By Kylie Rowe | @KyRoBiz
Kylie Rowe is the Vice President of Corporate Relocation at Dickson Realty, an ambassador for Reno, Sparks and Lake Tahoe.
Charlene Bybee, a long-time Sparks resident and flight attendant for American Airlines, is the city councilwoman serving Ward 4 in the City of Sparks. With seniority status with American Airlines, Bybee can pick and choose her schedule. In an average month, she spends six days flying on routes to China, Hong Kong, and Australia and spends the rest of her days meeting the needs of the residents of Sparks.
Bybee grew up in Sparks, graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, raised two boys in Sparks, and has been married to the same man 37 years. She’s followed the changes over the years and understands how schools, sports, and activities have grown.
She said, “People are Sparks proud … whether they are here 5 years or 50 years … they feel like they have deep roots when they live in Sparks.”
The City of Sparks recently conducted a survey that collected information about what people like in Sparks, what can be improved upon and where residents see Sparks in the future. The number one response reported in the Ignite Sparks survey was how much people enjoy the sense of community. Residents love the small-town community feel and that makes it important for the City of Sparks and council to remain cognizant of managed growth.
As the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency (TMRPA) board chairwoman, Bybee pays close attention to the speed of growth, critical factors, and focus areas. The TMRPA conducted a housing study and found that the demand is shifting from single family homes to apartments. This is true for both millennials and empty nesters. An apartment is often preferable for employees that work in the Tahoe Regional Industrial Center (a 14-minute drive from Sparks City Hall) and the City of Sparks is expecting a significant number of new apartments now and in the years to come.
People don’t realize that that median home price in Sparks is $30,000 less than Reno ($305,000 versus $335,000, respectively). It’s more affordable to live in Sparks and there are a variety of new home developments available today, including Ventana, a modern development by Ryder Homes. Even more exciting is the recent announcement that Silverwing Development plans to revitalize Victorian Square into a walkable master-planned community in the next five to seven years. The community will include 60,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and more than 1,500 housing units.
The impact of growth brings on a number of concerns, one of them being traffic. Charlene Bybee discussed that long-time residents find more traffic on the roads a challenge. However, new people moving into the area view the commute as a bonus because it’s nothing like the traffic in certain areas outside of the region. The good news is that the Southeast Connector will open at the end of 2017. The whole East side of the valley to Veterans Parkway will be connected and the truck traffic will be funneled through that route. For those heading to Carson City, Lake Tahoe, or South Reno, it will save significant travel time.
With time saved on the roads and new development coming to Sparks, it opens up the opportunity to enjoy the culture and lifestyle. Some of the best events in Northern Nevada happen in Victorian Square. Favorites among many are the Nugget Rib Cook-off, Hot August Nights, and the Hometowne Christmas Parade. People are looking for a vibrant downtown and Victorian Square is on the verge of growing and changing to become that. Charlene Bybee is interested in drawing businesses to downtown Sparks, and eventually it will be live, work, play.