Fairgrounds backers may resort to recall

Carson City supervisors could face recall petitions if they decide to develop the Carson City Fairgrounds, some opponents said Wednesday.

While Carson City officials said Wednesday they have heard mixed opinions from residents during three open houses on the issues, members of the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds said most of the roughly 225 who attended the open houses are adamant about the area's preservation.

"We've heard several people say if supervisors vote to sell any part of the park or fairgrounds, the next step is a recall petition," said Jon Nowlin, a Concerned Citizen spokesman.

The group is circulating petitions asking for a law to protect the area from development. They've collected at least 2,000 signatures with more coming in, said Susan Hoffman. They need just under 3,000 signatures for the petition to be certified, although the city's attorney says the petition is not legal and city officials do not need to recognize it.

"About 80 percent of those that have attended already signed or signed the petition here," Nowlin said. "I think that says people heard the city's presentation and want to see Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds stay as it is today."

Nowlin and Susan Hoffman said several residents have said they would prefer to see their property taxes raised to fix city budget problems than see the sale of the fairgrounds.

"This will increase the heat on supervisors," Nowlin said. "Anything other than a decision not to develop will just increase the heat."

City Manager John Berkich said he will recommend to city supervisors next week that the Carson City fairgrounds be commercially developed.

"We still believe this will benefit the whole community," he said. "What we're proposing can be a win for both the community and the fairground and park users."

Carson officials hosted a three-day workshop Monday through Wednesday to gather opinion from Carson residents on the potential development of the fairgrounds.

"Opinions are really mixed. Some are adamantly opposed, some are saying 'What's the big deal?' Others come in having a lot of questions," Berkich said.

While residents were encouraged to give their opinion in writing, Berkich said the open house was more for residents to get "all the information" than to gauge their opinion on the subject.

"We're just trying to get all this to the board," he said. "I think all the input has shaped our recommendation."

The Board of Supervisors will decide on the future of the fairgrounds and park Aug. 2.

Commercial development pressures have prompted city officials to consider relocating the park and fairgrounds, prompting protests from throughout the community.

Parks commissioners in May rejected proposals to move the park and fairgrounds to one of three sites in east Carson City. Since then city officials have taken no action on the issue despite pressure from local groups.


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