City considers ballot questions
Carson City supervisors will have to choose Tuesday between dueling ballot questions regarding the future of Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds or a continued court battle.
The question worries some city supervisors, and has forced Clerk Alan Glover to postpone convening committees drafted to write language for the city’s proposed ballot question.
District Judge Michael Griffin on Monday ordered city officials to place on the ballot a request for an ordinance sought by the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds.
City supervisors had rejected in January a 3,400-signature petition supporting the Concerned Citizens’ ordinance, which asks that the park and fairgrounds “be maintained and improved in not less than its present size as a park in perpetuity.”
Influenced by the number of voters supporting the proposal, supervisors approved an alternate, advisory question to query capital voters on their feelings of commercial development at the fairgrounds.
Carson Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg has argued the initiative petition process is not an appropriate way to deal with opposition to the sale of property, which he contends is an administrative right of the city.
While Griffin agreed the city may have a good argument, the judge said voters should have a chance to weigh in on the issues before city leaders challenge its legality.
“If 3,400 people told me they want to vote on it, I have no problem with it,” Supervisor Pete Livermore said. “Let’s put that on the ballot and nix the one the board adopted.”
Supervisor Jon Plank said he is curious to hear debate Tuesday, but he is already worrying over the effects of a vote on the Concerned Citizen’s ordinance.
“If the petition stays on the ballot and it loses, I’m not too sure those people who promoted it understand the situation they’ve gotten themselves into. That opens the potential for some board, not this one, to sell off everything,” Plank said, emphasizing supervisors’ decision to preserve and improve Fuji Park.
In light of Griffin’s decision, Mayor Ray Masayko said Monday it “doesn’t sound logical” to have two questions regarding the same subject on the November ballot.
City supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to pull their question, which reads “While retaining and improving the area known as Fuji Park, should Carson City make available for commercial development City property known as the Carson City Fairgrounds?” or whether to appeal Griffin’s decision to the state Supreme Court.
“I’m hoping they just vote for one question, and it’s ours,” said Mike Hoffman, Concerned Citizen president.
Hoffman and other group members have argued their ballot question, if it passes, assures protection of the park and fairgrounds from development.
“If their question passes, you basically have the same thing you have now, no guarantee as to what will happen,” Hoffman said. “Their’s leaves it open; ours is a definitive question.”
Hoffman was selected for the committee to draft ballot language for the city’s question, but the first meeting of the three-member groups, to be held Monday, was canceled pending the outcome of the city’s decision.
Glover said rather than recruiting new ballot drafters, the current committee may be reassigned to draft language for the ordinance ballot question. If the city appeals Griffin’s decision, Glover will prepare for both ballot questions until ordered by a court otherwise. Language for the November ballot must be completed by July 15.
The future of the fairgrounds, which sits in the middle of the region’s hottest commercial property, has been enveloped in controversy since the city decided to sell vacant Fuji Park land to Costco in 1999.
Community members were angered last year when the city offered the fairgrounds to Wal-Mart to keep the retailer from relocating in North Douglas County. The Concerned Citizens responded with the initiative petition, and city officials responded with the alternate ballot question, promising to abide by its outcome.
If you go:
What: Carson City Board of Supervisors special meeting
When: noon Tuesday
Where: Community Center Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.