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County names top building projects

by Christy Chalmers, Staff Writer

A few more pieces of Carson Valley paradise have been paved for parking lots in the past few years, but some of the buildings they’re serving don’t look too bad.

Douglas County leaders have chosen 10 projects to receive Awards of Excellence for Project Design. The awards for the winning projects, recommended by the planning commission and approved by the county commission July 1, will be presented at the planning commission’s July 13 meeting.

The awards cover eight categories. Planners in the Community Development Department first suggested the awards, and the planning commission agreed and later reviewed a list of recommended projects. All but one of the winning projects, the Round Hill Square Mall at Lake Tahoe, are in the Valley.

Senior Planner Mimi Moss said most of the nominees were accepted. Judges considered aspects like overall design, materials, workmanship and how well the projects fit in with existing neighborhoods.

Two of the categories included multiple winners ” creation/preservation of open space and trails and historic preservation.

The open space category projects are both located in Minden. Clock Park, located where Esmeralda Avenue meets Highway 395, turned an awkward wedge of asphalt into a focal point featuring brick planters, shrubs and flowers and a traditional clock.

The other winner in that category, the Buckeye Road Pedestrian/Bicycle path, runs from the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement building east along Buckeye Road. The paved path, which is separated from the road, is popular among lunchtime walkers and bikers as well as Minden Elementary School students.

Minden and Gardnerville can each claim a winner in the historic preservation category. The former wool shed at Buckeye Road and Highway 395 in Minden was completely renovated and turned into modern office space. While dormer windows were added to provide more interior light, most of the exterior design reflects the original building.

The Bently building is sharing honors with the JT Bar and Restaurant, which was remodeled and restored to feature its original western facade.

Though future awards will probably recognize projects built within the year, the inaugural contest features a few developments that date back several years.

Moss said the judges didn’t want to exclude nice projects based on age, so they waived those requirements.

Moss hopes the awards will become an annual event, noting a list of nominees for 2000 is already started.

“We’re not going to run out of projects,” she said. “It’s a nice way to recognize good projects. It really just goes to show that the planning commission is very supportive of maintaining the historic character of the towns and also of our open space.”