City eyes Carson River property |

City eyes Carson River property

Cory McConnell
Appeal Staff Writer
Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal The Carson River near Deer Run Bridge looking west toward the Carson Range. Carson City wants to purchase 373 acres along the river from businessman John Serpa to use for open space.

Open space officials have their eyes on nearly 373 riverside acres in east Carson City, saying the scenic land along the Carson River exceeds every criteria the city has for buying land for recreation.

“It contains all the elements necessary to make excellent open space,” said Carson City Open Space Manager Juan Guzman.

The land east of the Deer Run Road Bridge, along both sides of the river, isn’t just pretty, Guzman said, it’s important, too.

Aside from being a riparian area, which state environmental officials have put an emphasis on protecting from development, it contains a flood plain the city wants to preserve, as well as land needed for right of way for construction on the historic Virginia & Truckee rail line.

The land is also an ideal spot for a pedestrian crossing of the Carson River, toward public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, that transportation officials have suggested.

Property owner John Serpa had himself tagged the property for potential sale to a public agency. He brought a proposal to BLM as far back as 15 years ago, he said.

There has been no recent appraisal of the land and Guzman declined to venture a guess at how much the land may cost.

While property values have skyrocketed in Carson City in recent years, the property does come with some issues that could hold its price down.

Aside from part of it being in a flood plain, the property also bears the dubious designation of being a Superfund site, as does most property along the Carson River.

A remnant of the Comstock Lode, when miners let hazardous materials flow down the river, much of the land along its banks is contaminated with mercury, which could have scared away the BLM.

The mercury doesn’t prevent the public from enjoying the land, Guzman said, but if a developer tried to build there, the federal government would likely mandate a massive cleanup operation first.

The Carson City Open Space Advisory Committee is scheduled to vote Monday whether to nominate the Serpa land as a priority for the next round of Question 1 money, a grant fund established by Nevada voters in 2002 to help preserve open space – particularly along rivers.

If the city did receive a Question 1 grant for the Serpa land, it would have to come up with half the purchase price.

– Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.

Land deal

Carson City is considering purchase of 373 acres in the Carson River Canyon from businessman John Serpa to use as open space.

If you go

What: Carson City Open Space Advisory Committee meeting

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Where: Sierra Room of the Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.