By Selwyn Harris
The conspicuously strained relationship between the Town of Pahrump and the Nye County Board of Commissioners appears to be easing a bit, at least for now.
The détente was apparent during a recent town board meeting when both sides showed an eagerness to work together on the Pahrump Fairgrounds project.
Early last month, town board members voted unanimously to request Nye County fund a paving project on Fox Road leading to the fairgrounds site.
That vote passed.
Another agenda item called for the county to partner with the town in providing water, power, sewage, disposal and restroom facilities at the fairgrounds.
Nye County Community Development Director Darryl Lacy told the board that the county has already drilled a well on the site and will likely undertake more work once they determine the entire scope of the project.
“Without having specific details that I can get official board approval on, I can’t make conclusive decisions or commitments to this, but the county has already drilled a well adjacent to the fairgrounds to help provide water to this project. We have been working with Mr. Kohbarger and the other town staff for more than two years on supporting you with this project. I think that it does indicate that the county is interested in partnering with you in getting the fairgrounds completed at some level. As we get to a point where we have more details of what the project is going to look like, then I think that we can take that to the county commissioners for approval of any specific projects. I got the commitment of the county manager that staff can work with town staff to help move this forward,” he said.
Town Manager Bill Kohbarger said both town and county staff have been working on different proposals since 2010, and are still in discussions on the collaboration.
“We are meeting monthly and discussing what is the best possible solution for the entire area, but we have not set it in stone yet. You the town have asked for a report but we can’t bring a report back when it is not set in stone yet by the staffs not working it out. We are talking, and this past Friday Mr. Lacy and Mrs. Webster was at the fairgrounds to meet with Mr. Luis and I. We sat out there for more than an hour to talk about different plans and different proposals on water, sewer, electricity, and wastewater. Again, until we all get it set in stone, we don’t want to bring it to you by bit piece and bit piece,” he said.
The town manager also said he would prefer to table the item until there is a definitive agreement on how to proceed with the project.
“Basically I’m asking that this item be tabled indefinitely. We are working diligently on this and once we get something set in stone and a report done with all the costs and detailed out we will bring it back to you but we have created a partnership and we have been working this since December of 2010,” he said.
Board Chair Harley Kulkin said that he would at least like to have water available at the site.
He suggested the sooner the better.
“We now have a parking lot there, we have it graded off, and I understand that there are a lot of variables for the future and I’m looking at the near future and I think we should have something to provide water out there. Maybe a 50,000-gallon storage tank in case there’s a fire out there, the fire department would have water right there,” he said.
Lacy, meanwhile, said it’s difficult to determine how to proceed until the town submits a report to county officials with details on the next steps of the project.
“There’s no pump in the well, but until I know exactly what we are going to be supplying, it’s difficult for me to size the pump and know exactly what we are going to be doing there. I don’t know whether we are just going to provide water for a concession stand and irrigation for soccer fields or are we going to be building some additional facilities there. We’ve got to get to a point where we know what the scope of work is going to be before we can decide on the utilities to go with it,” he said.
Lacy also told the board that he did not want to put in equipment only to have it pulled out a short time later.
“I don’t want to waste a lot of money by putting in equipment on a short term basis if it’s not going to be consistent with the longer term plans. I know we need to phase the development and we are not going to be able to build a $20 or $50 million dollar project next year but we do want to make sure that what we do put in is going to mesh with our future. It is just a little bit premature to give you details on it but I will make a commitment that the county staff will work with town staff to bring something back,” he said.
Kohbarger told the board that there are many issues on the project that must be determined before more work at the site is performed which will take some time.
“It took a long time to get what we got done with the 27 acres and now we’ve got to sit down and determine where we are going to go from there. We only got permission to do those 27 acres. We’ve got wastewater issues, we’ve got water issues, we’ve got sewer issues, we have electricity issues. We are working together on this. We are not looking away and we are putting everything down. We have pages of notes on this. It’s just that we are not bringing the notes to you until something is set in stone to what direction we are going and that is why I requested this item to be tabled indefinitely until we can come up with that and it’s going to take a while,” he said.
Kulkin, meanwhile, said that the Burning Man event scheduled for Memorial Day weekend at the fairgrounds site is expected to go on as planned.
“Mr. Kohbarger met with the organizer Dirk Schmidhofer and I think they finalized any details they are working for the contract that will be brought before the board. One nice thing is that they will be hiring local businesses to provide some of the necessities like port-a-potties and all that kind of stuff. They will be spending money in town to make it all happen. We’re certainly hoping for an annual event where people will go spend money in Pahrump, which translates to jobs,” he said.
Kulkin also remarked on rumors that the festival will be a venue for hedonism including sex, drug use and open nudity.
“I would challenge any of those people saying all that kind of stuff. The Burning Man event up north has a tremendous amount of law enforcement presence. I have never heard anything like that going on. This has been going on for years. It’s the typical naysayers with the least amount of knowledge. They are self-appointed experts,” he said.
Board members eventually voted 5-0 to table the county and town partnership agenda item.
It will be picked up again on May 28, with a presentation and report to board members.