Scene In Passing: Experience the dialogue and destination

Las Vegas is the last commercial enclave on Earth to cite as a role model for much but glam, glitz and greed.

Often mislabeled Disneyland for adults, the mecca for numerically-challenged gamblers isn’t an apple to Carson City’s orange. It’s a pineapple in a party hat.

Yet the Fremont Street Experience in Vegas actually is worth citing, though not necessarily positively or negatively, in the context of Carson City’s continuing ruminations regarding what to do downtown.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, however, so what happens in the state’s capital city must of necessity be different.

For those who avoid Vegas like a cancerous tumor, the Fremont Street Experience refers a pedestrian mall in the tumor’s gut. It occupies the five westernmost blocks of Fremont Street, including historic “Glitter Gulch,” plus portions of some adjacent streets.

An attraction is a barrel vault canopy 90 feet up at the peak and four blocks in length. Concerts, often free, are held there. The Neon Museum also is an attraction. Tourists flock to it, but even in hard times there are usually more than a few tourists in Vegas. The orange called Carson City doesn’t seem ripe for such shenanigans.

But closure of streets is worth ratcheting into the Carson City dialogue — nay, debate — already under way regarding what to do downtown now that Carson Street is a city street rather than a state highway. Some people already have touched on the topic.

Ronni Hannaman, Chamber of Commerce director, has talked of closing Third Street from Carson to Curry streets to encourage downtown activity.

Last January, Tom Keeton told city policy-makers if they want a pedestrian-friendly downtown to close Carson Street there. Saying he is a driver not a walker, he opposed it. But he brought up the issue. Keeton formerly chaired Carson City’s Parks and Recreation Committee.

More recently, Sean Lehmann, the same panel’s current chair, also brought it up and sounded more interested. He questioned leaders of the Downtown 20/20 organization who want a pedestrian-friendly downtown. That group’s leaders didn’t jump at the idea, though one called it bold.

The latest Downtown 20/20 plan advocates walkers first and vehicles last in transportation decison-making, but Lehmann’s “bold” idea wasn’t in evidence.

No opinion is appropriate here, save one. Serious, civil and full dialogue is desirable. What does Carson City want to be when it grows up? Like any living entity, this city must grow or atrophy.

What will be the Carson Street Experience?

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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