Running the zoo

Bob Cashell

Photo by David Robert

Mayor Bob Cashell, in office for about nine months, moves all conversations in the direction of downtown redevelopment. The topic is central, as many folks wonder what’s going on downtown. The Reno Gazette-Journal Monday ran a rhyming column by Mark Curtis of Gustincurtis Advertising: “… ‘I can’t buy a tie? I can’t stroll into a shop and make this small buy? If I ran your zoo, I’d get what I need. What kind of city is this, indeed!’ ” Indeed, Cashell runs the zoo. Here’s what he says about the job.

How’s your summer?

It’s going real well. I’m pleased. I just spent many hours at Hot August Nights, and I was impressed with the job done by our law enforcement. I heard compliments from people who’d come to Reno from Texas, Virginia, California. … I appreciate all the cooperation from liquor stores that closed at 8 p.m. Friday night. I was there for five or six hours. I wore out around 11 p.m. The next day, I could tell I was 65. I was a tired puppy.

What are your successes so far as mayor?

That’s for others to judge. It’s not Bob Cashell, it’s those six people on the City Council. We can really make things happen. I get to drive the car a little bit and steer a little bit, but the others do the work and make it happen. I’ve only got one vote.

What are your challenges?

Redevelopment along the river. The Mapes lot is like a festered sore that everybody keeps picking at. We have to cure that. The council is coming up with some good ideas. Then there’s the midblock area [across from the Century Riverside Theater]. If we want to do it right, we’ve got to decide what to do with the Masonic Lodge. The owners have been cooperative and patient. And then there’s flood control. There’s no sense in spending $20 or $30 million on the property if it’s going to flood every 10 years or so. We may have to move the property back 20 or 30 feet and move the fiber optics. Then we have to address the bridge issue. The city’s dedicated to making this happen.

Should you be able to buy a tie downtown?

I think you can get a tie downtown … if you look a bit. I saw a comparison of Reno to Atlantic City. Atlantic City has six major property owners. Reno has 60 to 600 property owners. Get that many people to work together! People are looking at the surface of redevelopment, but the city can’t do this by itself. We don’t have the money to buy a block of property. Say, the Horseshoe Club. How many property owners [are] on that one block? Guess!

Maybe six?

Twenty-four! And you’ve got to get them together and get them working.

How are businesses dealing with trench construction?

Complaints have been minimal. I go to ReTRAC meetings as often as I can. It’s a done deal as far as I’m concerned, so now we’ve got to bring it in ahead of schedule and under-budget.

What do you want citizens to know?

I just think if they’ll all be patient with us and give us their input. Write letters or send us e-mail. We can’t always make everybody happy. … This is the biggest corporation I’ve run. In business, I could make a decision, and it would happen. It takes a little longer to turn a steamship than it does a motorboat.