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Fairgrounds may move to Stewart Complex

by Teri Vance and Amanda Hammon

The Carson City Fairgrounds may make its new home on the other side of the street.

Members of the Fuji Park Users Association chose a site within the Stewart Complex from six others as their preferred relocation site in the event city supervisors decide to move the fairgrounds.

The location was proposed about a year ago, however, state officials refused to consider the idea.

But City Manager John Berkich insisted it be included among possible sites to be ranked at the meeting. The Board of Supervisors will consider the possible sites in the order they were ranked.

Steve Kastens, director of the parks and recreation department, said the site, which already has horse barns and a gymnasium that could be converted into an events center, would be a good fit.

“If we were able to get it, I’m sure it would work out well,” he said.

However, some members had reservations about recommending the site to the Board of Supervisors.

Jean Opperman, a 4-H leader, worried that the cost of renovating the old buildings might outweigh the benefits.

“Aesthetically, I think Stewart would be really nice,” she said. “My concern is that the cost of doing anything in there would be so much.”

The group’s second choice fell to a site on the north side of Highway 50 near the Lyon County line.

James Parker, who has lived across the street from the proposed site for 30 years, lobbied for the location dubbed the “Eastern Portal” to protect it from commercial development.

“I’ve been steward of this parcel for 30 years,” he said. “I’d like another 25.”

The site was the preferred of three sites in East Carson City, all of which were eliminated as relocation options by the Parks and Recreation Commission in March.

The three sites are being reconsidered because the turf area for the proposed fairgrounds has been scaled back from around 10 acres to under three. The loss of turf is a sore spot for those asking for the park and fairgrounds to stay together. Groups such as 4-H argue they use both the fairgrounds and large turf area at Fuji Park in their events.

Park staff plans on taking the fairground site selection and park changes to the Parks and Recreation Commission for approval Sept. 18.

The work comes over one month after city supervisors opted to explore commercial development of the fairgrounds. Mayor Ray Masayko gave a 90-day deadline to work out options for the fairgrounds, including a suitable relocation site and a definition of potential development at the current site. The city hired a contractor to look at development of the fairgrounds.

The future of the park and fairgrounds have been in limbo since the city decided to sell 18 acres of unused Fuji Park property to Costco in Dec. 1999. Since then, the city’s plans for further development in the area has drawn criticism from various community groups.