State says no fairgrounds at Stewart

After a month of review, state officials have denied a request by Carson City and the state fair to lease a portion of the old Stewart Indian school.

Stewart topped the city's list of potential relocation sites for the Carson City fairgrounds.

In December, city and state fair officials made a presentation to the governor's chief of staff, Marybel Batjer, asking to lease about 32 acres of the Stewart facility for the proposed fairgrounds and state fair relocation.

In a Jan. 9 letter to City Manager John Berkich, Carson City Sen. Mark Amodei and the state fair board of directors, Batjer noted allowing the facility to be used for a fairgrounds is not allowed under the terms of the property's transfer from the federal government.

Batjer wrote the deeds from the federal government include restrictions "to protect historic values."

According to an opinion from the state Attorney General's Office, the state could be sued over a nonhistoric use such as a fairgrounds, or a lease could trigger a revision of the property to the federal government, Batjer wrote.

She also noted the proposed lease would be inconsistent with a state master plan for the facility which pledges to restore and expand Stewart for "state use within a historic setting and encourage public appreciation for the history of the site and cultural values of Native Americans."

Amodei, who requested the review with city and state fair leaders, said Stewart is an asset in need of "some vision and some cooperation."

"I'm afraid this latest development is not indicative of any of that happening at this moment," he said. "We have a proposal to use what I believe were largely underdeveloped portions of the parcel, and the role that those undeveloped portions play in the cultural role of the complex makes me pause for reflection."

"We understand this answer," Berkich said. "We're exploring whether there is another direction to take. This doesn't absolutely closet the door."

City supervisors earlier this month decided to put the issue of moving the fairgrounds on the November ballot for an advisory vote. However, supervisors decided to pursue a new fairgrounds site to be prepared in the event the vote supports the fairgrounds' relocation.

Berkich said the city would continue to pursue other sites, including the second favorite, a site near the county line north of Highway 50 East, and the third choice off Flint Drive.

"Now there are only two other sites we can look at," said Jack Andersen, president of the Fuji Park Users Association. "One site it 18 months to two years (from being available) and the other site is Dump Road. That is not our top choice. Really, we don't want it."

Carson supervisors will receive an update today on the site selection process for the fairgrounds. Before supervisors opted for a public vote on the issue, they were to decide today to which site the fairgrounds would move. While Berkich said the opportunity to partner with the state fair still exists, the state fair will stay in Reno this year, where fair officials have said the event will die if it remains.

But the fair will "definitely be looking for a home," said Larry Pedrett, fair board member.

"If they don't like us here, maybe we should look at Clark County," he said. "It was a good opportunity for Carson City to join with the state fair and have a really good fairgrounds for the community. It seems we'll just have to muddle away for a little longer."

If you go:

What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 10 a.m., today

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


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