Commentary: Carson Nugget redevelopment: What’s the hurry?
After reading Steve Neighbors’ lengthy defense of the $80 million Carson Nugget redevelopment project in last Sunday’s Appeal, I was left with an important question: What’s the hurry?
“Trust us,” Neighbors asks (and I’m paraphrasing here). “We know what we’re doing and you should jump on board before the train leaves the station.” Well, I want to know where that train is going, and how it’s going to get there.
Although we’re supposed to be super-enthusiastic about this ambitious and very expensive project, that’s not what I’m hearing from well-informed friends around town.
I recall other instances where out-of-town developers and promoters had big plans to “save” Carson City, but those plans fizzled. Do you remember famous Hollywood personality, Max Baer Jr., who was going to build a multimillion-dollar hillbilly hotel/casino on the old Walmart site south of town? Whatever happened to him? And then there were the developers who were going to convert Fuji Park and fairgrounds into an “upscale lifestyle center,” whatever that is. The Nugget redevelopers offer us “a holistic business incubator system,” a downtown “gathering space” and a digital media lab.
After reading Neighbors’ column, however, I’m still not clear on where $40 million worth of private investment is coming from, nor how the $40 million public portion (that’s us, folks) will be financed.
“All details will be hashed out and shared with the public,” Neighbors assures us, “(and) all agreements … will be made public.”
So far so good, but Mayor Bob Crowell, the Board of Supervisors and local voters need to closely scrutinize those details and financing arrangements before signing on to this project. I’d also like to know a lot more about C4Cube and its track record.
If this project was a “can’t miss” deal, the Carson Chamber of Commerce would be leading the charge for it, but Chamber President Jim Smolenski urges caution. “The Chamber cannot fully endorse such a massive and expensive project until additional information and transparency is forthcoming,” he wrote.
I agree with Supervisor Pete Livermore and supervisor candidate Sean Lehmann, who think the project should be submitted to a vote of the people. “It’s the taxpayers’ money. Let the taxpayers speak,” Livermore said before asking a key question: “Why is this project being fast-tracked to a Nov. 30 groundbreaking when financial feasibility reports and developer agreements have yet to be completed or even presented to the public?”
Therefore, I urge the Board of Supervisors to put this measure on the November ballot and to exercise caution and prudence in order to avoid encumbering future generations with massive debt.
• Retired diplomat Guy W. Farmer has been a Carson City resident since 1962.