Forge ahead in downtown Carson

Just do it. Yes, we know some shoe company already claims that slogan, but it ought to be the motto for Carson City's downtown redevelopment efforts.

It was clearly the message last week when people packed a Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee meeting to offer a raft of good ideas - all of them aimed at making downtown vital without trampling its historic roots.

And redevelopment leaders like Robin Williamson and Joe McCarthy got the message. They may start small, but they're just as eager to get started.

The best ideas we heard:

n Allowing a freer mix of commercial and residential.

Downtown needs people during all hours of the day and night to bring it to life, boost commerce and keep it safe. The mix on the near west side already tends to be businesses occupying historic houses. There's not much in the way of zoning logic to keep businesses and residences separate.

n Maintaining the historic character.

Doing anything less would sacrifice downtown's long-term success in favor of short-term infusions. We can't see anybody arguing against historic preservation in the abstract, but the specifics are where the battles are fought. The city is doing a good job now, and it's no time to back off.

n Making downtown pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

We'd like to say it isn't bad now - if you're already on the west side of Carson Street and have no intention of going far.

Obviously, the freeway will help in a few years. But people have to be able to get to downtown easily by bicycle, especially from the east side, so the city should create more dedicated paths. It doesn't seem too complicated to work with the state to wind bicycle routes through public properties, with downtown shops and office buildings as the destinations.

n More parking.

Frankly, we seldom have a hard time parking in downtown Carson City, with the possible exception of when the Legislature is in town. Even on Nevada Day, with 20,000 or more lining the parade route, spaces could be found within two blocks of Carson Street.

Nevertheless, if redevelopment is to be successful, a strategically located parking garage is going to be needed on the west side. It's key not only to big events, but also as access points for pedestrian circulation.

Forge ahead, Carson City. People are starting to get excited about what downtown can become.


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