City asking state to share costs of path

Carson City supervisors bowed Thursday to a subdued approach in asking the state to pay for the proposed multi-use path along the freeway.

The approach is less forceful than asking the state to pay for the entire path and is guided by the idea, "if you don't ask, you don't get."

Supervisors approved a resolution for the state transportation board Thursday asking the Nevada Department of Transportation to help build retaining walls in the areas where at least 16 feet of freeway right of way isn't available.

Supervisors also asked that the state share the cost of restoring native plants and shrubs to the freeway slopes. Any extra costs associated with landscaping and the path would fall to the city.

"If it comes to Carson City paying for it, the costs won't fall on the taxpayers," Mayor Ray Masayko said. "Not with extra property taxes or gas taxes. Not with this mayor's vote. After a contribution of $19 million and of sacrificing 15 years of work to our own roads, there is no more on the table here."

Supervisors made the recommendation, however, with no hint of what action state officials are recommending to the state transportation board.

"We're trying to salvage our future based on reactions to and reminiscences of conversations" with Transportation Director Tom Stephens, Supervisor Robin Williamson said. "No one is happy about this, on the board, on staff or in the community. We're trying to make stone soup here. I guess our impression is unless we open up our checkbook, NDOT is not going to cooperate one bit. But if you don't ask you don't get."

The state board, chaired by Gov. Kenny Guinn, is slated to decide Tuesday on a resolution the city passed in February, which called for a linear park. City and state staff and path supporters including Muscle Powered and Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides have come a long way since February to pare down the park concept to a more feasible solution. City officials and path supporters are asking the state to consider their most recent attempt to compromise on the issue.

One of the reasons the state has given for not wanting to build the Carson City path is that if one is built here, other cities will want one.

"We need to remind (the state board) that somebody has to be first," Williamson said. "The way things have always been done isn't the way is should be done forever. Carson City doesn't mind being first."

City supervisors and path proponents conceded Thursday that the state would probably not pick up the tab for a $3.5 million multi-use path. The state offered to build a small portion of the path and stripe bike lanes from Highway 50 to Carson Street via Northridge Drive, Roop Street and College Parkway, an option which both the city and advocates find unacceptable as path alternative.

"A bike lane environment is not the same as a path environment," Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said. "We will stripe those lanes anyway because it's on our (bike) plan. All the (state) is offering to do is stripe them for us."

Carson resident David Ruf, owner of the Greenhouse Garden Center, feels so strongly about the importance of a landscaped freeway and multi-use path he offered to donate 500 plants a year for the next four years to help landscape the freeway.

Several local groups like Muscle Powered and GROW created a homegrown effort starting in 1999 to ensure that the freeway would be landscaped and would have a multi-use trail skirting its base.

The cost of landscaping hasn't been addressed but the original $7.5 million cost of the bike path dropped to $3.5 million through city and state cooperation to make the price more reasonable. Path supporters say the path will be the spine of the city's 45-mile, $11 million bike path system, providing an alternative form of transportation and creating a recreational draw for Carson City.


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