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Workshop Tuesday on Minden planning

by Sheila Gardner

The invitations have been hand delivered, the hall is rented. All that remains is to see who shows up Tuesday for the union of Minden residents and business people as they chart the little town’s economic future.

For the past several months, members of Minden’s Citizens Advisory Committee have been working with Berkeley consultant Bruce Race and town and county officials to lay the groundwork for Tuesday’s planning workshop, the first of four to establish a strategy for Minden’s economic future.

“We have three objectives for the workshop,” Race said. “We’ll review existing policies and plans, discuss economics, land use and design issues and review success stories from other communities. These first workshops in a community are the most important. They help establish the overall direction and trajectory of the process.”

Members of the citizen’s committee walked Minden’s neighborhoods with fliers announcing the workshop. Some business owners have called dozens of friends to drum up interest for Tuesday’s meeting.

Artist Michelle Gabler, who lives with her two children in an historic Minden residence which also serves as her studio, said she is committed to preserving the town’s heritage. She wants to make sure the community’s businesses are protected, too.

– Town charm. “I’m very optimistic because I really care about preserving the character of Minden, the old charm,” said Gabler. “And yet, I don’t feel it should be all old either. I think we should have a nice mix of old and new, some contemporary. The charm of Minden is based on the authenticity it has, the way people have expressed themselves. We’ve been able to do it without a lot of permits.”

Gabler estimates her house was built around 1920 by the people who owned the town’s old lumberyard. The owners also built the house next door, where they lived. Gabler’s house was occupied by the lumberyard foreman.

Gabler, 53, and her twin sister, Stephanie, were born in the basement of the Minden Inn, where Dr. John Pasek had a small maternity hospital.

“There were about five or six kids born there. Every once in awhile, I run into one of them, but I think I am the only one who still lives here.”

Michelle and Stephanie, who lives in Carson City, are the granddaughters of C.C. Meneley, for whom the Ranchos elementary school is named.

“When I was growing up, we moved all over the Valley. It’s just natural for me to settle here. My kids love it, too,” Michelle Gabler said.

“I hope we get a good turnout Tuesday,” she said. “I feel there is a real shift in what people want, a shift in consciousness. I think people want more authenticity. Bigger isn’t necessarily better.”

Town Board Chairman Bob Hadfield said planning will be crucial to the future of the Bently complex, which is being vacated as the Minden manufacturing firm moves to its new headquarters in the East Valley area.

“We’ll be trying to determine what connection, if any, the historic downtown can have to that area. It has tremendous potential to add to the diversity of our business community in the Carson Valley. It affords the only opportunity in the area in terms of providing us any retail potential similar to the county’s promotion of the North Valley,” he said.

Hadfield said the workshops are part of an ongoing process between the town and the Minden business community.

“This workshop is an initial step in the process of developing a broader plan building on the strengths of the Minden downtown plan developed by the town and the business community. If we don’t have an enthusiastic attendance at this first meeting, it could dampen the energy and momentum for the public participation necessary to enable the county to develop creative funding mechanisms – as they have demonstrated a willingness to do in the North Valley,” Hadfield said.

“It’s an exciting time, yet it is a very serious and challenging issue that we want our community to be involved in. We have created a partnership with creative and energetic thinking between the business people and residents of Minden and the town board. These larger planning issues bring with them economic challenges that are beyond the capacity of the town to address and necessarily will involve the commitment by the county similar to the North Valley.”

Sheila Byington, town office manager, said fliers announcing Tuesday’s workshop were hung on every resident’s door in the town of 1,100. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the historic CVIC Hall, 1604 Esmeralda Ave., in Minden.

For information, contact the town at 782-5976.