Some good news about Carson Valley

I've been accused of being negative and spreading bad news. I have my supporters, too, of course, but there is a certain truth to that. So I thought it was time to reflect on some things I like here.

Like you, I enjoy the four-season climate, our spectacular outdoor setting, the ready access to nature, our ranching heritage, the small town and rural feeling of Carson Valley and the readily available essential services here.

But I want to focus on some developments that I like. Here are 10.

1. Sierra County Circle, off Foothill near Centerville Lane. To me the epitome of a new housing project here that is "rural by design." It's a group of lovely homes, many with a bit of a mountain look to them, circling a large cattle pasture at the foot of the Carson Range.

That's right, not a golf course but a cattle pasture. Unfortunately, it's a gated community, but you get a good sense of it from Foothill. An excellent example for others to follow.

2. Red Barn Ranch, on Foothill a few miles further south. Some contemporary new architecture that dramatically enhances the historic ranch architecture with which it is integrated.

And painted that dramatic red color that, for some reason, always looks right on a barn. A highlight of my bicycle rides south on Foothill.

3. The trailheads at Jobs Peak Ranch and Faye-Luther Canyon. We see the Carson Range daily, but opportunities to access it easily are few.

These two public-private partnerships are the exception and show that where good will prevail, great things can happen. My wife and I hike these trails regularly and look forward to the day they are connected.

Many thanks to all involved, especially the property owners who cooperated in making this possible. Maybe the same will eventually happen with the Carson River.

4. The undergrounding of utilities along Highway 395 in Gardnerville. We get used to utility lines and they have a certain historic place in the rural landscape, but it sure is nice when they get removed from a part of our town, especially a town that's trying to preserve its history.

5. Carson Valley Inn, Walley's and Topaz Lodge, three "little" resorts that show what it means to fit in here. They all have low-key architecture that just seems "right" for its setting.

I was worried that the Topaz Lodge would be changed irrevocably after the fire it suffered, but it's better than ever. The Lakeview Room remains one of my favorite places to dine, looking out on the Sweetwaters, for my money the most beautiful mountains around.

6. Sharkey's new paint job. Sharkey's is an institution here and it has that "locals' favorite" ambiance that you mess with at your peril. But the old color scheme left something to be desired.

The proprietors showed that you don't have to spend a fortune or make big changes to fix a problem like that. A few buckets of paint later and it has a whole new, and in my opinion better, look, while still being the same old place. Well done.

7. J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room, the French Bar, the Overland, the Historian Inn and everything else around there. That historic core of Gardnerville was my introduction to the Carson Valley, and it is still essentially the same.

Kudos to the merchants, property owners and town officials for achieving that. And of course the same can be said for Genoa and Minden.

That we've kept our old towns old is a remarkable accomplishment that we must perpetuate and build upon as new development proceeds.

8. The new Greater Nevada Credit Union building. It is nice to see new architecture that takes the history of this place seriously and attempts to reinforce it without simply copying it.

Bank's usually take a conservative approach to their buildings. I appreciate the Credit Union's willingness to take the risk to be more creative.

9. The Treehouse/Nu Systems building at the intersection of Centerville, Dresslerville and Drayton. If commercial must invade a neighborhood, and sometimes it should, this is the way to do it.

A well-designed commercial building with a barn motif that fits perfectly into its setting on the edge of the agricultural land that separates the Ranchos from Gardnerville.

And when they expanded recently they replicated the theme when it might have been easier and cheaper to ignore it.

10. Our parks. I believe it is the public domain that makes a community by providing the core infrastructure around which the private domain coalesces.

A good main street. A town square. A lovely old courthouse. A library that says reading is good. We have a lot of that here.

But I'm most impressed with our parks. Mormon Station State Historic Park in Genoa, Minden town square, Lampe Park, Heritage Park are all well-designed and well-maintained. They provide excellent venues for so many community events that help tie us together as a community.

But of course it isn't just the physical environment that makes a community. It's also the people.

I love the friendly, small town atmosphere here and no place that I go on a regular basis exemplifies that better than Full Belly Deli in Gardnerville. It feels like going home to your mother's. Good food at a fair price served by friendly people in the most unpretentious atmosphere imaginable.

Well, there it is, my positive look at the community in which I've chosen to live and which I love, despite my short tenure here.

What's on your list?

n Terry Burnes is a former Bay area planner and a Gardnerville resident.


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