Minden residents tackle planning | RecordCourier.com

Minden residents tackle planning

by Sheila Gardner

Part preacher, part teacher, Bruce Race maneuvered 75 Minden residents and a couple of crashers from Gardnerville through a 2-1/2 hour planning exercise Wednesday that involved brightly colored markers, team photographs and a realization at the end that participants shared common goals for the town’s future.

“The most important thing tonight is that you are all internationally renowned planners,” said Race, a Berkeley, Calif., consultant hired by Douglas County to help Minden come up with an economic plan. “It’s become increasingly important that folks have a say in their future.”

Wednesday’s workshop was the first of four to create a Minden plan which will be presented to Douglas County commissioners for approval.

One of Minden’s assets is the town’s history and original layout. Created in 1905, Minden is one of Nevada’s original planned communities.

“You already have the ingredients for a strong town – the natural setting, the pace of life and multigenerational residents who bring a much deeper memory of Minden as a community,” Race said.

Armed with fresh boxes of Crayola markers, participants were divided into nine teams and told to define what was most important in terms of physical assets, economic opportunity, open space and intangibles such as quality of life and what people like best about Minden.

“From what surfaced here, it’s really clear that the setting is of paramount importance, including the historic buildings and the town center. People think of Minden as an ag town with an identifiable downtown district,” Race said.

“The economic objectives are all over the map, but a few things started to reoccur, like the need for a grocery store. A couple of the teams talked about a community or performing arts center,” he said.

At the next workshop at the end of May, Race told participants they would be strategists.

“This is important stuff to build on. When we get together at the end of May, we’ll take a hard look at this. We’ll dig deeper into the vitality of the downtown and the small businesses.”

Michelle Gabler, a member of a committee of Minden residents and business people who helped organize Wednesday’s workshop, said she was happy with the turnout and the results of the night’s efforts.

“I think it was fantastic. The interactive part was so neat, everybody participated. I am excited about the momentum and the opportunities,” Gabler said.

For Jean Andrews, who moved from Monterey, Calif.,18 months ago, Wednesday’s workshop was exactly what she was looking for when she picked Minden for her new home.

“Here, people are interested in the future of their community. I was looking for a place with a sense of community. I love it here,” she said.

“I like the way he (Race) was able to take nine separate tables and see how similar all our views are.”

Even though she lives in Gardnerville, Lynn Kelly had a similar reaction.

“It was wonderful the way he was pulling things together in such a cooperative way,” Kelly said.

Race said the workshops are meant to be enjoyable.

“This should be fun,” he said. “Making decisions like these is a once-in-a-generation experience.”