By Selwyn Harris
The proposed development of a tourist attraction in Pahrump is drawing a few high profile players into the mix as of late.
On Tuesday, Pahrump Town Manager Bill Kohbarger, along with board members Harley Kulkin and Dr. Tom Waters, met with former Gov. Bob List and two executives from Front Sight during a working lunch.
Front Sight is a popular firearms training institute in the southwest part of the valley.
Kohbarger said on Thursday that the meeting allowed all parties to discuss the current and next phase of the tourism project often referred to as the theme park proposal.
“It was just a get-together to talk about possible Bill Draft Requests BDR and moving forward with several projects in town. We are in phase II and Chris Brown with Contour Entertainment and his staff are working diligently in putting together what should be a very good plan and I will be sitting down with my people and going over it and getting with Chris and his people and find the best plan of action. We will review it, tear it apart and put it back together again,” he said.
At present, it is unknown how much, or if at all, the town will receive financial support from the additional players who have shown interest in the project.
So far, the town officials have invested more than $200,000 in taxpayer funds for the first two phases.
Kohbarger noted that there will be several more phases as the project moves along.
He also said that once all of the dust has settled, the project could easily boost the town’s economy and prominence in Nevada.
“If it’s successful, it will bring jobs and positive growth to the town of Pahrump,” he said.
Kulkin, on the other hand, said that he’s pleased Front Sight officials have shown some interest in getting involved in the project.
“We are looking at a possible partnership with Front Sight and the Town of Pahrump. Naturally, the more people you have involved, the more you share your financial liabilities to get something done and it benefits everybody. If you do it on your own, it costs a lot more money. We came up with a tentative agreement so to speak and we are waiting for some information. The next step will be the town staff and attorney will review the information to see if it is good for the town’s side,” he said.
The project has its share of detractors.
Some vocal residents expressed displeasure during town board meetings at the cost and scope of the project citing the price tag as one of their main grievances.
Brown estimated that more than $600,000 will be spent on the project before ground is anywhere near broken.
He said there are many other things that need to be addressed before any actual work begins.
“To get all the way through conceptual development, and financial planning, the work that has to occur with the state legislature to get incentives in place. There were some additional costs that were not included, including lobbyists at the Carson City level to help get the legislation to pass. The direct response is that amount of some $600,000, plus, depending on what other costs are adding in there was intended to get you substantially through that process so you would have a vision, you would have a pro-forma, you would have a business plan that is associated with that. You would also have the state legislation in process with the intention of getting that approved, which is something that cannot happen until the legislature sits in 2013, next year,” he said.
Kulkin said the former governor and Front Sight officials will be joined by a former Nevada senator to provide added credibility to the project.
“Richard Bryan is also part of this project. Unfortunately, Bryan was not able to attend the Tuesday meeting because he was out of town but he is a big part of this project as well. It’s about putting together a BDR and he will be one of our lobbyists up in Carson City. He is very well known and very well respected and they all believe in our project and the expansions at Front Sight and our fairgrounds development. We the town will take the lead when this happens and it will support things throughout the state. Of course, we are the entertainment state and anything we can do to help build tourism means jobs and dollars for Nevada,” he said.
Kulkin noted that Nye County must do something more to bolster its standing in Nevada.
“I hate saying this but the fact of the matter is Pahrump and Nye County are not exactly held in high esteem and we are going to have to have our guns loaded pretty well to get anything passed. This is something that benefits the whole state as well and we are trying to change Nye County and Pahrump’s image. We have to get some positive things happening and this could be really good,” he said.
Waters said even though he sees a lot of promise, he can’t help but have just a few reservations in the project as it moves along.
“I’m still a little leery about it. I’m hoping that something will come up in the next review that we are going to get from Contour. I’ve said over and over that I want something that when I see it, I’m going to say, ‘Wow. That’s what we need here in Pahrump.’ As I told Chris Brown and several others who have listened to me on it, if I don’t get that, there is no way I could go forward with this,” he said.
Waters did note that Tuesday’s meeting seemed to have given him a bit more confidence in the overall project.
“In listening to the people around the table, they are very interested in all of this moving forward. As long as it is maintained here in the town, I want to be positive about it and I want to keep an open mind. When I see the heavy hitters involved, it looks a whole lot more like this could move forward real fast,” he said
Another thing that impressed Waters was the fact that List happened to mention a few other high profile individuals who may also come on board with the project.
“I don’t know Gov. List. Is he a name dropper? I don’t know, but he didn’t sound like somebody who was just going to drop names. He is a former governor and he has some heavy hitters on his side with this,” he said.
Waters also said that with the addition of Front Sight’s apparent interest the project seems even more conceivable.
“With that in mind, I see things going forward in that direction,” he noted.
Economic developer Don HolBrook, who was initially a key player in the Pahrump project, also attended the meeting. Holbrook, who is mired in litigation in Ohio, is now associated with Front Sight, according to Kohbarger.
Brown, during testimony before both the county commissioners and town board several weeks ago, distanced him and the Pahrump project from Holbrook, raising questions about Holbrook’s sudden reappearance.
Contour Entertainment officials are expected to meet with town officials within the next few weeks.