Our own bridge to nowhere
September 18, 2012
So it’s come to this. Developers of The Ranch at Gardnerville are asking a local government that can’t afford to maintain the roads it already has to spend upwards of a million dollars to build a bridge that is unneeded but for The Ranch at Gardnerville. And our leaders apparently are giving this request serious consideration. They shouldn’t.
These developers have been working overtime to be relieved of requirements to which they or their predecessors agreed only a few years ago. Reduced setbacks. Inappropriate driveway entrances. More multi-family units in place of single-family units. In my opinion sort of taking this project downscale in an attempt to salvage their investment, an investment that likely never should have been made in the first place.
Now they’re not just asking for modified conditions but for the public to start absorbing substantial portions of their costs. One wonders what other costly pleas will be forthcoming in the future as this project struggles on in the face of a market that doesn’t want it.
There is a simple test for what to do about the Zerolene bridge: whether it would be needed without The Ranch at Gardnerville. If it would be then I guess the public should have long been looking for ways to build the bridge itself. But if not, then we have no business spending scarce public resources on it, especially when we can’t meet other public obligations (have you driven Mottsville lately?).
Currently Zerolene serves little but ranch land. The only reason we are discussing this bridge is because The Ranch at Gardnerville proposes to add hundreds of homes along that stretch, creating a need for proper routine and emergency ingress and egress to that community should it ever actually be built.
And anyone who sees this bridge as a necessary part of some larger new road network east of 395, Heybourne, Muller Parkway, etc., is living in a fantasy world. That network will never materialize in our lifetimes because the development on which it depends and would ostensibly serve isn’t going to happen because there is no demand for it.
So this bridge isn’t needed except for The Ranch at Gardnerville. But the simple truth is that The Ranch at Gardnerville isn’t needed either.
A recent R-C reported the State Demographer’s most recent findings for Douglas County: little or no population growth for a generation. This comes in the wake of many past projections that showed much the same, that the growth which our leaders and the development community were counting on over the past 15 years was simply a fantasy. We perpetuate that fantasy to our detriment.
Why the sponsors of The Ranch at Gardnerville and the officials who approved it ignored the demographic data and proceeded with this 600-unit project is a mystery. But let’s not compound those errors by now asking the public to assume financial responsibility for an unneeded “bridge to nowhere.”