The stretch of Center Street from the Truckee River to the University of Nevada, Reno will soon be renamed University Way. The measure, reported by This Is Reno in June, received mixed support by the public but was approved by the Reno City Council at its Wednesday meeting.
Council member Jenny Brekhus voted against the change.
UNR President Brian Sandoval said he recognized “there are some sensitivities to this.”
The street was temporarily changed from Center Street to University Avenue in years past.
“From 1921 to 1957 that portion of Center Street was University Avenue,” Sandoval said.
The Reno City Council in 1957 reversed course and named it back to Center Street. Sandoval said he was unable to find an explanation as to why it was changed back.
Sandoval said the change back is about preserving, acknowledging and making new history. Developing student pride and connecting to downtown were also reasons for the change.
“We feel on campus that this would be a symbolic way to really join and have that bridge between the City of Reno and the University of Nevada, Reno,” he said.
Records show the name change was advanced last spring. Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and the Downtown Reno Partnership drafted letters in support of the change in April.
“It honestly was an idea that several people had mentioned for a few years in circles,” Schieve told This is Reno. “I was in a meeting with a few people and Sandoval about university issues and infrastructure for students and someone mentioned it. Not sure exactly where it originated. It seemed like many people were talking about it. I was supportive for many reasons.”
Half who submitted public comments about the change opposed it.
Greg Erny, a member of the city’s Historic Resources Commission, was critical of the process by which the name change occurred.
“My concern is not so much the merits of naming or renaming Center Street–it’s regarding the process by which it’s being handled,” he said. “Your [Historic Resources] Commission has spent a lot of time discussing how and if historic resources–i.e., parks, buildings and streets–might be named or renamed, and here we are today it looks like potentially having that be decided without ever having a chance for the commission to hear it and/or weigh into it.”
He suggested a six month period for more public input. The city, however, waived the waiting period on the name change.
Schieve said she was perplexed by those critical of the name change.
“I honestly thought the historians would really like the idea,” she said.
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 in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.