Bob Thomas: A visit from our mayor

Two weeks ago our Carson City men’s group received a visit from Mayor Bob Crowell at our weekly Grandma Hattie’s luncheon. We have a different speaker at every meeting. We invite people of interest no matter their gender or politics. Actually, instead of a prepared talk this was more of a question and answer session. To his credit, Mayor Bob didn’t duck any questions, but to say his curmudgeonly audience agreed with him might be an exaggeration.As you would expect, the subject of narrowing Carson Street from four lanes to two, with added curb parking on both sides, was discussed at length. The mayor was personally noncommittal but we got the feeling that he appears to favor the idea. However, he was specific in saying there are many considerations, especially funding. Interestingly, when my wife and I moved to “River City” 41 years ago, Carson Street had only two lanes of traffic with angle parking on both sides. In those days there was little parking in the rear of the stores so street parking was necessary. While building our house, I personally parked in front of Meyer’s Hardware regularly. If Meyer’s didn’t have it, you didn’t need it.Carson Street reminds me of a story: There was a man named Rodney, and Rodney was such a fine person in every way that God appeared to him one morning and said, “Rodney, you have been such a model citizen that I am going to grant you one wish, anything you want.” Rodney replied, “Wow, God, that sounds wonderful. Well as you know, I bought a little condo in Hawaii a few years ago and I can’t afford airline fare to visit it. Could you possibly build a 2,400-mile floating highway to Hawaii? Then I could drive there every year.”God answers, “Look, Rodney, can’t you come up with something a bit simpler? Good grief! Such a highway would require thousands of sea anchors, gas stations every 300 miles, restaurants and dozens of openings with swinging bridges to permit ships to pass through. Can’t you please think of something else you’d love to have?”Rodney then said, “Well sure, God, I can do that. As you know, I’m a bachelor and I’ve only dated girls a couple of times in my life and things just didn’t go well. I don’t seem to have empathy with women on a personal level, and I’d really love to find the right one and get married. Could you possibly give me the wisdom to understand women?” Following a long pause God answers, “Rodney, two lanes or four?”Anyway, I doubt that God is going to guide our city fathers and mother concerning the wisdom of returning Carson Street to two traffic lanes, but I’m sure our citizens will make their feelings known as they did with the City Center Project.Mayor Bob also expressed his vision for Carson City as being a “destination” city rather than a pass through. I personally can’t imagine anything we could possibly do to make his dream come true. With Tahoe’s attractions on our west and Reno’s on our north, what’s left for us that’s different? One thing I do know: The arty-intellectual community will never come up with anything that will make us a destination city. Remaking our downtown into a cute little re-creation of Solvang or Pebble Beach for tourist shopping isn’t going to cut it.However, the V&T can be our best tourist draw if the day ever comes when it will join Highway 50 at Deer Run Road and continue down the center of the highway all the way to Mills Park before heading back to Virginia City, stopping to disembark and pick up new passengers for the return trip. Now that would be a real attraction.One quick word about my own vision for Carson City: Carson City should make its own investment to actively recruit new manufacturers for our industrial airpark which, with our airport, is the best. This would bring stable and lasting prosperity to our community as opposed to the ups and downs of tourism. • Bob Thomas is a retired high-tech industrialist who later served on the Carson City School Board, the state welfare board, the airport authority and as a state assemblyman. His website is


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