Lyon County reconsiders ARPA allocations, continues discussion to May 23

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Plans to proceed with a community center, long hoped for by Mound House citizens including Melinda Cash, finally seemed possible last month when the Lyon County Commission granted $1 million of its American Rescue Plan Act funds to build its own facility.
Cash was delighted on April 14 to hear her community’s vision could begin moving forward. But on April 15, she shared with her Mound House Community Advisory Board members and local residents, she received a phone call from county comptroller Josh Foli who said her funds would need to be rescinded. The allocation would have to be redirected after further board discussion to build a justice complex in Dayton for which the county is federally mandated to provide to conduct jury trials and state government business.
To receive the news the day after getting the commission’s blessing was difficult, Cash told the CAB and community members in attendance Tuesday in the small kitchen of the Mound House Fire Station, the CAB’s regular meeting place.
“We have people who have worked for this, people who have volunteered for the fire district, these past 30 to 40 years and trying to carry this forward before us,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean this battle has died.”
The battle continued Thursday during the commission meeting with a re-examination of
the board’s April 14 workshop when it set priorities for its $6.1 million in federal funding for public service, parks and capital project needs.
Introducing the item Thursday, Foli expressed his challenge keeping “every penny” for the Fernley and Dayton justice courts, both of which are expected to be completed within the next three years, while providing the new ARPA allocations the board designated to new projects on April 14.
“For the first time in my 18 years, I can’t move forward,” he told the board. “What do I do? … We have a $10 million project, a little over $5 million in funding, and we’re hoping the economy stays good longer to generate sales tax to pay for a government complex. The other issue is the Dayton government complex which would take care of severe issues in Dayton.”
Foli said he would need to readjust the original allocations last month to $400,000 for the Fernley Justice Court, $30,000 for the Dressler Park tennis court replacement, $500,000 for the Mound House community center, $30,000 for the Lyon County Fair and Rodeo Board asphalt replacement and $30,000 for the Fair and Rodeo Board’s bucking chutes and back pens purchase for a total of about $990,000 to address an approximate $1 million hole for these mandated court projects.
Part of the struggle is the project’s own reemergence on the county’s list of capital needs, and it has had a difficult history in coming to fruition.
A citizens group, formed in 1988, originally set out to collect information about establishing a community center. An application for a 10-acre parcel on Linehan Road past the railroad in Mound House was submitted to the Bureau of Land Management, which required six months for approval, and the county budgeted the amount, Cash told the Appeal.
According to a news article published by the Mason Valley News in July 1990, the project was to be considered the county’s top project for 1991 at an estimate of $150,000 with an additional $50,000 for site development. Board members considered conceptual designs, including structural and floor plans, for a potential building in the meantime. The process ultimately stalled as Lyon County experienced financial hardships.
But plans also had been submitted and approved to develop a 2-acre parcel adjacent to the Mound House Fire Station on Hematite and Red Rock roads. The property was deeded by Julius Bunkowski, a land developer in the county and grandfather to Phil Cowee, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.
The parcel, though, is need of a zoning change now due to concerns about the documents called covenant conditions and restrictions, commonly known as CCRs, or the legal rules and property limitations regulating the use of real estate or developments associated with it. Cash said during Tuesday’s CAB meeting the parcel currently is zoned for single-family residential use, and the CCRs for the 2-acre parcel weren’t filed until 1993. The CCR documents changed hands multiple times at the time.
“I’m at the mercy of the planning department to file to change the zoning,” she told residents on Tuesday. “I don’t know where it stands. What I do know is it doesn’t make sense to strip us of money we were awarded.”
Commissioner Dave Hockaday, representing District 5, told the Mound House residents he felt it was important to help keep a promise made in 1991.
“Our hearts are in the right place, and we’re going to do whatever we can for you, but we are looking at legal parameters, and that’s what Josh (Foli) is doing for you, too,” Hockaday said Tuesday.
Commissioner Wes Henderson, representing District 1, also attending Tuesday’s meeting, said he would provide direction to staff to begin the paperwork on the rezoning of the 2-acre property.
Community Development Director Andrew Haskin and Page on Thursday confirmed staff members and planning commission members have begun processing the paperwork to begin the rezoning and making sure it’s in compliance with federal and state requirements, Page told the Appeal.
Meanwhile, the commission’s debate about funding priorities varied on providing equitable support between Lyon’s communities geographically and following the ARPA funding requirements and deadlines.
The commissioners also asked if a scaled-down version of the Mound House project could be achieved, closer to 1,200 square feet instead. Cash said she has been promoting 1,500 square feet as the preferential size to help Foli and staff with recommendations
Cash on Tuesday said a 1,500-square-feet facility would be adequate space, large enough for two restrooms, a janitorial closet and small kitchen that can be rented out to local groups for community events.
“I didn’t see where we could afford anything other than a metal building, which would be in that price range, and they will sheetrock it and it’s fire retardant,” she said. “We can see 4H, summer programs. Kids need something. We really feel if we have the building, we can start to offer services to our citizens.”
County manager Jeff Page on Thursday acknowledged the board’s difficult decision at hand, but said he didn’t believe the county should supplant any district with special funding.
“From an operations perspective, I’ve got to do something in Dayton and in Fernley pronto before we get into litigation, and I’d rather do it on our timetable,” he said. “It’s a tough decision. There’s no easy way of doing this.”
The board has scheduled another workshop to continue the discussion on its ARPA allocation for May 23.


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