In Carson: Group wants city to manage $2.2M in bypass landscaping | RecordCourier.com

In Carson: Group wants city to manage $2.2M in bypass landscaping

by Dave Frank, Nevada Appeal

A grass-roots organization wants the $2.2 million it raised for landscaping the city freeway to be managed by Carson City, rather than by the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides had to give the federal and state grants to the state because of the rules governing the funds. But GROW President Mary Fischer said Carson City can do better and more consistent work with the money, which the group has worked to raise for eight years.

The city has a good parks department, she said, and wouldn’t have to bid projects as often as the state would.

The state will technically control the money under an agreement worked out over the past two years, but the city would be responsible for design, bids and construction. The Carson City Board of Supervisors could approve the agreement Thursday.

Fischer said it will be another year until residents see improvements from the money, but the work the group has already done through lobbying is obvious.

The bypass has boulders at intersections, is painted taupe, and has mountain- landscape images painted on sound barriers.

In 2002, the state mandated that a portion of future funds used to build Interstate 580 from Carson to Reno be used for beautification, but the Carson City freeway wasn’t covered by that rule.

GROW organizers also want to help the city’s look, by cutting down on the exposure of concrete and planting native flowers, shrubs and trees. This will improve the aesthetic look of the city, control erosion, improve air quality, and cut down on weeds, the group has said.

The agreement between the city and state will help the city do these things because the city would have to maintain what the state put in anyway, said Carson Park Planner Vern Krahn.

“We want to put in something we can maintain,” he said.

On Thursday, GROW also will give the city $20,000 it raised through grants and private donations.

Jan Miller, GROW secretary, said Fischer realized in 1997 that the bypass could be an “ugly scar” running through the city if it wasn’t made more scenic.

“In all honesty, we as the city wouldn’t be here without the efforts of GROW,” Krahn said referring to bypass improvements.

Fischer said highway landscaping wasn’t a consideration in Nevada before she started the group, and the number of people who supported her ideas surprised her. She said the group has about 100 volunteers now.

All the money they’ve raised, she added, “It’s not something you would think one little organization could do.”