A recent phone survey shows Carson City residents are comfortable downtown, want more events and aren't concerned about finding parking.
The $10,000 survey of 400 Carson City residents, conducted in April, showed 77 percent reported visiting downtown nine times or more a year.
What draws them there?
Dinner and big events like Nevada Day and Taste of Downtown.
"We did it to get a picture of what the overall community thinks of downtown ... rather than us sitting around giving our own ideas and opinions," said Supervisor Robin Williamson, chairwoman of the Redevelopment Authority.
Williamson said she was surprised that 93 percent of those polled said they used a car to get downtown, but the survey said the city should focus first on restoring historic buildings rather than improving parking, their second choice, and then provide better entertainment and events.
Williamson said with such a response, the city's redevelopment citizen's committee may have to rethink its plans to build a three-story, $3 million parking garage downtown, a project for which it has set aside about $1 million.
Dan Mooney, who helped the city with its recent "vision" document and wrote the survey, said the citizen's committee wanted to do the survey in part to gauge community feelings on issues like parking and whether people are afraid to go downtown.
"They don't walk downtown, so there must be parking somewhere for them," said Mooney, also president of Western Management Associates. "Only 10 percent said parking was a deterrent. It doesn't necessarily mean we don't need more parking, just under the current circumstances, it isn't a deterrent."
As for safety, 87 percent of respondents said they feel safe walking around downtown.
Williamson said considering most people, 62 percent, said they go downtown for dinner, downtown businesses might consider staying open in the evening hours to attract shoppers, 35 percent of which are downtown in the evening.
Shopping was listed at 51 percent as the second most popular reason to go downtown, and 51 percent also noted they thought the shopping opportunities downtown had increased.
Respondents also noted, at 29 percent, that Native Americans had a significant role in Carson City's cultural heritage followed by Caucasians/Europeans, 18.6 percent, and the Chinese at 12.5 percent. Considering that, Williamson said perhaps redevelopment officials should consider more events focusing on the city's cultural heritage.
"Most people go to enjoy downtown, they feel safe, they like what's being done as far as restoring buildings and events," Williamson said. "They just want more attractions, more restaurants. We're on the right track."
The survey is statistically sound and indicates that 95 percent of Carson City residents agree with the findings, Mooney said.
Williamson and Mooney said the information gathered will be used to help develop a marketing plan for downtown.