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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
August 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Eclectic Observer
by Janet Ross
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Janet Ross
Janet Ross

The City of Sparks has something in common with the tale of the Ugly Duckling. Remember how the tiny “duck” later evolved into a beautiful, elegant swan? Think back to 1968 in Sparks when the Helms Construction Company operated a large gravel pit (north of I80, east of McCarran Blvd). The pit may have been a local eyesore, but it provided employment for the area and served a need for gravel in the construction industry.

As the years passed, the pit grew deeper and deeper, ending up 100 feet below the original land surface. The pit was closed in 1987 when it was discovered the ground was contaminated with chemicals and solvents seeping into the huge hole. Help! What to do?

Declared a Toxic Superfund Site, a cleanup ensued and the pit was finally declared free of contamination in 1996. City of Sparks officials made the decision to use the fine dollars received from pit contaminators for a small lake and recreational park to replace the gravel pit. The Sparks Marina “pond” and park were created.

Original plans were to fill the pit to a depth of 30 feet. Mother Nature had something else in mind, and the floods of 1997 brought the pond to a genuine lake depth of 100 feet deep, covering an area of 77 acres. (In fact, to maintain the lake level ever since the City of Sparks pumps about two-million gallons from the Marina lake into the Truckee river daily.) Sparks has an excellent record when it comes to creating public parks, and the new Marina bears that out. The area has two public beaches, picnic areas, volleyball courts, bicycle and hiking trails, a fishing pier, dog park, boat ramps, and a children's playground.

Special activities are scheduled year-round, including wake boarding competitions, water-cross races, community charity walks, and a kids free fishing day. There's even an Adventure Day at the Marina for people with disabilities. A walk (or jog) around the Marina on paved surface all the way is a comfortable two miles at an elevation of 4,413 feet.

Fishermen and women can (with a license) try their luck to catch spotted bass, largemouth bass, green sunfish, carp, catfish and four types of trout.

Boating is limited to those that can be hand launched, with electric motors, sails, or people powered.

Sparks Marina

The Sparks Marina Park comprises 109 attractive areas and is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The two public beaches are dressed with sand from Lake Tahoe and Lifeguards are on duty from the end of May until early September (for exact hours check the City of Sparks Spring/Summer Activity Guide or There are restrooms with showers. Picnicers can bring a small, gas grill, but charcoal ones are not allowed, nor or glass containers or alcoholic beverages. Your dog must be on a leash, except when romping in the dog park. And, you're requested not to feed any of the wildlife (mostly squirrels and water fowl).

Sparks Marina will host the 2nd Annual Northern Nevada Dragon Boat Festival this August 18th, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's a free event, unless you're a competitor (details at the website; expect local vendors, food and entertainment.

You'll find the Marina at the corner of East Lincoln Way and Howard Drive in Sparks; street parking is free on the north and west sides of the lake. See you there!