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Fuji activists oppose potential park-fairgrounds split

Jim Scripps

An exhibit hall at Fuji Park may be the next battleground between park preservationists and city officials.

In a 4-1 vote last week, Carson City supervisors ordered staff to develop a plan for separating Fuji Park from the fairgrounds, and search for an alternative site so the fairgrounds may be sold.

Now there is concern by Fuji users the exhibit hall at the east end of the park – and surrounding land – might be cut into the space being considered for development.

“That’s the kind of decision that those folks (city staff) will have to make,” Mayor Ray Masayko said Tuesday. “If they want to pick up the building because that small piece of mostly parking lot is more commercially valuable,” another location for the building might be more suitable.

“Otherwise, they should draw the line on the east side of the exhibit hall.”

Fuji Park activist Susan Hoffman said the group is steadfastly opposed to including the land surrounding the exhibit hall in the divided parcel.

“Our stand is absolute,” said Hoffman. “People say that word ‘compromise,’ but that’s not our issue.

“We feel like you don’t sell public land to commercial development.”

At last week’s meeting, Masayko indicated it was the city’s intention to retain the exhibit hall.

“We’re talking about an arena. We’re talking about stalls. We’re talking about an abandoned – hopefully for the long term – go-cart track,” he said at the meeting. “I am not going beyond the eastern side of that exhibit hall as far as any decision tonight.”

But the motion approved Thursday night had been prepared by city staff in advance of the meeting, and it wasn’t clear how it affects the exhibit hall.

The motion calls for the supervisors to address the issue again within 90 days. In the meantime, improvements to Fuji Park, which supervisors promise will be retained even in the event that the fairgrounds is sold, will be implemented. There is nothing binding the supervisors to the 90-day time limit.

In a statement Tuesday saying it would continue to gather signatures to stop development, the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and Fairgrounds outlined points for its “watchdog” effort.

“The supervisors have taken the first step in the right direction by directing city staff to protect Fuji Park and the Clear Creek riparian areas in perpetuity,” the statement says. “We have concerns about the effect of commercial development on the creek and riparian areas.

“As part of the precise lines drawn on the property, we believe it is essential to include an easement on the riparian zone.”

Sale of the fairgrounds is being considered to offset expected sales tax revenue shortfalls exacerbated by the loss of Wal-Mart. The store is moving from its South Carson Street location to Douglas County.

On Monday, Parks Director Steve Kastens said the city’s parks department will work with users groups on the improvements to those areas west of the exhibit hall.

Monday night also saw 30 people attend a strategy session for the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and Fairgrounds.

Thursday’s supervisors meeting will replay tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Carson Access Television on Channel 26.

A petition drive by the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and Fairgrounds continues on Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of city hall, and Wednesdays at the Farmer’s Market. For more information call 885-9997.