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Tribe unhappy with fairgrounds at Stewart

Amanda Hammon

Despite complaints from the Washoe Tribe and other Native American groups, the state’s Stewart complex remained the top potential relocation site for the Carson City fairgrounds.

The Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday opted to leave Stewart at the top of a list of six potential fairground sites despite reports state officials are not interested in having a fairgrounds at the old Indian school.

Rocky Boice, of the American Indian Movement, said his group would consider legal action if the state considered giving the property to the city.

“It’s sacred ground whether we own it or not,” Boice said.

Commissioners Ken Elverum and Stacie Wilkie questioned why the commission was considering land that was likely not available.

“It seems ridiculous for us to be ranking state property as if the city owned it,” Elverum said. “Why consider putting it at the head of the list? As nice as it would be, it’s not ours.”

Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said he knew dealing on any of the six sites, all owned by the state or the Bureau of Land Management, wasn’t “a done deal” but the commissioners were just asked to rank the site, giving no head to relocation costs or suitability.

“I don’t think any of this is feasible, as usual,” Wilkie said.

Carson City residents continued to plea for the fairgrounds to remain in its current Old Clear Creek Road location, and they complained the option to stay at the site was not considered.

Commissioner Larry Osborne, who has pushed the sale of the fairgrounds for commercial development as the executive vice president of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce, argued he was sure city supervisors are aware fairground and Fuji Park users want to stay put.

“Whether or not those sites are available, the users sat down and prioritized these sites,” Osborne said.

The sites, two of which are readily accessible from the Bureau of Land Management, were prioritized by members of the Fuji Parks Users Coalition. Susan Hoffman, a member of the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds, noted the users “weren’t allowed to say one wasn’t acceptable, we don’t want it on the list.”

“Theoretically, we can end up with the last choice as the one going forward,” she said.

The sites most readily available, one near the city landfill on Flint Drive and the other at Edmonds Park, are the third and fourth choices respectively. The second choice site is near the Lyon County line. The fifth ranked site is the Nevada State Prison alfalfa field off Bigelow drive, and the fourth is a site adjacent to Eagle Valley Golf Course. Prices to improve the sites run up to $7 million.

Carson City resident Charles Kuhn pointed out multiple problems with each site from resident opposition at Edmonds, state opposition at Stewart to an earthquake fault under the county line site.

“This has been a very difficult road to go down for the entire city,” Kuhn said. “Considering what happened last week in this country, it seems trivial to be here tonight. But this is a very important issue to this community. Quite frankly the dollars don’t add up. One of those sites is going to end up as the new fairgrounds; that is the way this whole game has been going. The site studies are simply not adequate to replace the existing fairgrounds.”

Commissioners asked city staff to begin trying to secure the sites from the top choice down, but asked that if the sites were unavailable in a reasonable period of time, supervisors consider leaving the fairgrounds at its current site.

Commissioners also approved nearly $2 million in improvements to Fuji Park. The park will be improved regardless of the future of the fairgrounds. Kastens said if the fairgrounds are not sold for commercial development, the city will pursue previous improvement plans for the entire facility.