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Commissioners approve $5.5 million purchase of Cares Campus property

By Bob Conrad
Published: Last Updated on

Washoe County’s board of commissioners on Tuesday voted to purchase nearly five acres from the Reno Housing Authority for the Nevada Cares Campus.

The county is leasing the property at the campus but wanted to purchase it for expansion and improvements

But commissioners during their last meeting balked at the agreement. They said the RHA’s attorney added hundreds of changes to the contract at the last minute.

Washoe County attorney Mary Kandaras said the county’s current lease will be credited to the purchase price of $5.5 million. 

She also said the environmental remediation of six underground fuel tanks will be paid for in part by the City of Reno, a point RHA previously wanted the county to cover.

“The Reno Housing Authority determined they were not going to provide that, but it is my understanding there is some commitment for clean-up costs from the City of Reno and that will appear in separate agreement at another time,” Kandaras told the commissioners.

The agreement includes a $350,000 subgrant back to the housing authority to be used for affordable housing.

Commissioners approved the purchase with little discussion.

Other commission decisions

Provided by Washoe County and edited by This Is Reno

Jamie Rodriguez, selected as interim Registrar of Voters for Washoe County, showed the chain of custody for ballots and how precautions are taken so no ballot is overlooked or misread, during a media tour of the Registrar of Votes office April 27, 2022. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

Interim registrar of voters appointed

Commissioners approved the appointment of Interim Registrar of Voters, Jamie Rodriguez. Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula submitted her resignation effective July 31. 

The board accepted her resignation and approved the appointment of Rodriguez to serve as interim registrar. 

Rodriguez has worked for Washoe County for five years and assisted during the 2022 Primary Election. She will serve as interim registrar while the County recruits for a permanent registrar.

Emergency services agreement approved with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Commissioners approved a five-year agreement with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe for emergency response services in Gerlach. That includes personnel located in Gerlach, fire services and ambulance support. 

“The County has struggled to provide the necessary staffing – two full-time fire protection officers – to serve this area that includes the town of Gerlach,” officials said. 

With this agreement, the county will pay salary and benefit costs of five full-time personnel.

“I want to thank all the people who were involved in that, including our county manager and Chief Moore and the fire chief from the tribe. They all worked very hard to get this done and it was very difficult,” Commissioner Jeanne Herman said. 

First Tee gets Wildcreek Golf Course

Commissioners voted unanimously to transfer ownership of Wildcreek Golf Course in Sparks to First Tee of Northern Nevada, a non-profit youth development organization, with management by Mazz Golf Management. 

Under the terms of the agreement, First Tee will be required to operate the golf course for charitable or civic purposes. First Tee teaches life skills through the game of golf to more than 2,000 youth, ages 5 to 18. 

First Tee will begin immediately to raise funds to remodel the current clubhouse so it can be used as an after-school tutoring center, and the course will be open to the public during daytime hours while kids are in school.

Board amends master plan for Verdi property

The commissioners approved an amendment to the Washoe County Master Plan to assign a designation of industrial to two parcels in Verdi totaling just over 28 acres. The parcels are vacant and have been removed from the City of Reno’s sphere of influence and returned to Washoe County’s jurisdiction.

The County Planning Commission adopted the resolution to amend the Master Plan in May to recommend that the Board of County Commissioners amend the Master Plan.

“This has been a really difficult project and I know the community has gone through it with this project. I wish we had better processes in place,” Commissioner Alexis Hill said. “I can meet the findings. The owner has a vested right on this property. This property has been zoned industrial for 30 years. 

“If we were to change this master plan use to commercial, the underlying zone is industrial and nonconforming,” she added. “It has been brought up today that the county could go through and change that zoning but that is a very difficult legal situation for the county to put ourselves in.  The issue is that it could be perceived as a ‘takings.’ I feel like the responsible thing to do is to work with the developer and staff after the master plan is approved to get the best project for the community.” 

Commissioners Vaughn Hartung and Herman voted against the amendment. Residents were also opposed to the change.

“I’m concerned,” Hartung said. “I’ve seen these kinds of situations in Spanish Springs where you have increased truck traffic. It’s always a problem, it changes the nature of the whole area… I think that there are some real problems here.”

Three appointed wildlife board 

Three seats on the Washoe County Board to Manage Wildlife expired on June 30, and commissioners appointed Ryan Browne and incumbent Steve Robinson for the two open sportsman seats. Incumbent Jim Rhea was selected to represent the general public.

“I feel it’s very important to make sure that we have smart, intelligent, active sportsmen and women on this board for continued leadership and advice,” Commissioner Bob Lucey said. “There are so many benefits that come from conservation. Fuels management is a major issue in northern Washoe County… to maintain wildlife and their habitat, it’s not for the beauty of that but it’s very much a tool and part of our state so I want to continue to see that flourish in our area for many generations, for young kids to grow in the sport, for individuals who visit our community to see the beautiful outlying areas that are more than just our urban core.”

CORRECTION: We originally reported RHA would cover $250,000 toward the cleanup, but that provision was removed from the final agreement with the county.

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