s being done at Sonoma Park. There would be staggered closures and staff would take about four weeks to reseed, add trees and benches to benefit users and dog walkers attending the park. Wentworth said it wouldn’t actually add any grass but would remove lawn near the stage area and the new pavilion.
Also in the survey, citizens were asked about the frequency of use of Fuji Park, whether it was daily, weekly, several times a year or less and during which seasons. Questions also addressed which facilities they thought needed improvements and what programs, events or amenities should be offered. Responses varied from summer concerts and clothing drives to golf courses and bike parks.
Commissioner Lee-ann Keever asked about the halls during the summer and animal storage.
“I noticed during the fair, the hall where livestock is exhibited is quite hot and needs fans,” Keever said. “Has something like that been considered?”
“That was Cooperative Extension and 4-H’s No. 1 request,” Wentworth said. “We plan on demolishing that. It should have been redtagged years ago.”
He said the city is looking for a replacement storage unit as well as a cooling system in the horse barn, with many previous conversations having taken place about addressing how to keep the livestock cool and the fundraising necessary to support its purchase.
“To invest … in excess of $50,000 or $60,000 in a permanent system to be used seven to 10 days a year might not be wisest use of money if we can see it used in the Exhibit Hall six days a week,” he said.
Jennifer Budge, Parks and Recreation director, also noted after the presentation that RACC has allocated $200,000 toward improvements for Fuji. The commission itself also previously submitted in its own capital improvement request with the Board of Supervisors $100,000 toward the park, totaling $300,000 as a priority for the master plan update, she said. It also has the potential to write grants and leverage this funding, she informed the members.
Annamarie Thompson, describing herself as a “lifelong member of the community” and a 4-H member, called in and asked for the commission to consider adding fans for the horse barn. She also stated 4-H constantly uses Fuji’s existing storage shed, saying the group prefers to continue to use its existing facilities while the city finishes its work on the parking lot.
“We greatly appreciate the opportunity to use Fuji,” she said, adding 4-H is willing to help raise the necessary funds and support the current developments as needed.
The commission approved the master plan vote unanimously. The plan will go to the Board of Supervisors at a future meeting.