Carson City’s Board of Supervisors on Thursday gave a green light to two-lane traffic and parallel parking downtown on Carson Street. The board voted 4-0 for a motion directing staff to solidify plans for micro-paving and re-striping the street, as well as finding financing, with prospects for action this summer. Wrought-iron fences along Carson Street downtown sidewalks would come down. “This is something that we’ve been talking about for years,” said Supervisor Shelly Aldean. “I think it’s a worthwhile investment.”The investment estimate is $150,000 or a bit more, but staff said micro-paving costs were included in that and such work must be done sooner or later as maintenance. Projections for completion were two years at most.Board members, some of whom talked about making the downtown pedestrian-friendly, heard a staff presentation and also took lengthy testimony from opposing sides before voting. “I think this is a great revenue generator,” said Michael Robbins, owner of Hanifan’s Arts & Antiques downtown, which opens onto Carson Street and also onto Curry Street a block west.Doreen Mack, who had a downtown business but now operates Lofty Expressions interior decor from her home, said a pedestrian-friendly environment with parking and fence removal will help shops recover.About three-quarters of those testifying favored the concept, but a trio opposed it vociferously and a couple of other speakers seemed neutral or divided over differing aspects.Among those on the fence, so to speak, was Stan Jones of The Purple Avocado, who was testifying on behalf of the Downtown Business Association. He said association members favor anything that will help downtown, adding removal of the iron fences might do that.But regarding the proposed parallel parking, Jones added, “We do have some very specific concerns about downtown parking.”Opposed were Don Thayer, former restaurant operator of Heidi’s and City Cafe Bakery who still owns property on Carson; Maurice White, retired but doing metal fabrication work, and Tom Keeton, also retired. Thayer said cutting Carson from four lanes to two won’t handle 20,000 or more vehicles daily. He added he likes two lanes in college towns with wider streets, but that won’t work for Carson City.White said other plans have suggested a delay in narrowing lanes on Carson Street until a freeway bypass is completed and Roop Street, a few blocks east and running parallel to Carson Street, is widened to four lanes. Without such a delay, he predicted back-ups for blocks on Carson and gridlock at busy intersections.Keeton said if supervisors want a pedestrian-friendly downtown, they should do one thing: “Close Carson Street.” But he said he and most people these days are drivers, not walkers.“If I were going to vote on this project,” he said, “I’d vote no.” But four board members, with Supervisor Karen Abowd absent, voted yes, so opponents’ hopes shift to a new board with two new members. Supervisors-elect Brad Bonkowski and Jim Shirk will be sworn in Monday, replacing Aldean and Molly Walt. Mayor Robert Crowell, who also gets sworn in to start his second term on Monday, said he views the prospective project as an experiment that he hopes will benefit downtown. Throughout the meeting, he asked people how they felt about a pedestrian-friendly downtown.In other Thursday action, the board voted without dissent to continue allowing temporary business signs and banners rather than reviving pre-2009 time limits. It also approved rezoning of various land parcels.Most of the parcels were open space program purchases or transfers, which were re-zoned public community or conservation reserve.But some smaller plots near and just west of the new bypass freeway, both north and south of Arrowhead Drive, were rezoned from single-family one-acre residential lots to retail/commercial.Those properties currently are owned by the Nevada Department of Transportation.
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