Panel examines parking plight at Mills Park

A team of engineers sketched out what it would look like to put a 50,000-square-foot recreational center at Mills Park, along with the crucial parking element, but the plan evoked more caution than confidence from the Carson City Parks and Recreation Commission.

Commission Chairman Tom Keeton likened the plans, drawn by Carson City engineering firm Lumos and Associates, to a sketch drawn on a napkin.

"As far as the parking, I'm concerned," Keeton said to a sparse audience of six gathered for the Tuesday evening meeting. "No decision has been made on where to go (with this), nothing is set in concrete. But we have to start somewhere, and we're trying to see what fits and what doesn't fit. We had to draw the airplane on the napkin."

The commission is trying to fit a multimillion-dollar recreation center in Mills Park, at the corner of Roop and William streets. Commissioners aren't even sure how much they have to spend, but $7.1 million was talked about at the June meeting.

"Until we know what it is we're going to spend, and if it's going to be in one or more phases, we don't know if this is what we're really going to do," said Commissioner Tom Patton.

Mills Park, next to the city's aquatic center, is the leading candidate for the location. Parks officials are anxious to start building the center because it will include a new gym that residents requested in a 1996 ballot measure. The ballot question allowed a quarter of a percent sales tax for specific recreation projects.

According to the preliminary parking study, 630 parking spots are needed for the proposed center. The Mills Park area has 460 spaces on Carson City land and at the North Roop Street professional building. City staff have said that parking at Mills Park is inadequate for peak-usage times.

The proposed improvements would add 89 parking spaces, which brings the total to 549. But that still leaves them 81 short. Engineers propose making agreements with public and private properties near Mills Park, including Bank of America, the library and the Carson Plaza.

Officials have liked the idea of having a new rec center in the city core, grouping it with other recreational spots at Mills Park. But they've balked at the possibility of having to pave over sections of the park to make room for parking. Some commissioners said they didn't favor paying private property owners to use their parking lots.

Commissioner Donna DePauw said she learned at June's Carson City Rendezvous, that parking at Mills Park is especially inadequate for the disabled. The standard for a project such as Mills Park would be one disabled parking space to every 50 regular parking spaces, which she said isn't enough.

Constructing the rec center in another, separate location would require about 200 parking spaces, Lumos engineer Steve Peck said in response to a query from the chairman.

"The parking - it'll break it, rather than make it," Keeton said about marking Mills Park as the location of the rec center.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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