Some public concerns over an ambitious plan for improvements at Mills Park didn’t stop the Carson City Board of Supervisors from going after millions in grant funding to implement the plan.
Thursday, supervisors voted unanimously to authorize city staff to submit to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act Round 20 grant program and authorized Parks, Recreation and Open Space Director Jennifer Budge to sign documents related to the grant submission. With past success with SNPLMA grants, the city is seeking roughly $14.9 million to fund improvements like a new connector road between both sides of the park, a new playground, dog park, splash park and more parking — all elements in the Mills Park Master Plan approved in March.
The final application for the grant program is due Nov. 5. Budge said it could take a year before the city finds out if money is being awarded.
“I do think we have a really good shot,” she said.
Implementation of the Mills Park Master Plan fits into SNPLMA’s parks, trails and natural areas category for the grant program, Budge said.
“If they do come back and say we need to phase it, we can work on that,” she said. “We have identified some possible phases. We don’t want to throw that out there immediately. You know, it’s like a negotiation. You got to go for it all, and we’re going to try to get everything we can.”
The Mills Park Master Plan went through public workshops and appeared before the Parks and Recreation Commission in February. At that time, there were concerns about the connector road, Foley’s Forest Lane, between Oxoby Loop and Seely Loop.
“The deal for me is I don’t want more asphalt, plain and simple,” resident Deni French said Thursday during public comment.
Resident Bepsy Strasburg had another concern.
“My main concern is it’s a very ambitious plan — that’s great — but what about the maintenance?” she said.
Strasburg stressed future maintenance should be addressed in the planning phase versus later.
“Are we going to rely on this SNPLMA fund three, five years down the road to maintain this built-up park?” she asked.
Before public comment and the final vote, Supervisor Stacey Giomi emphasized the park’s master plan allowed the city to go after grants in the first place.
“What staff and this board have done by developing this plan put us in position to go after these grants when other communities are being left behind because they don’t have the forethought to master plan out,” he said.
He added, “Even if we get half of this, it will be amazing.”
In other action:
• As part of the consent agenda, supervisors unanimously approved two proposed settlements related to opioids.
The state of Nevada negotiated the settlements and Carson City will receive payments as a political subdivision of the state: an estimated $2.18 million from Walgreens and an estimated $1.45 million from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries LTD and its affiliates.
The payments will come in installments over the next two decades, according to a staff report.
• Pulling the item off the consent agenda, supervisors discussed and reappointed two members to Carson City’s Historic Resources Commission.
Resident Jed Block was reappointed to a term that expires in January 2027 for the position of historic district resident or property owner.
Resident Donald Smit was reappointed to a term that expires in January 2025 for the position of construction professional.
The votes for reappointment were unanimous with Supervisor Lisa Schuette abstaining from the vote on Block due to a professional relationship in another organization.
• Pulling the item from the consent agenda after concerns from the public, supervisors unanimously approved accepting a Group Living Project grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for $57,397.
The grant will provide rental assistance to homeless individuals from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2024. The local match for the grant will be 25 percent.
“In Carson City, the wait for a studio apartment or a one-bedroom apartment is often longer than for a two-bedroom apartment,” reads a staff report from Carson City Health and Human Services. “This funding will allow CCHHS to house two or more qualifying homeless individuals in a transitional setting while pending approvals for a permanent housing unit.”
According to the report, Carson City applied for and received $35,232 in grant funding last year to implement the Group Living Project.
“Supportive services that CCHHS provides include teaching the individuals how to be good neighbors, communicate with property managers, stabilize income and meet medical needs,” reads the report.
Thursday, Mary Jane Ostrander of CCHHS said the program helped house 12 homeless individuals last year. The match requirements were met by other grants, not general fund spending.
“We’re taking the people that are reaching out and ready to change,” she said.
Ostrander said out of the 12, five have moved into permanent housing. She said per funding requirements, the city has a coordinated entry process for homeless individuals.
“In January what we needed, what Carson City needed, were 47 one-bedroom apartments or studios, and out of those 47 people that were in Carson City’s queue, seven of them were veterans and 13 of them were seniors,” she said.
Now, 30 people are in the queue for the program, Ostrander said, with zero veterans and five seniors.
“Some of that is because of this,” she said of the decrease, “because we are able to get them off the street faster.”
Members of the public had concerns about the program and wanted more information.
“All the statistics Mary Jane Ostrander presented would have been really useful if they were in the supporting documentation,” Strasburg said of the agenda item.
Supervisor Maurice White commented on his work with the city’s behavioral health taskforce dealing with people trying to get off the streets.
“I can tell you, these folks that are in this program are working their tails off to make a change in their lives,” he said.