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Downtown business improvement district sees revenue increase

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Revenues are up for downtown Reno’s Business Improvement District. Reno City Council members on Wednesday heard a presentation regarding the Downtown Reno Partnership’s Business Improvement District (BID) operating plan, and they approved an increase in the program’s assessment budget from $3 million to $3.68 million. 

The presentation was given by Assistant City Manager Eric Edelstein, who said the creation of the BID and the Downtown Reno Partnership five years ago has improved the downtown area significantly. 

“Before the BID was created, there were major cleanliness issues downtown,” Edelstein said. “Reno police were inundated with nuisance related calls, developers were hesitant to come downtown, [and] homeless individuals were not strongly tended to for help or given referrals for services.”

According to Edlstein, following the creation of the BID, emergency service calls decreased as the BID-supported ambassadors stepped in. Unsheltered homelessness has been reduced by 42% following the opening of the Nevada CARES Campus, he said. 

The presentation went over ambassador statistics, which highlighted ways the downtown has benefited from the program, including the removal of 14,400 pounds of trash, giving directions 5,200 times to visitors, making 4,000 referrals to services, conducting 2,000 wellness checks, and checking in on properties more than 56,000 times. 

Following the presentation, the council voted to approve the change in assessed budget. This is not to be confused with the program’s operating budget, but rather the revenue the program has collected through property assessments. 

First Congregational Church applies for zoning change

The First Congregational Church of Reno applied for the approval of a zoning map change, which would allow for a Montessori preschool on its premises. 

The church has been located on the Sunnyside Drive property in old northwest Reno since 1959, and in 2022 was approved for a conditional use permit for a preschool. 

Other areas within the surrounding area have also been converted to PF zoning, including religious assemblies, childcare facilities and schools. 

According to Rick Odinsky on behalf of the church, the church was originally located on the corner of Fifth and Virginia streets, but was forced to move locations due to eminent domain. It has remained at the current location since 1959. 

“We moved there because it was the outskirts of Reno in 1958,”  Odinksy said. “Most of the houses were developed long after we moved there.” 

Odinksy said that over the course of the church’s life, there have been numerous childcare facilities on site, ranging from co-op preschools to Montessori schools. 

However, because a daycare did not operate on the premises for over a year, the church lost a “grandfathered in” permit that allowed the childcare facility to operate. 

The Children’s Cabinet approved a grant to fund the school, but it depends upon receiving the zoning change from the council before the grant can be dispersed. 

“The reason Children’s Cabinet is funding this is because there is nowhere else to go,” Montessori teacher Tamra Hopkins said. 

Some nearby residents took issue with the proposed zoning change, not necessarily because of the school, but what the zoning could allow for in its place if the church ever moved. 

However, Odinsky said there were no plans to move the church. 

“In 150 years, we’ve moved twice, and not by choice,” Odinsky said. 

After over an hour of discussions, the item was continued. 

Activation Coordinator approved

Council members voted to approve the creation of an Activation Coordinator position to assist in “activating” city owned spaces and lead operations of city hosted events.

Compensation for the position will be funded through the Room Tax Fund in the amount of $150,000. 

Council member Jenny Brekhus said she was against the position for a number of reasons, including creating a position outside of the budgeting process.

Brekhus later said that special events are “pulling [police] patrols” from the streets in order to staff events.

“This isn’t all about fun,” Brekhus said. 

Brekhus said the previous chief of police told her that special events left police unable to respond to burglaries and crashes among other issues. 

“That’s why I think this body really needs to keep an eye on it,” Brekhus said. 

“I’ve never seen a police presence at the Mother’s Day Farmer’s Market,” Reese said. “Creating boogeypeople when there are none is not helpful. I will trust our police folks will continue to keep us safe.” 

Mayor Hillary Schieve said it is the city’s responsibility to support special events, especially because they are important to the public.  

“We are known for special events,” Schieve said. “Special events create a sense of community. That’s one of the reasons we attract a lot of tourism to Reno. It’s important for us to support [special events].” 

Brekhus voted against the coordinator position. 

Talus Street and sewer rehabilitation project

A contract for $11.5 million was awarded to Spanish Springs Construction for the 2023 Talus Street and Sewer Rehabilitation Project. 

Eight neighborhood streets are included in the project, located in the northwest Reno area, west of North Virginia Street and north of North McCarran Boulevard. 

The project includes the replacement of pavement, curb, gutters, sidewalks, driveways, pedestrian ramps and sewer, and storm drain upgrades. 

From the total budget, $3.3 million will go toward utility improvements, $3.4 million to concrete improvements, and $4.1 million to roadway improvements. 

Council approved the contract unanimously. 

The project will take place from spring to fall 2023. 

Southwest Reno road maintenance 

Council approved a $3.2 million contract with Nevada Construction, Inc. for preventative road maintenance primarily in southwest Reno. 

The contract will provide annual maintenance, including surface treatment along 31 miles of roadway.

“I think it’s incredibly important, especially given the winter that we just had and the amount of damage and impacts our roads have experienced — these are some of our oldest roads,” Duerr said. “I think it’s good to highlight it because we’ve gotten a lot of public comment about the condition of our roads […] It’s good for the public to know we’re on it.” 

Other items

– Council accepted a report regarding the purchase of emergency Gabion Flood Baskets in the amount of $181,000. The “baskets” resemble fencing that can stop and contain or redirect flood water. 

“It’s important we are prepared for [flooding],” Maintenance Manager Travis Truhill said. 

The project is funded through the sewer fund and did not require council approval to purchase.

– Council members donated council discretionary funds as follows:

  • Councilmember Meghan Ebert: $1,000 to Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Services; $1,000 to the Truckee Meadows Community College Foundation 
  • Councilmember Miguel Martinez: $1,000 to Black Wall Street; $2,000 to the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation; $3,000 to the Eddy House; $1,000 to Urban Roots; $2,000 to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada;
  • Councilmember Kathleen Taylor: $2,000 to the Truckee Meadows Community College Foundation 
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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