It's a mushroom. It's a tree, no, it's open space! Open space committee tours improved property

Open Space Manager Juan Guzman stands next to a shade structure at the recently improved open space property above Edmonds Drive overlooking Carson City and the Carson River area.

Open Space Manager Juan Guzman stands next to a shade structure at the recently improved open space property above Edmonds Drive overlooking Carson City and the Carson River area.

The best way to find Carson City's first improved piece of open space is to look for its shade structure.

Just north of the Fifth Street roundabout, east of Edmonds Drive, the structure's brown and stone colors blend into a background of rocks, marking the Moffat property as the city's first protected open space.

The structure was recently completed, along with trails, benches and a parking lot in the $61,000 project, but on a tour of the parcel Monday, open space committee members seemed pressed to find words to describe it.

"A cow catcher on the V&T locomotive stuck on a pole?" committee member Dan Jacquet ventured.

No? He tried again to describe the hallmark of what he calls "quality urban open space."

"A set of cattle guards leaning against a highway abutment?" he asked.

"A modern interpretation of a gazebo," Laura Bird offered.

"It's just that general tree look," Open Space Chairman Steve Hartman said.

Michael Williams, who lives blocks from the open space parcel, took dogs Dakota and Rambo for a walk on the site Monday, and looking at the structure ventured that it was a " pyramid-type thing sitting on a pedestal."

"Are they going to finish it?" he asked.

No, it's done.

"I thought they would fill in this side like the other one," he said before moving on with his dogs.

But Williams used the parcel long before the city purchased it in 2000 and thinks the improvements are a benefit.

"This is a good place for resting, thinking and meditating," he said. "It has a perfect view of the Sierra, and it's quiet."

That should be music to the ears of the open space committee members, because the stunning views of the Sierra to the west and the Carson River to the east are part of the reason the committee pursued purchase of the property. It also sits at the juncture of two, key city trails, the Linear Park and Mexican Ditch trails.

Huddled against the chill of the wind on Monday, open space committee members toured the site, some for the first time.

"This is a great view," Michael Fischer said. "I didn't realize what a great view this is E what a good piece of property this is."

With dark clouds threatening a storm over the Sierra, he turned into the wind and pointed to the bottom of the property, the flat part that abuts Edmonds Drive.

"That whole area could have been developed," he said. "This is what this area needs."

Committee member Margaret Robinson thinks the improvements are "wonderful."

"I like conserving everything we can for future generations," she said. "When we have a gift like we did from the property owner, it helps."

"It represents the community's willingness to come together and support awareness of the value of open space and how it impacts our quality of life," Bird added.

Whatever that shade structure -- which Open Space Manager Juan Guzman effuses as "Gorgeous. Glorious." -- looks like to those who use the parcel, the design may become a signature of future open space property. Soon, the property also will boast a marker noting the property's previous owner, William Moffat, and his donation of much of the land to the city. He sold the property, about 18 acres worth almost $1 million, to the city for $327,000.

Open space planning has been in the works since the passage of the Quality of Life initiative in 1996. Question 18 authorized a quarter of 1 percent sales tax increase to fund open space, parks and trails. The tax raises about $1.7 million a year with 40 percent going toward open space, 40 percent toward parks and 20 percent for maintenance of new park projects.

Currently, the committee is eyeing the potential purchases of property at the top of C Hill and a meadow in Kings Canyon. They also agreed, at the request of the Bureau of Land Management, last year to a $1 million purchase of property next to Prison Hill. The BLM hopes to repay the city for the property, which was a bulldozer scrape away from becoming a housing development.


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