Don't put the charrette before the horse

Carson City supervisors will be considering this week spending another $90,000 on downtown planning.

You may recall that the city has downtown plans from 2001 and 2002, but it's in the process of rebuilding its master plan and this would tie down some details. In fact, the Fort Collins, Colo., consulting company proposing to do the work is already being paid $376,000 for its help on the master plan.

For another $90,000, the city will get:

n A review of existing conditions downtown, $10,000.

n An "alternatives charrette," $18,500. We had to look up "charrette," and it's French for cart. In this context, though, it means a two-day meeting.

n 3D visualization, $41,500. This will basically be a Sim City-like computer movie to show what downtown Carson City could look like.

n Participation by the consultant in meetings, $8,000.

n Reimbursable expenses, $11,750.

This all sounds nice - and far from necessary.

We're all in favor of downtown redevelopment. In fact, we think downtown Carson City - with significant help from City Hall - has done a remarkable turnaround over the past decade, improving itself building by building and block by block.

But what the city needs more than planning is doing. Set some priorities - like parking - and spend the money there.

Or, if not on downtown, then Carson City has plenty of other places that could use $90,000. As we recall, this is a city whose budget was too tight to find another dollar for the library.

Overall, the city could come up with just $100,000 this May to divide among 19 community organizations who perpetually have to hold raffles, car washes and bake sales to survive.

When supervisors are asked to fund more consultants, they might want to consider whether they're putting the charrette before the horse.


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