Downtown parking, sewer rate hikes, flood control, Golden Eagle Regional Park and Black History Month topped the Sparks City Council agenda on Monday.
Councilmen also discussed the possibility of establishing a Tax Increment District (TIA) for the Kiley Ranch development in Spanish Springs. On Monday, Sparks City Councilmen learned about the TIA proposal, which is legal under state law (Nevada Revised Statute 278C).
Some of the taxes collected from this area would be diverted to finance construction, acquisition and public improvements, such as roads, sidewalks and storm drains. At a special council meeting in October, Kiley Ranch Communities requested the TIA be established.
Sparks Finance Director Tom Minton said a $100,000 deposit was needed to pay initial costs and expenses to investigate the viability of creating the TIA and issuing bonds, which the developer paid.
There will be a public hearing on the issue at the Feb. 25 Sparks City Council meeting.
Victorian Square parking
Sparks City Councilmen also discussed the need for more parking in downtown Sparks.
In an effort to cut down on parking hassles in Victorian Square, a new ordinance requires all new property owners to provide the normal allotment of parking spaces for their businesses in the future.
Businesses in the downtown redevelopment core — generally located along Victorian Avenue and C Street just past the movie theater, and the streets that intersect Victorian and C Street — are currently exempt from providing the allotment of parking spaces that businesses within the rest of the city must provide.
"At your Dec. 12 meeting, the council said this is an issue that must be resolved," said Victor Villarreal, senior planner with Sparks Community Development Department.
Now, new property owners in that area will be required to provide more parking spaces. Property owners may request a waiver from the requirement, which may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
This could prove to be a challenge should any major Victorian Square property owner attempt to sell their property without providing sufficient parking — as in the case of several downtown restaurants, such as Great Basin Brewing Company, O'Ski's Pub and Grille, The Blind Onion and others. The parking lot behind many of these businesses — often used by business patrons — is currently closed and is for sale.
In a separate motion related to Victorian Square, the Sparks City Council voted to retain RTKL Nevada Corp. to complete $131,000 in design work for redevelopment efforts surrounding the Century-14 movie theater. In three months, the city council will determine if it will pay an additional $62,000 for RTKL to design the proposed Sparks City Hall and municipal services building in the same area.
Sewer rate hike
Proposed rate hikes to repair an ancient sewer system and fund future flood control were discussed during a first reading of two new city ordinances.
Customers can expect to see higher sewer bills in the near future, as Sparks staff attempts to break even on sewer operations, and repair aging sewer pipes and storm drains, including some that are 100 years old.
Staff said the oldest sewer lines are buried near the Truckee River. About 9 percent of these utilities date back to the city's incorporation in 1905, and 52 percent of Sparks drains and sewer facilities are more than 35 years old. According to the report, the expected life span of one drain is 50 years.
If the council approves the proposed rate hikes at the Feb. 25 meeting, average residential sewer rates will rise from the current rate of $18.25 to $24.17 per month by 2012.
Sparks Industrial Area flood protection
Sparks city staff is also pushing to include a $5.41 monthly fee to fund the city's estimated $100 million share of the Truckee River Flood Control Project.
The money would relocate the North Truckee Drain to provide protection to the Sparks Industrial Area, and thus hundreds of businesses and nearly 25 percent of all jobs in the city of Sparks. Flood Control Project Manager Paul Urban said a flood of the same caliber as the 1997 New Year's flood today would cause more than $1 billion in damage to the area.
The drain that runs along Sparks Boulevard would be moved to intersect the Truckee River at a point further east past the Vista Boulevard narrows.
The city’s costs to realign the North Truckee Drain would most likely be credited toward its share of the overall plan, said Sparks Utility Manager JoAnn Meacham.
All told, the average monthly sewer bill would total $21.37 for residents this year, if the rate hike and flood control fee are approved. The Sparks sewer rates — even after the rate hike — would still fall below the rates that Washoe County and Reno residents pay.
Golden Eagle Regional Park
Sparks City Councilmen also directed that the remaining $120,000 in Northern Sparks park impact fees be used to buy scoreboards for athletic fields and play equipment for Golden Eagle Regional Park.
More than 80 percent of the park is completed, with softball fields set to open on March 21, Babe Ruth baseball fields to open for the a tournament on March 28 and three park buildings to open in March.
The park is located across from the Vista Boulevard entrance to Wingfield Springs and Redhawk Golf Course and will be a sports complex and regional park.
Golden Eagle will include six softball fields, two full-size baseball fields, two youth baseball fields, a stadium-sized multi-use field for soccer or football, two multi-purpose fields, four volleyball courts, bocce ball area, two concession stands, a 7,200 square-foot concession venue, and a maintenance building. All fields will be lighted, and stadium-sized bleachers and parking will be constructed.
Sparks' Contractor Q&D Construction has also set a goal to open the Little League fields in April, the multi-use fields by June and complete the entire project by the end of summer.
As part of the park, the Pah Rah Range Trailhead and Interpretive Facility will include a 3,000 square-foot outdoor classroom plaza with a stepped, seating-wall type of amphitheater. A three-quarter mile paved trail will be constructed, along with native landscaping, interpretive signs, restrooms and parking for the new Pah Rah Range Trailhead.
Black History Month
Mayor Geno Martini also proclaimed February as Black History Month to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans.
During the month of February, "residents are encouraged to reflect on the past success and challenges of African Americans and look to the future to continue to improve society so that we all live up to the ideals of freedom and equality," said Mayor Geno Martini.
"As a result of their hard work, intelligence and perseverance, African Americans have made lasting contributions to the City of Sparks, Washoe County and our state, achieving exceptional success in all aspects of society," Martini said.