Fairground's new location uncertain

State officials still insist the Stewart Complex is not a feasible relocation site for the Carson City Fairgrounds.

City Manager John Berkich included the site in recent studies for a fairgrounds relocation site, saying there could be an opportunity "benefit" between the city and the State Fair looking at the sites. With the State Fair's position, state officials may view the proposal in a better light, Berkich said.

"We believe it has great potential and would be a disservice to all the stake holders if that weren't given consideration," Berkich said.

State Fair officials in July said they had no meetings with state officials on the potential move.

However, Pam Wilcox, administrator of the state Public Lands Division, said she recently received a letter from state fair officials asking whether Stewart is available. Wilcox said the letter states the current Washoe County site doesn't meet the fair's needs and the extra space at Stewart would be a better site for them.

Wilcox said while state officials will entertain any request put to them, she is "mystified" why the city is again considering Stewart.

"We had meetings with the city over a year ago. They wanted to make a pitch to move the park to Stewart, and all of us from state agencies with jurisdiction (at Stewart) were there," Wilcox said. "We were cool to that and we discouraged them. We acquired Stewart for state use."

The Carson City Parks and Recreation Commission will choose a site today for the fairground's relocation. Stewart tops the list of six relocation sites. Stewart, once the site of one of the West's largest Indian schools, is deemed by some to be an ideal location because of it's Fuji Park-like attributes such as mature trees and a creek. The city's "Stewart Fairground Vision" shows fairgrounds in a U-shape around existing development.

Mike Meizel, director of state building and grounds, said while he has had conversations with both state fair and city officials, he doesn't "have reason to believe the state has changed it's position."

Although Meizel sympathizes with state fair organizers, he said a fairgrounds of any kind at Stewart doesn't mesh with the state's plans for the facility.

"The State Fair is caught up in a position in Reno that no longer seems to benefit rural activities like the state fair," Meizel said. "They're just looking for a site where they can be for the future."

Meizel said the critical state issue is having the land tied up indefinitely.

"We still have plans," he said. "Use of the state land would have to benefit the state. While the State Fair has a benefit for Nevada, I don't know that it's being enough to take 40 acres of land forever."

While the state may consider the State Fair's request, the answer to Carson City's request "will be the same as it has always been," Wilcox said. "Stewart is not available."

State Fair officials were not immediately available for comment Friday or Monday.

What: Carson City Parks and Recreation meeting

When: 5:30 p.m., today

Where: the Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.


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