Ranchos never a priority
You ask, “What’s wrong with the Ranchos?” Simple. It’s never been a priority for county officials. They leave it to the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District to manage and let it go at that. The district does a good job within its limits, but it is far from a complete local government, with much left to the county.
Just look at how we’ve used redevelopment here. It’s intended to help “blighted” communities like the Ranchos improve themselves by providing a mechanism to fund public improvements and services.
But we have instead used redevelopment to build big box retail at Topsy. I understand the Topsy strategy and its fiscal benefits to the county. That’s not the point. The point is that we made a great effort at Topsy where there was no blight, while we’ve made almost no effort, redevelopment or otherwise, in the Ranchos, where there is blight. The county simply needs to make the Ranchos a priority. How many Ranchos items are on the county commission’s or county manager’s to do lists?
It wouldn’t be hard to do a survey to identify problem areas and come up with a list of needed actions and improvements. The need for better code enforcement and more pro-active law enforcement is obvious. What’s our community policing strategy for the Ranchos?
Various federal and state grant programs could be targeted there. The Ranchos might be more of a priority for county capital improvement funding. Some county offices or facilities might be relocated there to boost the Ranchos economy and support its retail area. What about an urban design study of the retail area?
The Ranchos would certainly benefit from regular community clean-up campaigns. The sheriff could bring inmates to clean up litter and trash. It might become more of a venue for special events. There are many possibilities.
Most of all it seems to me that some sort of task force could be created to bring various county agencies together with the improvement district board, the school district, perhaps the chamber of commerce, and eventually the community, to start “working the problem.”
A good kickoff might be an in-depth Ranchos tour by the county commission, district board and other officials, with stops to talk with Ranchos residents to hear their concerns and learn about the “real” Ranchos. Focus on the problem areas, not the trouble-free ones.
It’s easy to pretend that things are fine when they’re not, or to throw up your hands and say nothing can or should be done. But we all know that where there’s a will there’s a way.
The first step is for officials to start caring. Do they care about the Ranchos? Let’s see some proof.