Costco is welcome, but whether at Fuji uncertain
Everyone it seems, wants a Costco in Carson City. In fact, they embrace the idea of having the warehouse super store in the area.
But not everyone likes the idea of giving up a park for a Costco, and some residents, including Mayor Ray Masayko, charge the process from park to Costco is going too fast.
“Costco seems to be saying, ‘If you don’t do this now, you’ll lose us to Douglas County,'” resident William Kugler said. “They’re playing hardball. You’re giving up the ability to expand Fuji Park. That has long reaching consequences. We need to step back. We don’t want this to look like an underhanded deal where we lose a park.”
Despite resident concern, Carson’s Redevelopment Authority, whose membership is the same as the board of supervisors, opted Thursday to add land at Fuji Park to the redevelopment district.
“The window of opportunity is really small, but those small windows close fast,” Supervisor Jon Plank said. “It’s not like a barn door that is wide open.”
The move still has two more public forums before it’s official. Adding the park to the district will allow the city to sell 15.3 acres across the street from Fuji Park to Costco without going through a public bid process.
Costco has proposed building a 150,000-square-foot warehouse store on vacant city-owned property at the intersection of highways 395 and 50 in south Carson City. The land is currently earmarked as a parking lot for Fuji Park.
Although the only item for discussion at the moment is the transfer of land from public to redevelopment, supervisors, city commissions and the public are already discussing the inevitable movement of Fuji Park and the fairgrounds.
“We have a limited amount of resources for the future,” resident Vern Horton said. “What we do here is not going to end with Costco. It will continue to favor or haunt us for 20 years.”
As the authority’s only dissenting vote, Masayko acknowledged with the large public support for Costco he was “spitting in the wind.”
He questioned the future of Fuji Park and the effect of sending future property taxes related to the site into redevelopment and not to the coffers of Carson City schools, which get about 48 percent of property taxes.
“I see the desire to move forward to procure the land for (Costco), but it needs to be done in full public view,” Masayko said. “I want Carson City to be successful in locating Costco in Carson City. I don’t think it’s consistent with the spirit of redevelopment law. This is a serious and far reaching precedent.”
The land hasn’t been sold yet or approved for sale, and there is already discussion on how to spend the proceeds from the land and the sales and property taxes a retailer would generate.
Park and Recreation commissioners decided Wednesday to support the transfer, but recommended all the money from the land sale – somewhere between $3 million and $14 million – go to the Parks and Recreation Department.
Masayko took that a step further and said the money should be used to relocate Fuji Park and the fairgrounds.
Residents will have another opportunity Monday to comment on the Fuji Park/Costco deal. The Carson City Regional Planning Commission takes up the issue of how the change would affect the city’s master plan.
Regardless of the future of the fairgrounds, City Manager John Berkich said the South Carson site is the only Carson City site that interests Costco representatives. The site is at the junction of the redesigned southern freeway interchange, which would put Costco in the middle of merging Douglas County, Lake Tahoe and Carson City traffic.
City leaders are worried if they don’t jump at the Costco opportunity, more than $1.5 million dollars in sales tax will find its way to Douglas County.
Masayko urged Costco to make a commitment to Carson City “so there is not a protracted bidding process” and that negotiations take place “in full public view.”
If you go:
What: Carson City Regional Planning Commission meeting
When: Monday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: the Community Center’s Sierra Room 851 E. William St.