Carson City is taking an important first step in the process to add parking along Highway 50 East in front of Mills Park.
This week the bike path along the highway is being moved inside the park boundaries, and by Monday should be paved.
With special event season dawning in Carson City, the path's move is a welcome development to help solve a chronic special events parking problem.
The path has been at the center of a yearly dispute between Carson City and the Nevada Department of Transportation. Promoters who host their events at Mills Park contend that people should be able to see an event while driving by and be able to park and attend without fear of getting a ticket. The state issues permits for the use of the area in front of the park. But last year, the state curtailed special event parking on Highway 50 over concerns about vehicles blocking the bike path and backing out into traffic. The state decided after last year's Fourth of July celebration it would issue no more special events parking permits for the area until a permant plan was addressed.
The city reacted with a design for 57 spaces along the fence between the park and highway. But no money is available to build the spaces in a temporary phase estimated at $53,000.
Parks and Recreation Director Steve Kastens said this was the city's good faith effort to continue with a permanent parking plan for the site even though no funding is available.
"If we get the path relocated the state will grant us waivers to allow parallel parking along Highway 50 during special events," Kastens said. "Until we get the final parking done, they're a little uncomfortable giving us the permits. But getting the path off the highway right of way was one of the biggest hurdles."
The movement of the bike path was paid for by a $16,000 donation from the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. The work on the path is being done by the city parks and recreation and street departments. Park Planner Vern Krahn said two local business agreed to reduce the costs of their materials to help the city work within their budget. T.E. Bertagnolli & Associates and Marv McQueary Excavating reduced costs on items such as asphalt and paving work.
The 12-foot path is being moved inside the fence from Oxoby Loop to the Pony Express Pavilion.