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Downtown amphitheater to receive facelift
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Feb 10, 2014 | 1044 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne -- The amphitheater in downtown Sparks will receive more than $250,000 in renovations to repair the roof and ceiling allowing the long-time venue to once again play a role in Sparks events.
Tribune photo by John Byrne -- The amphitheater in downtown Sparks will receive more than $250,000 in renovations to repair the roof and ceiling allowing the long-time venue to once again play a role in Sparks events.
The Sparks City Council voted unanimously Monday to allow Houston Smith Construction to restructure the roof and ceiling, and to make other general improvements, to the Victorian Square Amphitheater in downtown Sparks.

The amphitheater has stood in Sparks since 1989 and was used for various events during its time in the city, but in the past two years the amphitheater has been a nesting ground for birds, according to Assistant Community Services Director John Martini. The project to enclose the roof and ceiling, replace the main lighting with LED lights and remove the roosting locations for the birds will cost about $268,000.

“The roof joists are exposed and part of the roof is uncovered, which has created an ideal roosting location for birds,” Martini said in his report. The enclosed roof will close off access for birds, which Martini said has “made it impossible to keep the building clean.”

The approval of the project came with the stipulation that city staff look into other sources of funding for the project rather than putting off bike path restoration for one year and using leftover budget money from Elevator Retrofit and Upgrades Project. The City Council hopes to use funds generated from room tax revenues specifically slated for Victorian Square redevelopment.

Rather than deny the project or suggest tearing down the amphitheater due to its age, Sparks Parks and Recreation officials said its use would be immediately available to event planners.

“We have about 41 events in downtown Sparks and I can tell you about half of them will be using the amphitheater,” said Francine Burge, special events manager. “We have heard from several event planners that the amphitheater stage is one less stage that they have to rent and set up. They like the idea of it being readily available.”

Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Domingues said the venue would also be an amenity for the public during downtown events, offering shaded seating even when a specific program was not taking place inside the amphitheater.

The City Council directed city staff to develop possible zoning code amendments allowing medical marijuana establishments in non-residential zones in coordinance with recently signed Senate Bill 374, which directs the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to develop regulations for, and oversee the creation of, licensed establishments to produce, test and dispense cannabis and cannabis-infused products to authorized patients.

Currently, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has drafted regulations that are presumed to be approved by March or April, according to Sparks City Planner Armando Ornelas.

Ornelas said SB 374 has various provisions and includes restrictions prohibiting medical marijuana establishments within 1,000 feet of public or private schools or within 300 feet of a “community facility,” which is defined by the state as a day care, public park, playground, public pool, recreation facility for children or adults or a church or other religious facility.

Ornelas said SB 374 stipulates that each medical marijuana establishment must comply with local ordinances and rules pertaining to zoning, land use and signage. Amendments to Title 20, the City of Sparks Zoning Ordinance, would be needed to conform with state law to allow medical marijuana establishments in Sparks.

Ornelas said another agenda item would come before the City Council concerning business licenses for medical marijuana establishments which, if approved, will allow city staff to look at amending Title 5.

The Sparks City Council also approved the 2014 4th Street Curb, Gutter and Pedestrian Improvements to Sierra Nevada Construction for about $312,000. The improvements will take place between Prater and Victorian ways and from Pyramid Way to 4th Street.

Martini said the current roadway structure was developed in the early 1940s, leaving the concrete walkways and curbing deteriorated and needing replacement. Martini said the gutter does not drain as designed and as a result street trees will be removed during the project as they are causing much of the damage.
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