Doreen Mack: Time to bring business back to downtown
By Doreen Mack
I am continually amazed at people’s negativity when it comes to change. There is nothing so permanent, except for death that it cannot be changed, and even death changes everyone around you.
Carson City was rated No. 1 in the nation for being hardest hit by the recession. With the freeway already bypassing the downtown corridor, we have lost a lot of traffic. Once the freeway is completed it will remove a lot more, and for most of existing downtown businesses that are struggling, they will be gone, creating a virtual ghost town.
How do we climb out of this hole, raise our property values, create jobs and keep Carson City safe?
When was the last time you went shopping downtown? Exactly.
The Downtown Parking Plan is one way to salvage a city that has been deteriorating for years. We are the capital of Nevada, home of the Legislature, a wonderful museum, a tremendous amount of history and a college town. I took a plan developed four years ago for $12 million and, with the help of the city planner and engineers, reduced it to $150,000. It is not as elaborate as the first plan, but it is a beginning.
I am third-generation Carson resident. We used to have a vital downtown. Daily, as I would walk to school, merchants would be cleaning their sidewalks. You were on a first-name basis with the merchants; they made you feel safe in a community that felt like one. We had a downtown grocery store, a drug store, ice cream parlor, bank, boutique shops, restaurants and all those elements that made us a downtown.
In the ’60s, the median was installed as part of the Johnson Administration Beautification Project. The reality: it removed parking and we began to lose our town, one by one. It virtually died out. Now as a four-lane major highway the fence was put up to protect us from trucks. That was the nail in the coffin. Malls came in and big box stores.
Local businesses that were left could not survive. The last one to hang on was “Lad Furlong” of Meyer’s Hardware, on the corner of Musser and Main Street; where the Secretary of State now resides. Mr. Furlong told me before he closed: “with no parking and a fence there was no draw to come downtown.”
We need foot traffic, boutique and gift shops. Parking is essential for creating a synergy that visually says there is something to stop and do. All of these elements support one another and walking traffic is essential to make this work. A fence says, “stay out” and without having direct access to shops, no one is going to open a downtown business. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to create jobs and that in itself is a boost to our economy.
Virginia City and Truckee would not exist if you took parking off of Main Street and put up a fence. What would be the attraction?
Think about this. A successful and flourishing downtown affects every one of us. Financially, it directly hits our pocket books by raising our property values. We need to make Carson City a safe and desirable place to live. Every successful city started with a strong downtown core, be supportive of this plan.
For those of you who want to avoid the downtown core, your options are Stewart, Roop, Curry, Nevada and Division streets.
Go to: http://www.carson.org/parkingplan to see the proposed plan for Carson City. See what other communities have done, this one is rated one of the top cities in America to live. It is similar to what we want to create and they are also a college town. View their website at: http://www.downtownmorgantown.com.
• Doreen Mack is the owner of Lofty Expressions in Carson City.