Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell delivered his final State of the City address Friday, recapping his 11 years at the city’s helm.
“I took office on Jan. 5, 2009, just at the time the great recession was starting to kick into high gear,” Crowell told the audience of 130 at the Gold Dust West luncheon hosted by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.
In 2010, unemployment in Carson City hit 14 percent, compared to 3.4 percent last year.
“The downtown area started to look bleak with the many closures. Some people told me they saw tumbleweeds rolling down Carson Street,” said Crowell.
The city employee count dropped 12 percent to 559 workers and the Board of Supervisors requested $10 million in budget cuts.
At the same time, tragedy struck.
“I should also mention that it was during this period of time, namely Sept. 6, 2011, that our community suffered the mass shooting of three Guardsmen and one civilian by a crazed gunman at our IHOP restaurant, an event that bought national media to our city and shook our community to its core,” said Crowell.
Once the economy turned a corner, so did Carson City. Major infrastructure projects commenced, including the $30 million-plus rehab at the Water Resource Recovery Facility, which should be completed next month; the $32 million water pipeline from Minden to the Quill Water Treatment plant; and the South Carson Street project, funded in part by a $7.5 million federal grant, that breaks ground in February.
Crowell talked about other projects completed during his tenure, including the new animal shelter and the Multi-purpose Athletic Center, as well as updates to existing facilities such as renovations at the Bob Boldrick Theater with the help of the Chamber.
The mayor also mentioned the accomplishments of others in the community, including bus shelters built by the Rotary Club, trails constructed by Muscle Powered, a new public park installed at Schulz Ranch, and the Carson Ridge Disc Golf Park on city property and built by volunteers.
And Crowell outlined what he sees as challenges ahead for Carson City.
“Affordable housing will continue to be a critical issue in the development of our community,” he said.
Homelessness, too, is a challenge.
“Our churches do a great job providing sleeping quarters during the night but that can’t last forever. We need to find a way to address this problem on a long term basis,” he said.
Road maintenance, which is underfunded by the gas taxes that pay for it, is an ongoing issue, said Crowell.
And the city needs to prepare for the next, inevitable economic downturn.
“My sense is that our community is well positioned to weather through at least a mild recession, but we must remain fiscally frugal to ensure that we have sufficient financial reserves,” he said.
Crowell said that between his years as mayor and before that on the School Board he has served 23 years for the city he grew up in, and choked up at the end.
“Thank you again for the honor and opportunity to serve as your mayor. May our community always be blessed with fair winds and following seas.”
The mayor received a standing ovation at the end and then was presented with Carson Proud metalwork art by Robert St. Clair on behalf of the Chamber.