Improvements to Fuji start in Oct. |

Improvements to Fuji start in Oct.

Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer

Improvements to Fuji Park will begin Oct. 2, one month before a vote on the future of neighboring fairgrounds.

Carson City supervisors approved a $772,521 contract Thursday with Interstate Utility Constructors of Carson City.

“I want to invite the watching public to see the improvements happening so they can (decide) for themselves what this board has done for Fuji Park when they go to the ballot box in November,” Supervisor Richard Staub said.

Supervisors were quick to point out the improvements were a fulfillment of a promise they made just over a year ago. That promise: We’ll fix Fuji Park, everything west of the park’s exhibit hall. At the same time, they decided to market the fairgrounds for commercial development.

The Fuji improvement project, which should be completed by the end of the year, includes pavement of a parking lot around the exhibit hall, a playground, the addition of electrical outlets in the ground, renovation of the picnic shelter and some grading work to prepare for future turf and parking.

The total project cost is just over $1 million, a figure which includes around $209,000 for the construction of new restrooms.

A second phase of improvements are planned, including a new picnic shelter, irrigation system, turf and a paved parking lot on the park’s west side, are on hold.

The improvements are paid for by money from the sale of land adjacent to Fuji Park to Costco and Question 18 funds.

The city received about $3.7 million for the 18 acres sold to Costco in 2000, and has around $1.7 million left, which has been promised for park and fairgrounds improvements.

“We said we’d save the money. We saved the money, and now we’re putting it to use,” Supervisor Robin Williamson said.

Construction on the improvements will begin in the shadow of a public vote Nov. 5 that will ask Carson City residents, “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?”

“Regardless of the vote, these improvements are important,” Mayor Ray Masayko said.

City supervisors are proposing the sale of the city’s fairgrounds in light of development pressures in neighboring Northern Douglas County. City development efforts led to a grassroots movement to preserve the park and fairgrounds from development.

Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds gathered enough signatures to place a measure on the ballot that would have protected the park and fairgrounds into perpetuity.

Influenced by the petitions, supervisors put their development plans on hold in January and agreed to an advisory question on commercial development fairgrounds future.

The citizens group sued to get their initiative on the ballot. While a district court judge ordered the city to place the ordinance on the ballot, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the group’s petition illegal.

While city’s question is not binding, supervisors have said they will abide by its outcome.