Carson City’s bid to bring back Wal-Mart irks Douglas leaders | RecordCourier.com
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Carson City’s bid to bring back Wal-Mart irks Douglas leaders

by Jeff Munson

Three Douglas County commissioners are surprised and irritated Carson City officials have offered Fuji Park to Wal-Mart to keep the retail giant from relocating.

However, a fourth commissioner said he doesn’t blame Carson City leaders for their offer, adding Douglas County probably would have done the same thing.

The debate might put a previous agreement between the two counties in jeopardy.

“If the role was reversed, and we tried to pull all the stops, we would have at least telephoned the city manager and supervisors to let them know what we were doing. We would have conducted ourselves in a more business-like manner,” Commissioner Steve Weissinger said Thursday.

Instead, some officials say the move undermines an agreement the two counties reached earlier this year to work jointly on growth and development issues in the county line area.

“I think this agreement is probably history at this point,” said Commissioner Kelly Kite. “We entered in this with good faith, and I don’t think they’ve shown good faith on their part.”

But Douglas Commissioner Don Miner said Carson City officials were only doing their job.

“To cast blame on Carson City for doing their job, with the threat of unwinding a potential partnership, would be counterproductive to the region,” Miner said. “It would be no different if they were to boycott Douglas County if we were doing our jobs and boycotting many of the existing relationships we enjoy.”

Miner said he disagrees with his colleagues regarding future agreements with Carson City.

“Unraveling that ball of twine would be counter-productive to the many benefits the region can achieve.”

Commission Chairman Bernie Curtis echoed the sentiments of Kite and Weissinger, however, calling the move “subversive” and not living up to its word in the agreement.

“Wal-Mart has the intention to build a very large commercial enterprise in Douglas County, while Carson City seems to be trying to undermine that vision,” Curtis said.

A Wal-Mart official said though the company appreciated the offer, it is too late.

“We have closed on the property in Douglas County. We’re clearly in the planning process with Douglas. We continue to go through the process,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Hill said.

Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said the proposal is not viable and the county shouldn’t be concerned.

“I think it is a non-issue. I think they are committed to move forward on the site they’ve purchased,” Holler said. “I don’t see them making any changes in this point in the game. I’m not worried about it.”

Carson City officials offered Wal-Mart a process similar to what they used to draw Costco – putting the Fuji Park property in the city’s redevelopment district, resulting in lower construction costs and a speedy trip through the city’s planning process – in an attempt to keep the estimated $1 million in sales tax the store brings annually to Carson City.

Wal-Mart announced plans to move to Douglas County in February. Plans call for a 224,000-square-foot superstore in north Douglas County, with Wal-Mart closing its Carson City store sometime in late spring 2002.

Wal-Mart wants to expand its Carson City store into a superstore, but could not because of an agreement that doesn’t allow grocery sales that would compete with nearby Raley’s.

The company bought 39 acres just south of the Carson-Douglas line for the new store. Wal-Mart bought the property, which was owned by Capitol Courts and Edgar “Red” Roberts for $3.5 million.