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Residents help set priorities

by Don Miner

Looking around Douglas County and seeing the activity over the past few years generates a long list of completed and in-process activities. But how do these activities and projects get started, planned and implemented?

The county’s work often begins when the community expresses a need. Concerned individuals, organizations or neighborhoods usually bring the need forward. One of the first I recall was the development of the county’s master plan. A key concern was for the county to better control residential growth without infringing on private property rights. This was accomplished with the adoption of a priority based land use master plan. Once residents and taxpayers expressed sufficient interest, county elected officials clearly saw the need as a community driven mandate. This major land use planning effort took less than a year employing numerous specialists, planning consultants, staff, elected officials and local residents from all corners of Douglas County.

The county is working to develop an appropriate open space conservation program while placing residential growth into previously approved and existing residential “in-fill” and receiving areas. The means to achieve the goal of permanent open space and retain agricultural property will be one of the most important issues to be addressed by our community over the next couple of years. To both broaden and strengthen our countywide property tax base while keeping your property tax rate among the lowest in Nevada, the county is working toward implementation of a federal land acquisition/exchange program. Theses new lands will be added to the residential, commercial and industrial property tax base. This new land also allows the county to realize economic diversification by attracting new retail opportunities, more high tech businesses and provide for new office, commercial and light manufacturing facilities.

Simultaneously, we are seeing more focused tourism promotion being driven by our two chambers of commerce and visitors centers, the Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Douglas visitors authorities while economic development is spearheaded by the Northern Nevada Development Authority and the Business Council of Douglas County. Each agency is determined to encourage more private sector investment in Douglas County in areas emphasizing outdoor recreation, clean business and quality of life.

In the coming months we will need to focus on transportation issues. New roadway planning needs to take place with community input. Potential projects include extension of Heybourne Road, reconstruction of the Lake Parkway (Loop Road) and Tillman Lane, reconstruction of East Valley and the extension of Buckeye Road, and new valley parkways with appropriate median landscaping. The Nevada Department of Transportation cooperates by making more safe existing state roads and highways, designs of new frontage roads and by-pass routing.

Transit opportunities abound, but these are very expensive and require significant subsidies to be effective and convenient alternatives to local automobile travel. Public transit within the Carson Valley will be held in abeyance until such time that services balance the cost/benefit equation. Next year a computer based coordinated transit system is planned to be implemented at Lake Tahoe, bringing together a large number of public and private sector partners including motels, casino-hotels, ski and public transit shuttles, vans and buses into a linked integrated on-demand transit system dispatched via computer satellite communications.

A current consideration needing in-depth, broad-based community support is the development of a Carson Valley multi-purpose community center. Such a center would potentially house a senior facilities central kitchen for Meals on Wheels, youth programs, teen center, toddler facility, classroom instructions, aerobics, computer labs, performing arts, theater, video arts and concert programs.

Our community is very much involved in determining and defining the activities, projects and services on which we work and invest county taxpayers’ money. Working together in a conceptual, forward thinking process is how we believe the Douglas County system can best work. Teamwork helps to insure getting the right things done first. From my perspective, our community is doing its part as evidenced by the large numbers of firsts. You should be very proud of your accomplishments. And, we know there is much more to come. The vision process begins and ends with you. Thank you for your thoughtful and generous support.

– Don Miner represents Douglas County commissioner district 4.