Gardnerville questions parking for performance hall

Members of the Gardnerville Town Board were receptive but guarded concerning plans for a 400-seat performing arts center in Minden's old Copeland lumber building.

When the theater is playing to a full house there will be 200 cars in an area that already lacks parking space, said board member Paul Lindsay.

"Then, there will be all the performers," he said. "I like the idea, but parking is an issue."

Carson Valley Arts Council president Brian Fitzgerald said Minden is expected to convert First Street to a one-way corridor with diagonal parking and county officials are planning some sort of parking facility within easy walking distance of the proposed center. Both Minden's and Gardnerville's vision plans include a pedestrian-friendly downtown corridor with shops, restaurants and galleries.

"Right now the area is showing its age, but the towns want to start forming a destination and achieve the environment that will create a potential destination for visitors," Fitzgerald said. "This facility will lend itself to that. The old bowstring trusses are 100 feet long. The uniqueness of the venue is a good fit."

Neighbors favor the project because they would like to see something done with the building, Fitzgerald said.

"The neighbors aren't that happy," said Gardnerville Town Board chairman Randy Slater. "Why do we have all these isolated projects. Why not put everything in one spot?

"We keep hearing about this Taj Mahal senior center. Everything's all spread out," he said.

"The ballot questions during the last election addressed consolidation, but they were defeated," Fitzgerald said.

"It's unfortunate that they failed, but now a number of groups are trying to address the need in Douglas County," he said. "We hope to become an umbrella organization for these groups in the community."

The parking challenges pale when compared to the financial issues.

Located at the corner of County Road and Highway 395, the 20,000-square-foot building has been vacant for years. Arts council members are negotiating for purchase of the property, which hasn't been appraised, Fitzgerald said.

They must garner an estimated $500,000 for down payment on the property. That down payment is expected to come through private funding. The subsequent purchase of the property, which will include the coffee kiosk and the surrounding parking lot, will qualify the organization for numerous grants to be used for improvements and those improvements should be phased in over time, Fitzgerald said.

"It's a multi-million-dollar project that will be completed in the coming years," he said. "The project is ambitious, but there's such a lack of cultural venues in our community."

Fitzgerald said the project is currently cash-poor, but gaining momentum. Fundraising efforts will start in earnest in April, following their ongoing concert series.

"Our concerts drew more than 200 people and they're excited about this project," he said. "I feel like we're at the cusp."

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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