Update: RTC Board Comes Through

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Hopefully, a green light for improvements to Virginia Street.

I’m so pleased to update Tuesday’s post with the news that the RTC Board voted unanimously to deny the proposed design modification recommended by two RTC directors last week.

To recap, the modification would have had significant impacts on the wide sidewalks, street trees and outdoor seating that were central to the community’s acceptance of the agreed-upon design. More important, the modification would decrease pedestrian safety on the street (relative to the accepted plan) by the RTC directors’ own admission. The community raised a stink about the last-minute proposed change, and many local residents, business owners and property developers spoke out against it at today’s meeting. The property owners who had pushed for the design modification were also present and made their case, but ultimately the RTC Board chose to listen to the majority of constituents and reject the change. Hooray!

Credit where credit is due:

  • Ward 1 Councilmember Jenny Brekhus sent this letter to the RTC Executive Director highlighting the increased costs and decreased safety associated with the proposed modification and demanding an explanation. I don’t pretend to understand the ins and outs of city politics, but as a 3-year resident of Ward 1 I’ve consistently felt that Brekhus truly listens to her constituents and does what’s in her power to advocate for them. This is yet another example.
  • RTC Board Members Paul McKenzie and Neoma Jardon, both representing Reno, moved to deny the proposed modification, and the rest of the RTC Board unanimously agreed. Thank you for listening to your constituents.
  • RGJ City Life reporter Mike Higdon reported the story in the RGJ and live-tweeted Thursday’s meeting, which was helpful for those of us who couldn’t attend. He does his job well and I’m glad he’s on this beat.
  • Many individuals took time out of their day to attend the meeting, or if they couldn’t attend, to email or call their representatives. I don’t know how this vote would have gone without those actions, but I can’t imagine that they didn’t play a role in the outcome. If you attended or spoke out about this, thank you! (Even if you voiced an opinion that’s opposite to mine, thank you for doing it where the public can hear you.)

Until the trees are planted and the concrete is poured, I will be wary of the solidity of the plans for Virginia Street. However, weeks like this demonstrate that the community has a clear vision for this project and can get together to fight for it. Let’s stay on the alert for updates and keep holding public representatives accountable to their constituents. Let’s do what we can to show concerned developers that the agreed-upon plans will be an economic boon to their businesses, not a bane. Let’s keep working together to make sure this becomes the great street we need at the heart of our city.

Check out the RGJ’s coverage of the meeting and the decision here. Additionally, Addison’s analysis at Reno Rambler adds a great perspective and can be found here.

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