Fuji finally falls in supervisors court
On Thursday, Carson City supervisors get their chance to have a say on Fuji Park.
Whether they’ll decide anything or not remains to be seen.
The agenda for Thursday’s meeting calls for city staff “to prepare a resolution for the sale and development of a portion of the Fairground/Fuji Park.”
“It appears the city manager is asking formal permission to do what he’s already been doing, and that is to sell the park and fairgrounds,” said Jon Nowlin, spokesman for the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds.
Sandwiched between commercial development on Old Clear Creek Road, the future of the fairgrounds and park has been in question for more than a year and a half. The city is facing a bleak fiscal future, officials say, and with 43 percent of its budget dependent on sales taxes, city leaders are hungry for opportunities to increase the city’s sales tax base.
At least one supervisor thinks the issue is important enough to be put to a vote.
“My gut, knee-jerk reaction is I want to put it on the ballot,” Supervisor Richard Staub said. “I don’t want 2,000 people speaking for 53,000 people. This is too large of an issue for 50 or 60 people to come and tell me emotionally what they want. It’s too profound of an issue because of the impact — potentially increasing property taxes. Everyone’s property taxes will be impacted.”
Staub said city supervisors are faced with balancing the will of a few hundred — potentially a few thousand — people versus the silent majority that may not care or want to come forward.
Supervisor Pete Livermore said he knew when he was elected he would have to make tough calls. It’s time for supervisors to make the call, he said.
“This is very important to the structure of the community, to the credibility of the local government,” he said. “We do understand. We hear people talking about Fuji Park.
“We’re talking about one park. Carson City has 30 parks in its inventory. I’m concerned for all the parks users for every park and all the residents who paid property taxes.
“I’m elected to look at the total views of the total community. I’m trying to do that on a broad scope of all (park) users. I’m not going to shun the responsibility. I’m just going to do what’s best for Carson City, not just for 100, or 200 or even 1,000. There are 53,000 people in this community. I’m going to make the best decision for all of them.”
Mayor Ray Masayko, supervisors Robin Williamson and Jon Plank and City Manger John Berkich were not available for comment Friday.
— The fairgrounds — not Fuji Park — is prime commercial property which the city has a small window of opportunity to develop.
— The city faces losing $1 million in sales taxes with the loss of Wal-Mart, which is moving into Douglas County. They estimate that to be worth 20 city jobs or a 10 cent increase in property taxes.
— A bigger, better fairgrounds can be built in another, unidentified location and an “upscale regional shopping and dining destination” built at the existing location.
The city’s intent to develop has drawn criticism from many in the community. The Concerned Citizen group has collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition to create a law which would preserve the park.
Group member Mike Hoffman said the group fears if the city decides to sell the property, the fairground users will be displaced while the city decides where to build a new fairgrounds.
Nowlin added he feared a decision to sell the park will set the clock back on the Fuji Park issues, subjecting residents to more meetings and consultant studies on what is best for the fairgrounds.
— Users want to stay at that location.
— The natural setting of Clear Creek and shade trees cannot be replaced at a new location.
— The 1996 voter-approved Quality of Life initiative promised improvements to Fuji Park and the protection of existing city open space.
— Carson City leaders should not be in the land development business.
What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting on Fuji Park
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Community Center’s Bob Boldrick Theatre, 851 E. William St.