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Placemaking, micromobility, and you (commentary)


By Alicia Barber

In the last two weeks, the City has held public engagement sessions for two initiatives that I’ve been following in the Brief for more than a year: the Virginia Street Placemaking Study and the Micromobility Pilot Project. Both are coming to a close, with presentations to City Council coming up after a final round of public input. I attended both sessions—Placemaking in person on February 23, and Micromobility (via Zoom) on March 9. Each ended with an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on what they saw, and the online survey for the Placemaking Study closes on Sunday, March 12 at 5pm while public comments about the latest Micromobility Pilot Project update are being accepted through March 24.

There was a lot to absorb at both sessions, and I’m honestly still trying to sort through what they mean, how they relate to each other, and what their implications are for Virginia Street and the rest of downtown. So for now I’ll just explain where things stand and how you can contribute your thoughts, and I’m sure I’ll be circling back when each is scheduled for any action at City Council. Let’s start with the Placemaking Study, since Sunday (March 12) is the last day to submit feedback before the consultants formulate their final recommendations.

What would bring you to downtown Virginia Street?

As I previewed in my last Brief, the Gehl team was here on February 23 to present a number of design and programming concepts based on public input regarding the last round of “Vision and Goals” for downtown Virginia Street. They then opened up a survey intended to solicit rankings of these concepts from residents.

We learned that participation in Gehl’s second survey was much reduced from the first one. The first, asking residents to help them assess and define the current condition of Virginia Street, garnered more than 2,700 responses. The November survey asking residents for input on a number of broader concepts only garnered 481 responses online and 25 more in person. That input (plus stakeholder sessions and the team’s continued analysis) is what shaped the concepts just presented.

This final survey, open through March 12, asks residents to rank a series of specific concepts in order of preference. Mike Van Houten of Downtown Makeover has summarized how Gehl broke down the various ideas in his helpful piece called “GEHL Presents Recommendations to Public for Virginia Street Downtown,” and I highly encourage you to read through it and the entire PDF version of Gehl’s presentationbefore taking the survey. The PDF, video, and survey link are all on the City’s Placemaking web page here. The concepts as described in the survey are not self-explanatory, and even watching the presentation live it wasn’t possible to read everything on the slides that were shown in quick succession.  

Read the rest at the Barber Brief.

The Barber Brief is an independent e-newsletter and blog written by Dr. Alicia Barber on the Substack platform. It is reposted by This Is Reno with her permission.

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