Parks are for recreation, not for business

We didn't fight the fight over Fuji Park to see it become a car lot.

So it was with considerable relief we saw the Carson City Parks and Recreation Commission turn down a request from Dick Campagni to showcase his dealerships at something of a car fair next May.

City supervisors are being mighty nice to Campagni by helping to finance a new dealership on South Carson Street, but this has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the purpose of public parks.

In case you've moved to town in recent years (and we know there are more than a few who have), Fuji Park and the fairgrounds were the focus of an intense discussion - and public vote - in 2002, when some city officials had the idea it might be better suited as a site for a shopping center.

Residents voted 54-42 percent against development of the fairgrounds property. Supervisors upheld their wishes and spent a considerable amount of money improving Fuji Park, much of it coming from the earlier sale of city land to Costco.

To see it become a car lot would have been, well, disappointing - the same as if somebody decided to showcase 135 washing machines, or backyard barbecues, or low-interest home mortgages in the park.

The commission's logic was correct. Once you open the door to commercial uses, it might never be closed again.

Would a car display be different from the popular show-and-shines of classic cars? Absolutely. The speedway provides sport and entertainment, like a rodeo only louder.

But how does a car show differ from, say, a farmers market in the Pony Express Pavilion or crafts booths set up during various fairs in Mills Park?

It's all about the primary purpose of the event and who's doing the profiting. Farmers markets and craft fairs are at least as much social events as they are commercial ones. And usually the organizing group is government- or charity-backed.

Parks are great for recreation. Parking lots are great for business.


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