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City council moves forward with Mayors Park, stormwater utility rates and arts grants

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Reno City Council this week approved millions in additional funding to complete the proposed Mayors Park upgrades, adopted a resolution supporting a new affordable housing project and approved arts and culture funding.

 Phase 3 of improvements to Mayors Park  will cost up to $1.3 million plus an additional  $1.84 million to Powerhouse Construction to complete construction of the park.

Initial funding for the park was approved at just over $1.26 million, with $1.1 million coming from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and $150,000 from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

However, the new final cost for the park is estimated at nearly $2.6 million – a difference of $1.3 million.

Council approved the new funding to be taken from the Residential Construction Tax District 1 fund to meet the difference. 

Council member Jenny Brekhus asked if additional shade could be added to the playground.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Brekhus said. 

Council member Naomi Duerr agreed and said that the rubber material used at current playgrounds throughout the city gets very hot during the summer. She asked that trees be planted as close to the playground as possible to provide shade. 

“That should be done as part of the project without question,” Duerr said. “It’s only getting hotter, not cooler. We have to figure it out as part of the whole playground package.” 

The project includes installation of an ADA inclusive play structure, a new recreational field with installed lighting, fencing and irrigation upgrades. 

Council approved both the additional funding and the construction contract. 

Lift station rehabilitation moves forward 

The North Dakota and Dermody Sanitary Sewer Lift Station Project will shortly be underway after the council approved a contract with Lumos and Associates for engineering services. 

The project involves the replacement of the two sewer lift stations due to age and deterioration. Lift stations are necessary to move wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher elevation, allowing the flow of wastewater to the treatment plant. 

The consultant agreement with Lumos and Associates was approved for up to $323,039, to be paid from the Sewer Fund. 

Council supports affordable housing in northwest Reno

Council members adopted a resolution in support of Altitude by Vintage, an affordable housing complex along Sky Valley Drive in a Ward 1 neighborhood off West Fourth Street. The development includes nearly 300 units across three existing multi-family housing units known as Southridge, Skyline and Skyview. 

“I think it’s important for every ward to have affordable housing,” said Mayor Hillary Schieve. “I think it needs to be equitable and fair.” 

The units will be combined into a single complex, rehabilitated for rent, and will offer rents between 30% and 60% of the area median income (AMI).

The Nevada Department of Business and Industry will issue the bonds for the project. 

Stormwater utility rate considered

Council heard a presentation regarding a proposed stormwater utility rate change. 

Council directed staff to use a $13.46 per equivalent residential unit (ERU) rate to create a draft Ordinance and Business Impact Statement. 

According to the agenda, an ERU is the average “impervious” area such as driveways and sidewalks of a typical single-family residential property. 

The final rate was not decided upon, but rather, the $13.46 rate is used as a stand-in so the city can begin the BIS noticing process which will be sent to Reno businesses after the first of the year. 

“A Stormwater Utility fee would provide a dedicated funding source for such things as cleaning and maintenance of storm drains and culverts and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure,” the item summary reads. 

The fee, if ultimately approved by Council, would apply to both homeowners and business owners. 

Arts and culture grants awarded

Council approved 12 event grants totalling nearly $60,000 for arts and culture events during 2023. They include:

  • $5,005 to Artown
  • $4,186 to Arts for All Nevada
  • $5,249 to The Board of Regents, Nevada System of Higher Education on behalf of the University of Nevada, Reno Latino Research Center
  • $5,005 to Good Luck Macbeth
  • $5,075 to High Desert Harmony Chorus
  • $5,600 to The Holland Project
  • $1,931 to Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival
  • $5,110 to Latino Arte and Culture
  • $5,793 to Nevada Humanities
  • $4,953 to Northern Nevada Bluegrass Association
  • $5,460 to Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts 
  • $5,040 to Reno Jazz Orchestra

Council also approved more than $76,000 for 14 project grants for arts and culture projects for 2023. They include::  

  • $5,093 to A.V.A. Ballet Theatre
  • $5,513 to Arts for All Nevada
  • $5,740 to The Holland Project
  • $5,250 to Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival
  • $5,390 to Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus
  • $4,970 to Northern Nevada Rural Concert Initiative
  • $5,600 to Note­Able Music Therapy Services
  • $5,723 to Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts
  • $5,898 to Reno Bike Project on behalf of KWNK Community Radio
  • $5,635 to Reno Chamber Orchestra
  • $5,320 to Reno Jazz Orchestra
  • $5,425 to Reno Little Theater
  • $5,320 to Reno Philharmonic Association
  • $5,390 to Sierra Nevada Ballet

Lastly, council approved six “Art Belongs Here” neighborhood public art grants to create public art projects in neighborhoods, parks and public right of way areas, which will be dispersed as follows: 

  • $12,000 to Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation
  • $12,000 to Be the Change Project
  • $12,000 to the Downtown Reno Partnership with Nevada Neon Project
  • $3,521 to Custom Ink
  • $10,992 to The Holland Project
  • $7,328 to Friends of Lake Park

Zoning amendments 

In relation to the Panther Valley Flex Park, council approved a Master Plan amendment of land use zoning from suburban mixed use to industrial, as well as a zoning map amendment from general commercial to industrial commercial.

The 4.41-acre property currently consists of three parcels and is located north of the intersection of Panther Drive and U.S. Highway 395. 

While council approved the amendment of the Master Plan, the adoption of the resolution is contingent upon a conformance review by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency. 

Council upheld the recommendation of the Planning Commission to amend the Highland Zoning Map, changing an area of Planned Unit Development (112 acres total) to MultiFamily Residential 14 (44.39 acres); Parks, Greenways and Open Space (44.39 acres); MultiFamily Residential 30 (16.17 acres) and General Commercial (GC). 

The property site is located near Lemmon Drive, Sky Vista Parkway and Vista Knoll Parkway. 

Council approved an ordinance introduction which would amend the Sierra Senior Care Planned Unit Development zoning district to allow for 96 multi-family units on 3.26 acres of the development which are currently vacant. The property is located near Beck Street and Mountain View Drive. 

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Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose is a proud Native Nevadan whose work in journalism and publishing can be found throughout the Sierra region. She received degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. She is an avid supporter of high desert agriculture and rescue dogs.

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