GRGID table decision on radar tower |

GRGID table decision on radar tower

Andy Bourelle

After extensively discussing the issue of traffic at its monthly meeting, the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District board of trustees decided not to take any action making significant policy changes – yet.

At its Jan. 8 meeting, the board agreed not to pay Douglas County for more deputies to patrol the Ranchos. Also, the board agreed to table a decision on whether or not to purchase a digitized radar tower, based on the possibility of receiving a federal grant to help cover a significant portion of the cost.

Applications are due in April for a federal grant which could pay for about 75 percent of the $10,000 radar stand.

“I would rather do that than spend 10 grand,” said trustee Beverly Page.

The stand is being considered as a deterrent for motorists speeding through the Ranchos. The stand would display motorists’ speed to them as they drive by. It could be moved around throughout the Ranchos.

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini attended the meeting, explaining current traffic enforcement in the county and the effectiveness of a radar stand.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, people will see it, slow down and say, ‘I didn’t know I was going that fast,'” he said.

Pierini said the sheriff’s office would work with GRGID manager Bob Spellberg in applying for the federal grant.

The board had been considering paying Douglas County for more traffic patrols in the Ranchos, but decided against it based upon Pierini’s suggestion. He said the sheriff’s office has new volunteers, many of whom are retired law enforcement officers, who would be making increased traffic patrols in the county.

The volunteers, who Pierini described as “very well-qualified,” would have the authority to write citations, without costing the county additional money for manpower.

Trustees and residents in attendance listened to Pierini and also a presentation by Todd Connelly about a Ranchos traffic study done by Lumos and Associates, Inc. Both Pierini and Connelly agreed their information revealed that no particular areas posed larger problems than others. Speeding motorists is a Ranchos-wide – and county-wide – issue.

Connelly’s study was based on 12 sites in the Ranchos, in 25 mph zones between 5 and 6 p.m. The average speed observed within the zones was 30 mph. From 1991 to 1997, the volume of traffic in the Ranchos increased 30 percent. But the amount of accidents, looked at comparatively, has actually decreased 12 percent.

Pierini went over traffic-related citations that have been made in the Ranchos. Over a three-month period, deputies made 20 citations on Kimmerling Road, 69 on Tillman, 11 on Long Valley Road, 10 on Pleasantview Drive and 13 on Dresslerville Road.

Pierini said many complaints, and many speeding problems, come from one person speeding rapidly on a road at a time when no one else is around rather than numerous people speeding at once. Situations like that are hard to enforce, occupying a significant amount of time from deputies.

The 69 citations made on Tillman occupied just over nine hours deputies’ time. While Pleasantview Drive only had 10 citations during the three-month period, deputies had to spend just under nine hours to get those citations.

Near the end of the traffic discussion, Minden attorney Kelly Chase, who had written a letter to the board addressing its traffic involvement, told the trustees he did not feel they had the legal right to be involved in traffic control.

“You are exceeding your authority,” Chase said.

Traffic control is a facet of law enforcement, Chase said, which is the responsibility of the sheriff’s office, not the district.

GRGID attorney Michael Rowe explained that he had discussed the issue with Douglas County chief civil deputy district attorney Brian Chally, who sent a letter to the state attorney general’s office. Rowe said the attorney general had indicated it was acceptable for GRGID to enter into an interlocal agreement with the sheriff’s office and be involved in traffic control.

Two cooperating entities of an interlocal agreement have the authority, as long as one already has the power to perform the task, which the sheriff’s office does.

Chase disagreed but said, because GRGID was taking no immediate action to spend money on traffic control, he was satisfied for now.

“My main concerns are taken care of,” Chase said, “at least temporarily.”