Scene In Passing: ‘Truth,’ like beauty, often in beholder’s eye

Truth, in these days of hype and sideswipe, is much like beauty or ugliness.

Quite often it’s in the eye of the beholder.

To some what is beauty is ugliness to others, and vice versa. To some what is history is absent from the minds of others. To some what is fantasy to others is reality. We are often at loggerheads because truth becomes a wounded victim in the battle to put forth pre-determined points of view without much grounding in research or understanding of the way things work.

Research into history, facts or figures, and the half-century direction a community takes to make slow but steady decisions and progress get lost in the shuffle of current hoopla. That’s why last week in this space we began a trek forward from the 1950s to track the emergence of Carson City’s freeway bypass from inception to the imminent 2017 completion, pairing it with the downtown makeover long contemplated by city fathers and mothers.

Let’s pick up with the 1983 community master plan. In the economic development section, an objective included this: “To revitalize the downtown by capitalizing on its history and diversity.” A corresponding recommendation: “Encourage the study of impacts of traffic alternatives. Encourage the adoption of the most acceptable alternatives by the state Department of Transportation for early implementation.”

That 32-year-old document’s transportation section noted both the planned bypass and efforts to facilitate movement of traffic within the city rather than the movement of non Carson City and non-city oriented traffic. Carson City leaders and residents, in other words, have grappled with all this for much longer than some might have you believe.

In 1996, under streets and highways, updated master plan policy 9.4 urges a review of “all proposed development within 500 feet of the adopted Nevada Department of Transportation 395 bypass to assure compatibility and compliance.”

Under policy 11.2, that 19-year-old plan orders officials “review the coordination efforts between the state’s Capitol complex plan and that of the city downtown master plan, and redevelopment process.”

In 2005-06, the Envision Carson City Master Plan process went through the gauntlet of public review. Only an intervening not-so-great recession sidetracked the resulting two lane Carson Street concept, making the $12 million price tag a high hurdle. Since then it has morphed into a three-lane proposal with a middle turn lane, wide sidewalks and an $11 million cost. City fathers and mothers believe now is the time with a healthier economy returning.

As for those who hurl around hyperbole about the cancer of growth and the nefarious way all this was done, you have to ask yourself whether a master planning process and normal community vetting of decisions ever reached the radar screen of such people. Nefarious? That’s hilarious. And voters didn’t reject this plan in 2012; that was a different public-private plan that deserved rejection. As for growth, it isn’t evil.

*It’s growth that leads to community sustainability,” Mayor Robert Crowell said recently. “I’m pro-growth. As soon as you start to stagnate, the cost of services goes up.”

This mayor, whose father opposed the bypass in the 1960s, long since figured out the bypass was inevitable and Carson Street would no longer be the U.S. 395 corridor. The state already has given Carson Street to city government. That’s part of the reason he ran for mayor in 2008 and for re-election in 2012. He figures that over a half century, change is unavoidable. You ride herd on it or it rides herd on you. Downtown grows or dies.

You can make it beautiful or ugly, but you must understand change is coming whether you prepare for it or not. Carson City prepared. Beauty or ugliness will be in the eye of us beholders.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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