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Officials get cold feet on Guardian Park project

County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen Tuesday wanted his board to approve $150,000, in principle only, for the proposed Guardian Park project at the Pahrump Fairgrounds site. His motion died, however, for a lack of a second.

Commission Chairman Butch Borasky wanted the ball thrown back in the Pahrump Town Board’s court. Schinhofen said he was asked by a town board member to have the county commission look at it first.

County commissioners had too many questions about the proposed project and promoter Jim Ward didn’t show up to answer them. The plan is for the town to donate another $150,000 and promoters $150,000.

Guardian Park would be like the moving Vietnam War memorial wall, a scaled down model of the actual wall in Washington, D.C. which is inscribed with the names of the war casualties. The moving wall was exhibited at the Saddle West Hotel and Casino on a stop in Pahrump. It drew big crowds.

Ward is president and founder of the patriotic organization Before They Go Inc. Besides veterans, the park would honor emergency services personnel. It was touted as a tourist draw. County commissioners already had the donation on a previous agenda but it was scratched.

Schinhofen said he was at a loss what to do, but wanted to get the county commission to approve allocating the money in principle, without naming the fund it would be taken from, then forward the idea to the Pahrump town board.

The money would have been taken out of a special capital projects endowment fund. County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman was concerned about dwindling the principal in the endowment funds, which were built up from money Nye County used to receive for the Yucca Mountain project. Comptroller Susan Paprocki said the endowment funds could only be used for projects on county land or for a county facility, the 427-acre fairgrounds property was deeded to the Town of Pahrump in the 1990s by an act of Congress.

Borasky said he had a lot of questions.

“We’ve not heard from the Town of Pahrump and I think the right way to do that would be to talk to them first, not last. I’ve heard indications from one town board member they don’t want to use that land,” Borasky said.

He added during the first presentation, Ward said he didn’t want any money, only the land. Now the amount of money requested is growing and growing.

But Borasky added, “I support our vets, I stand toe-to-toe with them any time they need me. I don’t want to say anything negative on it, I think it’s a great idea.”

Commissioner Frank Carbone said, “I don’t understand what the $450,000 is for. I don’t see anything getting built.”

The money would go toward planning, not actual construction. The implementation budget calls for $110,000 annually for project members’ salaries, $70,000 to complete a market and financial feasibility evaluation, $30,000 to prepare a preferred program facilities layout concept plan, $25,000 to complete one year of capacity building, $20,000 to execute a land use agreement and $10,000 each for fundraising and developing a site plan development budget.

Pahrump Town Board member Tom Waters was in the audience but didn’t speak to advocate for the project. Schinhofen said Waters is listed on the Before They Go Inc. website as being on their board.

Waters said he didn’t like the county commission dictating to the town board what to do. He only wanted commissioners to endorse the project. While the fairgrounds property may not necessarily be used for the Guardian Park Project, Waters said the town would be opposed to having to turn the fairgrounds site over to the county.

Waters said the town board has hesitated to act on funding the project while they await the pending Supreme Court decision on the ballot question, which if upheld, would revert them to advisory board status.

“I’ve only brought this forward because the veterans have asked me to bring this forward. I think this would be a good project,” Schinhofen said. “The town board has control of the land. What I was looking for was that we would at least in principle say we’ll do the 150 contingent on the town does 150 and they raise 150 on their own and also the money would never go into their hands, we would pay bills up to that amount.”

Wichman told Schinhofen if he wanted to show support for the project his comments are included in the public record of the commission meeting.