The Reno City Council on Wednesday approved a $150,000 study for the future of Virginia Street.
“Why another study? To get it right,” said Jeff Limpert, the city’s revitalization manager. “How do we make these desires more intentional? The idea is to provide the community and council with options for revitalizing Virginia Street.”
Limpert said the study will provide a more cohesive vision for downtown. The Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is paying half of the $150,000.
Critics of the study said a bike path for Center Street, already proposed, should proceed regardless of the study.
Council member Naomi Duerr questioned the need for the study, but also supported it.
“I would love to see a separated cycle area on Center,” she said. “What we’re talking about here is a placemaking study … I just don’t think these are exclusionary.
“We have had in my time here many, many studies,” Duerr added. “I’ve gone through several of them, and one of things we’ve been poorer on is in execution.”
She cited the ReTRAC lids, which after six years are starting to see projects on them.
“This is going to be a positive thing,” council member Neoma Jardon said. “This is an exciting opportunity for us.”
Center Street bike lane project questioned
Most public commenters spoke against the study, saying it had already been completed two years ago. But council members accused critics of being conspiratorial.
“It is not good if you have people gaslighting the process,” Mayor Hillary Schieve said. “I was so discouraged when there are people out there, quite frankly on this body, that are making it difficult and I think it was inaccurate information.”
Council member Neoma Jardon implicated fellow council member Jenny Brekhus.
Brekhus questioned the status of the Center Street cycle track, which has not been built.
“We took a vote to do the Center Street project,” Brekhus said. “It is in implementation. I heard before this item came to us that there was concern with that project and there was a desire to go on a focus to another street, but when [the city staff] report came forward, it was absolutely silent on Center Street.”
City engineer Kerrie Koske said the Center Street project, by RTC, is at “30% design” but that, as proposed, the bike lane would remove loading zones and 80 parking places.
“We have identified some issues with the project,” she said. “We’ve got choices to make.”
Jardon suggested RTC provide an update on the project. Brekhus said she wanted the update at the next city council meeting.
She was the lone vote against the study.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time research appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.