Carson City panels endorse 90 percent downtown design

Carson City’s 90 percent downtown makeover project design got the blessing of all but one member of two advisory panels Tuesday, but she is a city supervisor.

The Regional Transportation Commission, headed by Supervisor Brad Bonkowski, voted unanimously to approve the nearly done design. But the separate Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee vote tally during a joint meeting was 6-1 to recommend it to the Board of Supervisors, with committee member and Supervisor Lori Bagwell dissenting. Afterward, she cited parking and traffic concerns.

Three people testified after a presentation, which included a timeline and funding.

Those testifying were Gil Yanuck, retired industrialist and a past top Chamber of Commerce official; Jed Block, downtown resident and businessman, and Elinor Bugli, retired state employee and long term performing arts and culture advocate.

“Where’s the payback,” Yanuck asked.

He praised the presentation and liked the infrastructure, but wondered about business buy-in and whether taxpayers would benefit. “Where’s the payback? I see half the equation.”

Block and Bugli were upbeat. The former said, “For someone who lives, works and plays downtown, I think this is awesome.“ Bugli said Mile High Jazz performances and other events bring people into the downtown and more would come with more events.

She had just one suggestion: the planned 25 foot by 25 foot stage on a downtown plaza be made a bit larger.

The 90 percent design presentation by Danny Rotter, project manager with the Public Works Department, didn’t differ markedly from the 60 percent design.

Members of both panels, however, had both questions and suggestions, including about the plaza stage, safety factors for entering or leaving the plaza at Carson and 3rd streets, and various appearance issues.

The design is going to be finalized for the city governing board before the end of 2015 and project work is anticipated to start in February or March. All five of the board members were in attendance. Mayor Robert Crowell is on the RTC, along with Bonkowski. Supervisors Karen Abowd and Jim Shirk were in the audience.

Most members on the two panels who spoke after the presentation praised it and some spoke of future prospects as the Carson Street and McFadden Plaza parts of the downtown project get done next autumn. For example, Craig Mullet of the redevelopment unit praised Jeanette Kelley, owner of the closed Horseshoe Club at North Carson and West Telegraph streets, for her plans to turn her three buildings there into a mixed use project for various tenants.

“I hope this is just the turning point,” said Mullet.

The Carson Street project funding available is up to $8.9 million, with nearly $7.4 million of it for construction; the plaza part has almost $714,000 available, part of it donated, with an engineering estimate of $620,000.

The downtown street project will reduce traffic lanes, add bike lanes, widen sidewalks and a few parking slots.

The plaza on the closed West 3rd Street envisions a stage and a water feature to attract people and for community events.


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