Group sues over fairground future
Carson City officials have 45 days to respond to a lawsuit asking a district judge to force city leaders to put an ordinance protecting Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds on November’s ballot.
The Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds are trying to force Carson City Clerk Alan Glover and the city’s Board of Supervisors to place their question on the ballot. Carson Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg said while he has until mid-May to respond to the complaint, “I imagine the court will ask us to respond sooner.”
“I’ll respond the same way I have all along, by saying it’s not an appropriate issue for an initiative petition,” Forsberg said.
Forsberg contends the petition, which asks that Fuji Park and the fairgrounds “be maintained and improved in not less than its present size as a park in perpetuity,” is an administrative change and is therefore unconstitutional.
Glover may be the only person ever sued to be happy about it.
“From a clerk issue, we would like to settle the issue one way or the other,” he said. “We have no objection to that type of lawsuit. I’m not opposed to it as long as it settles the issue. That’s why we have courts.”
Ballots must be presented to Glover for placement on the ballot by May 20.
Concerned Citizen President Mike Hoffman said considering the deadline, the court will come to a speedy conclusion on the issue.
“We want to get our question on the ballot,” he said. “When you look at the city’s ballot question, it doesn’t mean anything. If their question fails, we have what we have now. If it passes, it says nothing about relocating the fairgrounds. Our question, we feel, is definitive to protect the park and fairgrounds into perpetuity Our group and 4,300 other voters agreed with us. We were a little put off (supervisors) ignored it.
The fairgrounds sits in the middle of the region’s hottest commercial property, and community members were angered last year when the city offered the property to Wal-Mart to keep the retailer from relocating in North Douglas County.
The Concerned Citizens in January presented city supervisors with a 3,400-signature petition asking to protect the park and fairgrounds. Supervisors insist they’re committed to preserving Fuji Park and are pursuing an advisory ballot question of their own.
They made the decision to leave the fate of the fairgrounds to a community vote in light of the Concerned Citizen petition. Concerned Citizen members argue because city leaders opted for an alternate ballot question, they have violated state law.
The city’s question reads, “While retaining and improving the area known as Fuji Park, should Carson City make available for commercial development City property known as the Carson City Fairgrounds?”