Opinion: Create a safe and healthy downtown for students, residents and visitors

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This opinion column was submitted by Neoma Jardon, who represents Ward 5 on the Reno City Council.

Most of our residents are probably unaware that the town of Reno has a Downtown action plan, which was passed by Reno City Council in 2017. After hearing public comment five years ago as part of ReImagine Reno’s master planning process, it was clear that the perception of downtown Reno was that it was neither safe nor clean. So we got down to work to change the look and feel of our downtown core.

A result of this effort was the creation of the Business Improvement District, or BID. This is also known as the Downtown Reno Partnership (DRP). Over the past few years, DRP has worked with businesses, property owners, residents and the City of Reno to make downtown cleaner, safer and more user-friendly.

Part of our efforts to increase the vitality of the downtown area for all residents and visitors is also to encourage and support the integration of the university community into the downtown area by fostering a vibrant urban core. We have a potential of 2,500 to 4,000 units over the next 10 years, and many of them will be college students. As a representative of our downtown residents and businesses and a mother of a university student, it is very important to me that we remain committed to this revitalization.

We were making phenomenal progress in these areas, and then a global pandemic, which we still grapple with, halted much of that progress. But I am delighted to say that we are slowly but surely getting back on track in our downtown area. While there are many challenges, we also have great opportunities. Let’s take a look at what we’ve done.

â–º The activation of public spaces will provide more opportunities in the fields of leisure and arts and culture. Coming soon to Reno City Plaza, custom skateboard terrain features. The new facility will feature several skateboard elements using recycled steel, supporting the city’s sustainability initiative. Skateboarding is a sport accessible to many community members of all ages because it requires minimal equipment and participation is free.

â–º This summer, we were delighted to dedicate Locomotion, a large floor mural located at ReTRAC Plaza in downtown Reno, to the city’s temporary public art collection. Artist Brad Carney worked with over 150 community volunteers to paint his design in the plaza and bring a once drab concrete span to life. The City of Reno will continue to work with the DRP on a ReTRAC area beautification project. The mural (check it if you haven’t!) Is an integral part of this plan, and it’s a great addition to the nearby Biggest Little Dog Park.

â–º Speaking of art and culture, the city of Reno recently opened the Bicentennial Park Sculpture Garden, which currently houses a variety of art installations along the river for the enjoyment of river corridor visitors. If you haven’t been to Bicentennial Park, which is located on the southeast corner of First and Ralston streets along the Truckee River, it’s worth a visit.

â–º Special events are also making a comeback. In fact, this week the annual Veterans Parade will return to downtown Reno in all its glory. We also have some fantastic vacation events in the works, including our Tree Lighting in City Plaza, so stay tuned.

Following:Veterans Day Parade returns to Reno on Thursday, rain or shine

We have seen a diversification of types of businesses in our downtown area and a new entrepreneurial spirit. And I’m delighted to see our downtown appear in the headlines again. It’s not all hype! These are significant investments in the heart of downtown Reno that bring real change from downtown to the Neon Line district. At our City Council meeting on November 10, we’ll discuss some important code updates that will increase safety and eliminate food deserts by providing our downtown residents and visitors with better access to fresh food.

In conclusion, big cities have big city centers, and we will get there. I encourage you to watch “The Next Stop in Downtown Reno, Episode 1.” Connie Wray and her team take a closer look at the exciting transformation that is taking place and shaping a safe, healthy and enjoyable downtown for all. I also recommend reading the recent DRP Opinion Column, “What’s Up Downtown: Big cities have big downtowns.”

These are just two recent stories that illustrate that we’re better together as we continue our Reno reinvention.

Neoma Jardon is a member of the Reno City Council representing Ward 5, which covers the University Quarter and parts of downtown Reno. She can be reached at [email protected].

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