Supply me a river

There are good moves made by cities, there are bad moves, there are lame moves, and there are insane moves. Rarely, however, does it seem that us plebes are the beneficiaries of an insanely good move. But that is exactly what has taken place in downtown Reno.

I’m referring to our terrific new whitewater park. It was done well (just about every boulder now set in cement along the river is sorta flat, making it functional for those who want to lunch next to the water), quickly (construction was started and finished in about two months) and under budget (as I recall, the total tab was about $1.5 mill, an absolute steal of a deal). And what we’re getting now, as has become obvious during the sunny heat of the summer season, is a real dose of old-fashioned Americana Soul as a bonus.

Sure, we knew the park was gonna be great fun for kayakers and rafters in the downtown area. That was the whole point, after all. Whitewater park equals Reno kayaking event equals kayakers from out of town equals room nights and maybe even an occasional slot yank if we’re lucky (these whitewater hodads are notorious non-gamblers). But what I hadn’t visualized was how the park was going to make the river more inviting, more accessible and more downright enjoyable for everybody who wasn’t in a water vessel. In years past, there was always this “stay out of the river” vibe in downtown, and I hadn’t even stopped to consider what a sorry state of affairs that truly was. Whenever you saw somebody in the Truckee, he or she was more often than not a delirious wino being pulled out of a logjam by a team of cops.

But now, thanks to the park, there is easy access to the river, and that’s changed the whole feel of the area, making it more friendly and inviting. There is just something right and proper about being in Wingfield Park these days and being able to take your sno-cone down to the water’s edge, find a rock with just the right indentations to suit your buns, settle in, and watch a bunch of kids and dogs and kayakers goofin’ off in the river and havin’ some fun in the sun, no Nintendo necessary.

And although it’s a bit silly to indulge in “Riverwalk competition,” I can’t resist comparing our new Wingfield scene to the famed Riverwalk of San Antonio. I lived in S.A. for about a year, back in ’87, and yes, their Riverwalk is very nice and all, with eateries and shops lining the banks, and gondolas transporting folks up and down its waterway (although I’ve heard that it’s now way too loaded up with chain restaurants). But that “river” is really more like a canal, and no one in their right mind would ever think of actually swimming in its brown-ish, opaque water. Now in Reno with the new park, we have one-upped them snooty Alamonians pretty darn good.