The Nevada Department of Transportation board on Monday approved condemnation proceedings to force a Silver Springs couple to give up their home for the USA Parkway project.
They did so with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s direction to NDOT staff to continue negotiating with Ann and Michael Watts to find a fair price for their 5-acre parcel. He made clear he would rather avoid the legal condemnation process. But the board put the resolution in place, because of the aggressive Parkway construction schedule.
Michael Watts, a metallurgical engineer currently working in Alaska, said they understand the land is needed for the project connecting the Dayton Corridor to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center but the offer NDOT staff has made for the property is far less than it would cost them to relocate to a comparable home.
The property on Opal Avenue is directly in line with what would be the Parkway’s beginning at Highway 50.
The state has offered them $190,000 for the land and 2,000 square foot home.
One reason for the offer is NDOT staff says the home is rental property since the couple lives in Alaska.
The Watts are asking $600,000 because of the significant improvements they say would be needed to make a new home ADA and mobility impaired accessible for them. Ann Watts, her husband said, has spent a significant amount of the past few years in a wheelchair or using a walker. Because of that, he said they put significant resources into their existing home.
“What we’re looking for is an honest comparable,” he said.
The current NDOT offer, he said, “places all the burden and risk on our shoulders to be able to come out whole.”
“The state of Nevada is taking our home for less money than we paid for it and kicking us out,” she told the board.
They said they are about to retire from Alaska and return to Silver Springs, which they said was always their planned permanent home.
NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon told the board the couple included relocation and other expenses in their counter-offer while the state put in just the property value.
He said they need to provide some of the evidence staff needs to properly judge how much the state should pay in relocation and other compensation above the value of the land and home.
Because of the lack of comparable properties in the Dayton corridor, he said it’s also difficult to judge the value of the property. But he said NDOT right of way staff will continue to work with the Watts to find a reasonable settlement and hopefully avoid having to go to court and condemn the property.
The parkway is a $75.9 million project to connect Highway 50 at Silver Springs/Dayton with Interstate 80 through the industrial center. It has been described as an essential element of the program to bring Tesla, Switch and other major companies to northern Nevada and to provide the roadway connection they need to move goods to and from TRIC.
It sill also provide access to the Silver Springs Airport, which state officials say would become a hub for UPS, Fed-X and other carriers bringing goods to the industrial park.
Ames Construction won the contract, promising to finish 125 days ahead of the December 2017 deadline set for the work.
Phase one begins this June with improvements to the existing six miles of road from the I-80 Interchange at Patrick through the industrial center. Then the contractor will work on the four miles of existing gravel road before building the remaining 8.5 miles of road through the Virginia Range to Highway 50 at Opal Drive.