City moves to sell fairgrounds | NevadaAppeal.com
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City moves to sell fairgrounds

Amanda Hammon
photo by Brian CorleyDeni French sits through last night's meeting of the Board of Supervisors which met to determine the future of Fuji Park and the Carson City Fairgrounds. French spoke in favor of protecting the park and fairgrounds and keeping them together at their current site.
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Fuji Park is not for sale.

The Carson City Fairgrounds, on the other hand, are still on the market.

In a decision which sent many of a crowd over 100 from the room, Carson City supervisors separated the two properties into maybe-for-sale and not-for-sale parcels. They decreed Thursday improvements delayed to the green area known as Fuji Park — including an irrigation system and picnic pavilion –should be made immediately to show the city’s commitment to preserving the area into perpetuity

However, after four hours of testimony, supervisors voted 4-to-1 to allow the fairgrounds to be commercially developed contingent on finding a suitable relocation site.

Development has threatened the area since the city sold about 16 acres of land across Old Clear Creek Road to Costco last year. Wal-Mart’s move to the southern end has turned the old park and fairgrounds into a prime commercial location.

Mayor Ray Masayko gave city staff 90 days — maybe more — to gather proposals from potential fairground developers on what they’d like to build at the fairgrounds, and how that development will benefit the community.

The city’s parks and recreation commission, who has already turned down three proposed relocation sites, will be charged with hunting up a suitable fairground relocation site within the capital. If no site can be found, “we should leave it where it’s at,” Supervisor Pete Livermore said.

“This process is not going to go on indefinitely,” Masayko said. “You get 90 days to see if there is another site, because if there isn’t, it can stay where it is. I want to be here right after Nevada Day seeing if we have a site. I don’t want to be here next Easter.”

Only Supervisor Richard Staub voted against the move to allow the fairgrounds potentially to become an upscale, regional dining and shopping destination, as City Manager John Berkich has dubbed the area.

Staub noted while he personally wouldn’t mind seeing the fairgrounds relocated, he couldn’t ignore the efforts of those fighting to preserve the park. He can’t ignore the unheard voice of the “silent majority” either, he said.

“The gravity of this issue has led me to one conclusion: let the people vote,” he said. “We should all have an opportunity to say on the issue. Not you. Not me. Not 2,100 people on a petition. Everyone.”

Supervisor Robin Williamson said if she hadn’t been sitting as an elected official, “I’d be sitting out there saying parks and quality of life, and selling parks Ñ ‘You’re crazy.'” However, she has to balance the city’s financial needs and development pressures against public will.

“I go out to Fuji Park, a lot now to see who’s there,” she said. “I never see anybody there except when there are events. I support, very difficultly, looking for an alternative site.”

Mike Hoffman, vice-president of the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds, said the group was disappointed as group members had always envisioned the park and fairgrounds as one entity.

They plan to continue with their initiative petition to preserve the park in its current location, he said. They’ve gathered around 2,200 signatures of the 3,000 needed to certify the petitions.

About 20 people spoke at the meeting, and all but two, both members of the development/building community, spoke in favor of keeping the park and fairgrounds from development. Many argued by offering the fairgrounds for sale, the supervisors were worsening their credibility and breaking public trust.