Carson City school board delays action on Snyder property negotiation
The Carson City School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday tabled action on authorizing Superintendent Richard Stokes to negotiate the purchase of the 1600 Snyder Ave. property and delayed the item until further budget discussions have been completed.
The board has been considering the former Capital Christian property since last June, and the process has seen the formation of a citizens committee, tours of the property and feasibility studies to ensure its safety.
“This project has taken a backseat as we have changed some of our school options and opportunities in the last two months,” Stokes told the board Tuesday night.
The sellers originally proposed an asking price of $5.67 million for the five-building site on the 10.2-acre land. The property first was owned by the Bureau of Land Management through a land patent and has been designated for use as a church or school.
The district most recently completed an appraisal and a 90-day feasibility study and received test results from an environmental study on the site, and it was found to be in good to excellent condition.
The phase one and phase two environmental studies conducted on the property, which once served as an unauthorized dump in the 1940s, showed minor concentrations of lead at 420 mg/kg, which is 20 mg/kg above the Environmental Protection Agency’s preliminary remediation goal.
Staff reports state exposure to dust was most likely to happen through breathing or ingesting near the landfill on the property. The phase one study called for a phase two study to identify any soil and groundwater contaminants that could cause harm to inhabitants on the site in the event of redevelopment.
“A remediation condition for that would be to put a cap of asphalt as part of that, and that has been done and exists today,” Stokes reported.
The study was conducted by Converse Consultants of Reno, which did not see a need for further subsurface testing, according to staff reports.
A committee in September that examined the site with Stokes and board members provided input about potential uses and the type of facility for which the Carson City School District might use it, and it was ultimately proposed favorably as a potential elementary school. The tour group examined its geographic location in Carson City, potential physical needs with furniture, parking, technological infrastructure and programming. Local engineers and architects have inspected the property to assess its structural integrity, feasibility and challenges in completing the project.
In recent months, administrators emphasized there will be anticipated growth in Carson City in the next five to 10 years. They have suggested the property would best serve as an elementary or middle school to address overcrowding, and the trustees had expressed interest in potentially the property before the coronavirus presented in March.
The board also was presented with possibilities of opening the campus’ former worship facility as a performing arts center to the public as a revenue source with its available seating, staging and audiovisual capabilities. In general, the campus itself requires little upkeep and minor modifications to become a viable school complex.
But at Tuesday’s meeting, while some expressed they understood the practical need for it in the long run, they worried about public perceptions by making a large capital improvement investment after Gov. Steve Sisolak declared a state of fiscal emergency Monday.
“I feel like we’re going to have to do a lot of explanation to individuals,” Trustee Lupe Ramirez said. “Maybe we need clear guidance or suggestions.”
Trustee Don Carine said he felt Carson City might have a need for a facility of its size in the future.
A.J. Feuling, chief financial officer, clarified for the board that it has the authority and ability to make such purchases from designated sources.
“We have very specific funds, about 20 different funds, and each fund has a very specific purpose, to make this kind of (capital) purchase and do some improvements,” he said. “Those funds are clearly deposited into these funds. … We can’t fund regular school district operations from those funds.”
Trustee Laurel Crossman remained optimistic that Snyder was still worth considering.
“I think it’s still a good purchase,” she said. “The appraisal price came in lower than what we planned, and we planned for this. I think the most difficult thing we’ll face is just helping the public to understand that money can only be used for capital projects.”
Stokes also disclosed at the meeting that he had been contacted by a citizen who likewise has interest in purchasing the property.
“I didn’t want us to lose out to someone who may be a competing interest,” Stokes said. “And if you think just before times got bad, we were wondering if we might have enough space, and we were wringing our hands, having this as an asset was something we were interested in, our operational budget and capital projects budget, this is something we were at least needing to review prior to losing to another competing interest.”
Funding for the purchase would be made available through the 2010 Rollover School Bond, which was renewed and the funds from which the district can continue to access through 2030, Stokes said.
In other discussion or action items from Tuesday’s board meeting:
The school board was introduced to the construction manager at risk, CORE Construction, selected by Eagle Valley Middle School’s evaluation committee for the site’s expansion and remodel project. CORE Construction will assist with concepts to add classroom and office space, a STEM lab and room for storage at what is expected to cost about $8.2 million as budgeted in the capital improvement plan. The project will help ease capacity issues at Carson Middle School in the next few years.
The board approved the renewal of the ground lease renewal for the Greenhouse Project on the Carson High School campus for a term of five years through June 30, 2025. The lease, originally set for three years, was amended and extended and renewed again in 2016. The Greenhouse Project provides a horticulture lab at CHS and supports the school’s Future Farmers of America program and supplies materials and offsets students’ state and national competition costs.