Town explores nature of newest park

Geese come in for a landing on Mountain View Park Pond on Thursday morning.

Geese come in for a landing on Mountain View Park Pond on Thursday morning.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

A discussion on the future use of Gardnerville’s 60-acre Mountain View Nature Park returns to the Gardnerville Town Board which is scheduled to discuss the park and the possibility of creating a citizens group to vet improvements.

Gardnerville has a parks and open space master plan that was adopted by the Town Board in January 2021. The plan focused on encouraging passive recreation at the request of neighbors.

Town Board member Bill Chernock said in June that the master plan doesn’t appear to address the open space.

“This is just the first speed bump down the road,” he said. “I’d like to see us come up with a plan that actually acknowledges the open space and sets out a course, so we are not doing this once a year because we want to add an amenity.”

In his report to the board, Town Manager Erik Nilssen said the park’s name may be part of the issue.

“There appears to be some confusion in the public as to the status of the open space,” he said. “Due to the naming convention, some residents think it is a nature park that somehow must be left in an undeveloped natural condition similar to a national park or national wildlife sanctuary.”

The park lies between new homes north of Gardnerville and the town and is home to a big pond and 1.25 miles of paved path.

“There are no protections or requirements to leave the open space in its natural condition,” Nilssen said. “The pond itself is not natural but was excavated by the developer to use the fill for building pads.”

Neighbors turned out at the June 6 town board meeting to oppose the installation of a pergola next to the trail head that would have been donated by Minden Rotary on the basis of a deed restriction.

Board attorney David Rigdon said he disagreed with the public that the restriction on structures would include a pergola.

“I have come to the conclusion that a pergola facility of this type is not within the definition of a structure or other above-ground improvement that was intended to be restricted,” he said.

He said the park benches currently on the park would violate the restriction under the broad definition used by residents.

“The trail Douglas County just built is above the ground and it’s an improvement that would also be under these broad definitions,” he said.

Deed restrictions are private contracts between those granting the property and those receiving it, Rigdon said.

“The case law is clear when you have a deed restriction,” Rigdon said. “If there is ambiguity in the language, the language of a deed restriction is construed very strictly by the courts in favor of the property owner against the person that is trying to do the deed restriction.”

Rigdon acknowledged that only the courts can actually decide the issue, but the only ones with the standing to enforce the restriction would be the grantor or their heirs.

The former Hellwinkel Ranch structures on the extreme eastern side are the only true buildings on the property, but there are occasional benches along the Martin Slough Trail, which was completed last year.


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