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Eugene Paslov: City Center can lead the way out of stagnation

Dr. Eugene T. Paslov

I attended the citizen’s advisory committee meeting on Nov. 22. It was standing room only. The purpose of the meeting was to hear a discussion from P3, the firm selected to do the analysis, to determine the “feasibility” of the City Center development project. If feasible, the advisory committee would then make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for the next step of the city’s planning.

There were several discordant notes sounded throughout the meeting. During the initial public comment session, one fellow felt we should fill up the current vacant buildings in the city before embarking on new construction. The more important issue, however, is why the buildings are vacant in the first place, and what we are doing to prevent another vacancy meltdown.

Another commentator held up his Kindle electronic reader and declared that this is “all the library” one needs. I wanted to remind him that the great libraries of the past and of the present are, in reality, more than mere depositories for books. The great classical libraries of Ephesus and Alexandria, for example, held vast collections of documents. But, more importantly, they were centers of knowledge.

These centers were institutions of intellectual inquiry. They provided users with the tools to solve the most complex problems of the time. Without these ancient discovery centers there would be no Western Europe, no United States, and certainly no Carson City. I have no doubt a modern knowledge center will help provide solutions to many of the current problems facing our community.

One of the committee members took initial control of the meeting. He monopolized the first hour or so with questions. He asked his questions one by one. This is a common strategy when one wishes to derail a project. You suffocate the audience with questions – some answerable, some unanswerable, and some just silly – but present an endless array of questions to “etherize patients upon a table.” Not productive.

P3’s charge was to determine if the public/private partnership for the City Center project would work. It was a feasibility study, not a definitive plan analysis. What P3 looked at was best case, worst case scenarios. P3 declared it feasible. The advisory committee voted to send the feasibility study to the Board of Supervisors. There were just two no votes, out of 26 members.

This City Center project is critical to Carson City. We need to build a future for our children; we must stop the economic stagnation or parents and their children will leave, or not come at all.

We can be bold and careful. Let’s be both.

• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.